I have met with two experienced candidates recently both looking for a training contract. The question comes up: “how do I compare to the other candidates coming straight from school / university / LPC?”.
Good question this, as I think that experienced candidates need to tackle this very directly in their application form / cover letter. One of the candidates that I met had a technical background with a few years’ experience as an engineer, and had a credible story about that leading to a role specialising in intellectual property. The other had a few different jobs, including paralegal roles and years before mortgage broking. The problem with this second candidate was that he had not put together a credible story about where this was leading.
In itself, having some other previous professional experience can be positive or negative – it all depends on whether the story makes sense. The potential employer needs to see a specific path to a department or expertise that is not expected for an inexperienced candidate – in fact it would be a mistake for an inexperienced candidate to be too focused on a specific department in an interview or from day 1 of a training contract.
I think that an experienced applicant is one of the rare situations where a motivational statement on a cv is justified (for those rare cv + cover letter application requirements).
By the way, after our meeting, the second candidate did improve his cv to show a clearer direction into a training contract or compliance role in financial services.