Question 1: What should I do if I don’t have relevant experience in the field I am interested in? Especially if I’ve missed out on lots of volunteering opportunities?
Dear ScapeGoat Subscriber,
Thank you for your question above. As a careers consultant I have worked with many students, graduates and career changes who feel that they don’t have the relevant experience for the jobs they are interested in. However it is important not to feel discouraged by this fact. There a number of strategies that you can undertake to help you to overcome this problem.
1. Transferable/employability Skills
Transferable skills are general skills you can use in many jobs such as communication, teamwork, problem solving etc..
These skills can be developed in your degree, extra-curricular activities and any work you might have undertaken (i.e. retail, food etc..). Often these skills will be outlined in the job ad. You can identify where you have developed these skills by putting in a skills summary into your resume and also outlining this in your cover letter.
One of our Alumni mentioned that the key to getting the job was not necessarily relevant experience but demonstrating a strong capacity to learn and to have strong transferable skills such as communication, problem solving, team work.
2. Research the industry and talk to people who work there.
Several times when I have applied for jobs I have not necessarily had relevant experience in that industry. However by talking to people in the industry and undertaking research I was able to incorporate that information into my resume and cover letter. This can be done by developing your networking skills and building your LinkedIN profile.
3. Join a science professional association.
Many areas of science have professional associations. You can often join these as a student member. These associations may run industry events and will have newsletters and networking nights. A great way to build you knowledge and networks. Sometimes there are also opportunities to volunteer and help out at these associations, this will help to build your profile and experiences.
* Using your degree – lists professional associations. http://www.monash.edu.au/students/career-connect/jobs.html
Alumni: Attend professional events and talk to people and find out about the organisations they work for. This will help you to see if the organisation has opportunities and is the right fit for you. Approximately 70% of jobs are not advertised.
Good luck and I can help further please book an appointment or attend one of our science career events.
This is the first of a series of questions that our Science Careers Consultant, Lisa Happell, has answered relating to the career-related struggles that students face.
If you’d like to ask Lisa a question, head over to our Ask a Science Careers Question Page or contact Lisa on lisa.happell@ .