How to stand out to employers without work experience – tips from EY Careers

EY Careers Rebekah

You may not have much work experience as a school leaver or graduate, but you can still stand out in interviews. EY offer accounting and finance apprenticeships, and their tips could help you shine in an interview!

Employers aren’t only interested in the work you’ve done. They also want to know how you approach life, and what you’ve done to grow as a person. This helps them see how employable you are.

When you’re applying for a job or – fingers crossed – sitting in a job interview, how can you make your skill and enthusiasm stand out more than your lack of work experience? How can you show employers you’ve got what it takes and should be given a chance?

Try out new activities

Employability skills: Resilience, self-belief, positive attitude, problem solving

Ready to get out of your comfort zone? Try new activities that you like the sound of. They’ll help you think in new ways and find new ways to solve problems. Employers will appreciate that you are ready to try new things. Trying new activities shows you are ready to try, fail, and try again. Not giving up when you don’t succeed the first time is a big part of resilience.

EY Careers Rebekah

Rebekah, EY Assurance Trainee:

I did a sport which I am passionate about that builds skills that I can bring to any interview I do.

Teaching yourself new skills is a great way to try new things and build your skills at the same time. As well as doing sport, EY Assurance Trainee Rebekah tried presentation workshops and Excel workshops to build her skills. What could you try?

Employers will see that if they hire you, you are ready to try your best at learning new ways of doing things. They won’t expect you to pick everything up at once. They will want to see you are ready to try.

Do volunteering

Employability skills: Motivation, self-belief, teamwork

When you do volunteering (as a Youth Ambassador with Youth Employment UK, for example), you are showing employers that you don’t like to waste your time sitting around doing nothing. You have the energy and motivation to act, and to take up volunteering even though you didn’t have to.

You will learn new skills, broaden your horizons and maybe even meet new people who can help you network your way into useful work experience or a job.

Your social conscience will also give employers like EY Careers a clue that you have strong teamworking skills and are willing to work well with others.

Join societies

Employability skills: Communication

Joining societies is a useful way to network – and you can also develop skills you never thought you had. From the debating society to STEM clubs or reading groups, you can choose a society that matches your interests and build a useful web of contacts and potential mentors who can help you learn and grow.

Get blogging

Employability skills: Communication, self-management

You’ll always have something to put in your CV or mention in your interview if you start a blog. Make sure it’s work-safe – meaning something you’d be willing to show to a manager at work.

Blogging (or contributing to publications) will help you express your point of view, and also shows you’re a motivated person who can manage your time well.

In the age of digital communication, a work-safe social media account with a strong following could also be a good talking point in interviews. It can show you have a grasp of marketing and personal branding that could translate well into a professional context.

Be aware of what’s happening in the world

Employability skills: Communication, problem solving

Keep up with business and current affairs. How you do it is up to you, but do try to check the validity of your sources to make sure you’re getting accurate news. This is especially useful if you are thinking of applying for opportunities with EY Careers. It shows you’re willing to learn about issues that could affect businesses and the country in general. That curiosity and willingness to grow your business awareness could set you apart as a great candidate in interviews!


Employability skills: Communication, self-belief, self-management, problem solving

Start to build up your contacts by networking with people in employer companies. They can support you with great advice and encouragement.

Some network opportunities to think about:

  • Careers fairs
  • Alumni and student networking events
  • Meetup groups relevant to careers or skills you might be interested in
  • Checking your social media feeds for networking events from organisations you are interested in

Eventbrite is useful for researching networking events in your area.

Finally… get work experience

Employability skills: Communication, self-belief, self-management, problem solving, teamwork

Any job or work experience will help you build your skills and knowledge. It will also help you understand more about the ins and outs of work culture, from mobile phone etiquette at work (don’t be on it all the time) to getting used to lunch breaks and meeting new people.

Any employment you can find will be sure to help you boost your time management and communication skills. You pick these up whenever you get to work on time (or even early), or when you notify your boss straight away if you are going to be very late so that they are aware of the situation and know you can be trusted to keep them informed of things they need to know.

EY brand ambassador

If you’re studying on campus, one way to gain valuable work experience for any employer is to become a campus Brand Ambassador for EY Careers. It’s flexible paid work so you can fit it in around studies. Click the link to find out more!

ey banner use

More about EY Careers

EY are a Youth Friendly Employer who offer a variety of finance, tax, accounting and assurance first-job opportunities to young people. We recruit on strengths, not just experience and qualifications. Play to your personal strengths, whatever your background.

Find out more about EY apprenticeships and opportunities

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For more information, please email or call 01536 513388.

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