Work experience – What do employers think?

If you’re thinking about taking the leap and going to university, you’ll have heard a lot about the importance of getting work experience and how it will benefit you to gain industry experience outside of your university course. But is it really that important to potential employers that you have work based experience or any internships that you may have done listed on your CV? The answer is yes.

A report published by High Fliers, titled ‘The Graduate Market in 2017’ found that more than half of all high profile graduate employers, that featured in the Times Top 100 Employers, offered undergraduates sandwich courses of between 6 and 12 months placements, with four out of five of these well-known recruiters offering some kind of work experience to young adults.

The survey also showed that some employers now fill their vacancies purely with students who have completed work experience with them in the past. More than half of the employers questioned said that they would be unlikely to offer a job to a graduate who had no relevant work experience, no matter how good their academic qualifications may be.

But why are employers so keen that their applicants already have relevant experience? Well, for a start, it makes their life easier to have an employee working for them who already has an idea of how the industry works and what is expected of them when performing day to day duties. And it also shows that you know how to get the most from your internship as well, which means that you’re likely to have soaked up a lot of experience and work.

Employers also look for candidates who want to work for their company, with work experience allowing companies to see how ‘work friendly’ potential employees are, before offering them full-time work. Last year, one in three graduates was offered a job by a company who they had previously worked for.

So it’s clear that gaining some sort of work placement whilst studying for your degree will benefit you later on when looking for employment, but work placements can also help you to realise which specific job role you want to enter after you have gained your qualifications. Completing just one week of placement within your chosen industry can be a real eye opener and gives you a great idea of what will be required once you do land that first job. If you’re unsure about what to do with an internship, or you’re not sure how the programme works, then we recommend that you look up as much as internship advice as possible.

Making your experience count:

• When writing your CV don’t just list relevant work experience, give a little detail of the skills involved and what you have learnt that will be of benefit to potential employers.

• Internships offer another way into the industry of your choice and a stint of volunteer work can often lead to full-time employment.

• Show employers your initiative and volunteer to take on extra work or help out on projects whilst you’re at university. When it comes to a job these little extras will help you stand out from the crowds of applicants.