Previous Experience vs Relevant Experience

Ange Connor

How Fairy Park, not going to Uni and Sport shaped my career experience

This weeks blog has been inspired by Ross Clennett and his blog How Mitre 10, campus life and London made the recruiter in me. I’m a regular and loyal reader of Ross’ blogs, he is highly regarded in the recruitment industry and his recent blog left me reflecting on my own experiences as a teenager and young adult and how those experiences have shaped my career and have ultimately lead me to a career in recruitment and to starting my own business.

Ross’ blog has coincided with some recruitment I am doing for an entry level reception role at the moment. After receiving over 150 applications, screening those resumes and conducting the subsequent interviews, it’s been no easy task to come up with a shortlist of candidates for my client. As Ross so rightly pointed out in his blog, nobody has work experience or specific industry experience before they have work experience. Yet every one of the candidates that applied for this reception role has had relevant experiences that have shaped them and has prepared them for work even if they have no specific work experience for this particular role.

In reflecting on my own experiences and career journey here are the relevant experiences that I believe shaped me as a teenager and young adult and lead me down a path to a career in recruitment.

Gaining work experience as a teenager. I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to get a part time job. My first real paid job was at Fairy Park where I worked in the kiosk and supervised various amusement rides. Not that I realised it at the time but it was an entrée in to developing my customer service skills, communication skills, influencing and negotiating and having difficult conversations. There was nothing harder at that stage in life than as a 15 year old telling a parent that they did not fit within the weight restrictions to go on certain rides!

While completing my secondary education I also worked part time at UFS Dispensaries and Franklins Fresh (cleaning the roast chicken oven – the worst job I have ever had!). Working during my secondary school years developed my skills in time management, organisation, customer service and communication. I started at the bottom of the ladder, had to do the boring, mundane and repetitive jobs but these experience shaped my values, attitude to work and work ethic. I don’t think the value of gaining experience in the workplace as a teenager can be underestimated and it certainly made the transition in to the workforce in a full time capacity much easier for me.

Not going to university. Yes that’s right – not going to University after completing my VCE was absolutely the right decision for me. I’d done exceptionally well in Year 12, had achieved the ENTER score I needed to get in to all of the courses that were of semi interest to me however I had said throughout my studies that I didn’t want to go to Uni, I wanted to get a job and gain real life hands on work experience. I was lucky to gain a Certificate III Business traineeship with a local real estate agency and spent the first six years of my career there, working my way up through the business. This was the best experience I could have asked for. I was fortunate to work with many successful people and was given plenty of opportunity for development. One of the owners of the business had a mantra “ it’s my way or the highway” an interesting leadership approach yet the experience I gained in working for this person set the bar for quality service and being passionate about the work you do.

Team Sport. Throughout my teenage years I played netball and doubles tennis. I made some great friendships during this time and again I didn’t realise it at the time however being involved in these team sports taught me about being a team player, commitment, rejection and resilience. It fueled that hunger for success, drive and competitive streak in me which has continued through my real estate and recruitment career.

Without these experiences my career journey would look very different today. As a graduating year 12 student I don’t think I even knew what a recruitment consultant was yet I’ve landed in a career that I love and am passionate about. Many years ago a very talented recruiter saw this relevant experience for what it was and offered me a job in the recruitment industry, the rest is now history!

In conducting the recruitment process for this entry level reception role the importance of candidates relevant past has been front of mind and I’ve pondered what it was the real estate agency saw in me when they offered me the opportunity to join the workforce as a full time trainee. Maybe if we placed more importance on people’s relevant experiences, rather than focusing on the number of years and past experience they already have in filling the position, we can give people the opportunity to launch a new career, establish themselves in the workforce and recruit new fresh talent to our businesses.

What experiences have shaped your career and provided you with relevant experience when applying for a position?

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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  • Great post, you got my attention with the fairy park pic! And totally agree that the friendships made playing netball as kids are the best and last forever!
    People often assume to only adding relevant past experience when applying for a position, which I’ve done for my current 4 positions. Would you suggest to always adding ‘first job’ roles to resumes… Eg. Early morning paper run throughout
    Ps. My past experience that has helped me- early morning paper run on a bike 6 days a week throughout my entire high school years. Taught me to value money & you gotta get up rain, hail or shine as no-one is going to do it for you. But, if it is raining, get you boyfriend to drive you 😉

    • Thanks Bek, glad you liked the post. Adding first jobs on your resume depends on your individual circumstances and what other experience you can list. If you are early on in your career adding first jobs like a paper run are a great way to show your attributes like commitment and reliability. Now that you have had more relevant experience with your current 4 positions the paper run is not as relevant so you might decide to leave it off. Ange


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