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Overcoming the Experience Paradox: Strategies for New Graduates

Written by

Adejoke Adeboyejo

Reviewed by

VidCruiter Editorial Team

Last Modified

March 21, 2024
Experience Paradox


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One of the major challenges facing new graduates preparing to enter the workforce is the demand for work experience by employers. According to a SHRM analysis of 95,000 job postings showed that 61% of all full-time jobs seeking entry-level employees required at least three years or more of experience. New graduates, who usually apply for entry-level jobs find themselves facing the dilemma of needing experience to get a job and needing a job to gain experience. The meaning of “entry-level” has changed and most companies expect that new graduates applying for jobs should have certain skills and experience aside from their educational qualifications. While many employers use this to narrow down the applicant pool, some jobs require practical experience and skills applicable to the work situation. Therefore, how can new graduates navigate this dilemma of having the required experience when applying for jobs?

Every Experience Matters

While in University, you would have carried out research activities, worked on projects, had some extra-curricular programs, and even had co-op opportunities that gave you real-life work experience. You can present these as work experience on your resume, highlighting relevant skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, communication, data management, etc., on your resume and how these skills were applied to get the work done.

Showcase Your Soft Skills

Soft skills are interpersonal skills that are important to relationships with other people. In the workplace, soft skills are as important as hard skills or the technical know-how required for a job. They are essential for new graduates as a ZipRecruiter report revealed that about 93% of employers say soft skills play a critical role in their hiring decisions. Also, a LinkedIn study revealed that soft skills help employees get promoted faster. Soft skills are easily transferable to the workplace right out of school and even when you switch from one industry to another. Some soft skills employers look for in candidates include communication, time management, problem-solving, innovation, and emotional intelligence. Developing and showcasing these skills on your resume will help demonstrate your readiness to contribute to the workplace.

Internships and Volunteering opportunities

Internships offer hands-on, professional learning experiences where you can do practical work related to your field of study and they are a great way to gain work experience. Volunteer work also provides valuable experiences that can be added to your resume, while you make an impact in your community and build new skills. Internships and volunteer work will help boost your chances of getting a job after school; Statistics show that 7 out of 10 employers offered their on-site interns a full-time job and students who interned received 16% more job offers than those who didn’t.. With internships or volunteer work, you can also build a network of people who are already in the workforce and can help with job opportunities and referrals later on.

Build Your Network

Networking has become a buzzword, as we all live in a constantly connected world. While online networking is great, it is also important to build a good network of people in your school and community. There are also opportunities to build a network with your college’s alumni, and you can join industry associations that allow student membership. Other ways to build your network include attending graduate networking events and career fairs and being active on professional online platforms like LinkedIn. Networking will provide the opportunity to seek counsel and guidance from experienced professionals. One of the major reasons networking is beneficial is that many vacancies are filled via referrals, and you’ll find out about jobs that were not advertised and be able to assess other career paths.

Showcase Your Projects

It’s also important to let prospective employers know about any personal work you’ve done that shows your skills and is relevant to the jobs you want to apply for. If you have freelanced or done pro-bono work as a student, you can put together a portfolio of such work as evidence of what you’ve done. You can have a personal website or online portfolio that recruiters and hiring can access and this will make make it easier for them to assess your skills and qualifications.

While new graduates usually face a significant challenge getting into the workforce after college, this can be surmounted by adequate preparation and taking the right steps. It’s also important to stay positive and be resilient in your search; see rejections as opportunities to improve, until find the job that’s the right fit for you.