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I am a recent (mature) Computer Science graduate who is just entering the job market.

In all the advice I have seen regarding CV's (resume for the US folks), it has said to tailor the application to the vacancy.

I have seen several vacancies that I think I would be suitable for, all advertised by recruitment agencies. Every time I ring up about a vacancy, the first thing they ask is about my current situation, and as soon as I tell them I'm a graduate with no (direct) experience, they close up, and just tell me to send my CV along to them.

I have seen this: How to get information out of secretive recruiters?

but it and other similar questions involves being head-hunted rather than reaching out to recruiters.

How can I get the information to tailor my CV and covering letter so that I can at least get seen by someone who might see past the lack of experience?

  • "so that I can at least get seen by someone who might see past the lack of experience" Why should they? Why are you a better candidate than the hundreds of people who do have experience? You should be applying to entry-level positions and especially with companies specifying that they're hiring graduates (though not all industries have the latter). If you're not getting any replies to your applications then it's a safe bet that you're either not applying to vacancies that you're suitable for or that you're doing something else wrong. – Lilienthal Jan 25 '16 at 12:36
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I have seen several vacancies that I think I would be suitable for, all advertised by recruitment agencies.

How can I get the information to tailor my CV and covering letter so that I can at least get seen by someone who might see past the lack of experience?

I have often been able to use phrases from the posted vacancy in a Google search to find a similar posting on the company's careers site. That tells me who they are, and I can learn about other vacancies, the company culture, etc.

That said, I'm guessing the vacancies you feel suited for require experience that you don't have. For good or for bad, someone with no experience at all is different from someone with some experience - you cannot change that.

Recruiters are told to find someone that meets the requirements. It sounds like you simply don't.

You can still go ahead and apply directly to the company for these jobs, rather than talking with the recruiter. But your chance of success when applying for a non-entry-level position while having no experience is very low.

In my view, few employers are flexible when it comes to experience versus no experience. I know that I have never hired a completely inexperienced candidate when I was seeking someone with experience.

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  • Thanks Joe - this addressed my actual question. Looks like even Junior roles need 2+ years experience now - it's the age-old catch-22! Can I ask, would you consider someone for a junior role with relevant qualifications but with experience in a somewhat related field (IT Support)? – Fubrite Jan 25 '16 at 13:25
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Recruiters are a strange breed of folk. First of all, they list a lot of vacancies just to load up their database with a lot of people. Then they wonder why the people they call months down the line are either so upset with them that they don't want to fill the vacancies or they found something else.

They try their best based on intuition or keyword matching to best match up the applicant and the clients posting. Sometimes they do a terrible job, sometimes they don't.

Keep in mind that you should not take it personally. Recruiters may get a client occasionally that their work culture does not revolve around experience, but they are so used to getting shot down by their clients because of an applicants lack of experience, that they just quit sending entry-level people to them.

Figure out some way through volunteer work, open-source/public projects, etc that you can build up your experience. Or learn how to sell projects or what you've done before as experience. Experience is a vague and subjective word. Make it work for you, not against you.

Also do not just rely on recruiters. It's your job search, and it's not on recruiters to find you a job. Recruiters work for their staffing company, and their first goal is to make that staffing company money. Which does not necessarily mean to get you to fill the vacancy.

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Recruitment agents work not for you but for the company where they can place candidates.

They like an easy life.

So the question is how to get over this hurdle.

The best way is not to just simply email the CV to them. Dress up and visit them at their offices. You then are able to get to know them as a person and likewise they get to know you. You are not simply and email address but a face. You may be able to get some help with the CV or at least get their contact details.

When you have done this you can call them once or twice a week. They will get to know that you are still on the market and also puts you in there head when they are looking at new roles.

In addition to recruitment agents perhaps try to find out about companies that may interest you. Call them and find out who to email the CV to. Use the personal touch.

The key thing here is getting personal contact. We are social animals at the end of the day.

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  • Yes - Why not - they do work in offices. It worked for me – Ed Heal Jan 23 '16 at 14:16
  • "Dress up and visit them at their offices". Don't ever do this. The only place this works is interim agencies and even they probably prefer digital communication these days. The "personal touch", calling multiple times a week and cold calling companies to get contact details? This is all terrible, terrible advice. Please update your job searching ideas for for the 21st century. – Lilienthal Jan 25 '16 at 12:32
  • Useful advice, but doesn't really address the question. I'm enquiring about specific vacancies rather than a blanket CV mailout. Unfortunately none of the agencies have an office in my town, and we have to request time off weeks in advance, so this wouldn't really be practical... – Fubrite Jan 25 '16 at 13:30
  • @Lilienthal, that kind of advice should be questioned. The don't-call-us-we'll-call-you line is asking a lot of individuals who spend countless hours fine-tuning cover letters and résumés, and filling out these redundant databases as well. Most importantly, my livelihood is dependent on the outcome. So, you bet I'm calling at reasonable intervals to check on my application. Moreover, it's incredibly naive to engage in human contact, and then arbitrarily opt-out of it because it's convenient (or you're lazy). – Joel DeWitt Jan 25 '16 at 16:13
  • @JoelDeWitt The key word there is "reasonable intervals". Calling by itself is already antiquated as communication is mostly via e-mail these days. You can generally contact a company once after your first response from them if you haven't heard back from them by the time they said they would. You can then contact them once or twice more after a few weeks have passed. That counter resets after every interview, self-imposed deadline or promise of an update. – Lilienthal Jan 25 '16 at 20:02

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