7 Tips for dealing with the catch 22 of experience versus qualifications.

What happens when you come out of college or a training course and you can’t find a job? I imagine most young people have experienced this before. You hear things like “Sorry, we’re looking for someone with more experience” or “Sorry, you don’t have the qualifications that we’re looking for”. I’ve been in that position myself and it’s definitely not something that you want to hear after you’ve spent 4 years completing a course.

You’ve no experience so you can’t get a job and you’ve no job so you can’t get experience. 
While it does appear to be a catch 22, it’s actually not. I know this because people break it all the time - they would have to or else nobody would work anywhere! However, if you're starting off in your career, don’t be fooled by this supposed catch 22 - you merely have to find a way to get your foot on the employment ladder. So, here are a few tips that I hope will help you find a job:

Do an internship or trial placement. 

An internship is a great method of getting some experience and making contacts. So make the most of those opportunities while you’re there. If you’re going to work for a company that isn’t paying you, there’s no harm in asking them about the realistic possibilities of full-time employment. Also, it’s important to make the best impression possible while working with the company, even if you don’t like the company. Ireland is a small country and many of the industries and businesses are connected. In the end, if you don’t get a position with the company but make a good impression, they might give you an introduction to a partner company who is looking for new employees. If you don’t ask, you won’t receive.

Be persistent and find a way to add value.

I’ve worked with many businesses in different capacities in only a few years, and what I’ve found is that they all want to have less problems and make more money. It’s that simple. Therefore, if you can demonstrate how you help them do this, you will give yourself a much better chance of making an impression and getting a job. But remember, you can’t just solve the problems, you need to do it in a cost effective, efficient way that is in line with the interests of the business and it’s customers. So be confident in the studies that you have done and the work that you will do for them in the future. Ultimately they want you to take hassle away from them, not make more work and problems for them to deal with. 

Use the contacts of everyone you can!  

Regardless of the many other factors, knowing someone who already works in the company or who has strong connections always seems to be the best way of getting employed. So if you can get in touch with people who work for companies that you’re interested in, reach out to them by phone, LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook! If you don’t know anyone who works for the company, don’t rule out the possibility of trying to meet someone who works there. Company events or other social avenues can often be useful ways of meeting the right people. 

Embrace the opportunities of social media.  

At this stage of the game, most businesses understand that they need to have social media accounts and they know that there is a lot of work involved in maintaining them. In fact, it’s often a complete job for one member of their team, if not more. However, depending on the time constraints, skills and demographics of the current employees, they may or may not be able to cope with the additional demands that social media brings. This could provide you with an opportunity to solve this problem for them with skills that you already have or that you could develop. Once you prove that the work you do on social media has a real value, it may be an easier decision for the company to take you on as an employee.
Continue to learn and develop new skills.
Always, always, always continue to study and continue to learn. This the key to staying at the top of your game. It also shows that you have a real interest in your area of work and will show companies that you are very enthusiastic and hard working. I’ve heard top professionals talking about investing as much as 10% of their annual income in CPD (Continuous Professional Development) and a similar amount of time. That is a massive investment but it makes it clearer as to why they are at the top. Also, if you want give yourself a better chance of getting the right job, the more knowledge and skills you have, the more value you’ll be able to add to a company. 

Start working already.

Few people will ask you to do work for them if they hear you talking about working, but if they see that you’re already doing it in some capacity, they are much more likely to ask you to work for them. I have experienced this from the business' side and from the employee's side. It really works. For example, a friend spoke to me about how she’d love to be a writer. I asked her how much she writes. She said ‘nothing’. There’s nothing to stop her from doing what she loves, but who’s going to employ her before they see some writing from her? On the other hand, another friend of mine is a strength and conditioning coach. He did so much coaching that he made great contacts and eventually got a great job with a professional golfer. So the opportunities are there if we are willing to look for them. 
So perhaps there are other ways to get hired without having 3+ years of experience. But is there any hope for people with experience but without qualifications?

Overcome the limits of experience without qualifications

Of course. Richard Branson never went to college, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out. Also, here are some Irish people who have succeeded without degrees. Now, I’m not saying that you should not get a qualification, or you shouldn’t get a good education. I think education is essential, whether it be formal or informal. But what I’m saying is, don’t let something limit you just because you think it’s a limit. If someone else has done it before, there’s the possibility that it can be done again. 
     When the qualifications are not necessarily a measure of ability and competence, I would argue that they are less important than competence on the job. For example, anyone who works at anything creative (art, design, media production etc.), understands that on the job ability is the most important thing.

Finally, I hope this post has helped you overcome any challenges you have with the catch 22 and thanks for reading. Ronan