Graduate No Experience

How to Land Your First Job Without High Marks or Experience

When you’re at university, you are told to work hard, get good grades and you’ll land a well-paid job in your chosen profession. But what happens if you don’t have top results or any experience?

The graduate market place is competitive, and while it can be difficult to land an entry level job, it’s not impossible.

When looking for their first job, a lot of students ask whether their grade point average (GPA) or professional experience is more important.

Unfortunately, there is no clear yes or no answer to this question.

Getting in is an achievement in itself

Employee decisions regarding graduate applicants are made based on numerous factors including the positions they have available, whether they can give their time to mentor a junior employee and the field you’re applying to work in.

All these aspects must be carefully considered by employers before deciding if they can dedicate the time and money to developing a graduate program.

Bigger corporations have strict entry requirements. For example, the big four accounting firms only interview students who have met their minimum GPA requirement.

Companies choose cultural fit over marks

If you don’t meet the requirements right now, it doesn’t mean that a specific career path is completely closed off to you.

Your GPA is the only way that potential employers can figure out if you were a good student at uni. The higher the score, the more attractive you are to employers.

However, not everyone excels in formal education. Some people only start to flourish when they land their first job.

There are an increasing number of companies out there that prefer to take on students with potential, rather than choose a person with high marks that won’t buy into their values or fit into their culture.

It’s also still possible to get a lower grade position in a company and to work your way up through the ranks.

Keep your options open when deciding how to reach your career path, there are plenty of ways to get on it.

New skills on the job

You might think that landing a graduate position means your employment dreams have been answered, but it can be tough. The hours are long, your workload is heavy, and sometimes you won’t get to work on the projects you’d hoped to.

You might also find your team extremely competitive, as everyone tries to guarantee employment by showing off their abilities.

If you find yourself under pressure, remember that when you start work, you gain a whole new set of skills and experience.

Most of these skills are transferrable — in other words, you’ll use them to secure and hold all the positions you have during your working life.

Once you move past the graduate stage, employers will be looking for people with the necessary skills and experience.

A lot of companies can’t dedicate long hours or a large budget to training. Therefore, all your experience will be valuable.

Best of both worlds

So, what is the conclusion? The truth is, it’s important to have both good results and experience.

Your hard work and dedication will help you to land that first job, even if it takes a while.

Once you gain the skills needed to continue your career, it is more likely that your experience will help you land your second, third and even fourth job.

However, even if you don’t have on-the-job experience when you apply for your first job, you can still stand out from the crowd. 

It’s important to show prospective employers that you go that extra mile.

For example, joining a university group or society, setting up an extracurricular activity on campus or undertaking a course outside the requirements can give your resume the X-factor that others are missing.

Another idea is to undertake summer internships, which are a great way to get some experience and may even lead to a job offer.

Remember, such positions may not bring in much money, so make sure to budget carefully.

Always keep in mind that the best thing you can do to build your career in the long-run is to balance your academic studies and learning with gaining as much relevant experience as possible.


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