Why do some graduate jobs ask for experience?

Lara Billington
Content Marketing Executive

As long as you have a degree you can get any graduate job, right? 

Um...well no, not exactly.

If you're a recent graduate knee deep in the job hunt you may have come to realise that securing a grad job isn't always as simple as just having a degree. 

We've all been there - hours into scouring the internet you finally find a role you like the look of. It's kind of relevant to your degree, the salary's decent, company looks good but, oh wait, they're asking for PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE?! Hold up. 

Why do supposedly 'entry-level' roles require you to have experience and expertise beyond the knowledge you've just forked out £27k on to learn? Well, don't panic, because we're here to give you the lowdown on why some grad jobs ask for experience, and why this doesn't mean you're going to be unemployed for life because of it. 




So why do some employers ask for experience? 

  • The graduate job market is competitive and you'll be applying to the same jobs as lots of grads with very similar credentials to you. Employers need a way to differentiate one 2:1 graduate with an English degree from another, and they use your work experience (or lack of) to do this. 


  • Besides providing you with specific skills and knowledge you might need for the role, work experience helps you gain loads of transferable skills that simply can't be taught during your degree. Familiarity with the working environment, maturity, confidence, commercial awareness and professionalism are all extremely valuable skills that employers will be on the look out for. 


  • If you've had experience working at another company, employers can be more certain that they're making the right hire. You'll have references to back up your brilliance, a track record and clear evidence that you're proactive and driven to seek out opportunities.


  • Having experience that's relevant to the job you're applying for demonstrates to employers that you're genuinely passionate about pursuing a career in their sector. Many employers are conscious that a lot of grads apply for a bunch of jobs, just because they need one. This separates those who are actually interested in their role from those who are just applying for any old job.  


What does this mean for you? 

Try not to be put off from applying for jobs that ask for a whole list of experience. Often (and this might be stated in the job requirements), employers ask for experience they 'desire' in a candidate: not what's essential. If you have relevant knowledge, experience and skills, there's no harm in applying. Also remember that any experience is better than none and you will have picked up lots of transferable skills in your previous workplace/s. 

Ultimately, your work experience alone can't tell the full story. Employers want someone with the whole package: credentials, enthusiasm, knowledge and the right personality are just as important. 

In some cases, you just might not have the right experience and employers won't be willing to budge on that - but there's plenty of opportunities out there that either ask for experience that's less specific, or that require no experience at all. So if your CV's looking a bit scarce that doesn't mean to say you won't be able to find a job.

Saying that, remember that having previous experience isn't just desirable to the employer, but can help you too. If you're not sure what direction to head in with your career, the best way to find out is by trying different roles; use your experience to determine what suits you and your skills best. If you're a student or grad on the hunt for an internship or placement to boost your CV, here's some for you to check out.


So now you know not to run and hide whenever you see 'experience required' on a job advert, why not check out the range of job, internship and placement opportunities on our website?