Posted August 06, 2015 by

Getting that Entry Level Job – What You Need to Know

job search written in search bar on virtual screen

Job Search written in search bar on virtual screen. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Your first job out of college – you are ready! As you begin your senior year, it is time to begin that search, and you really can’t start too early. The job market still is not all that great for college grads, but it is better, and certainly far better than it is for high school grads. Still, the market is hugely competitive, so you need to commit to job search activities on a regular basis. Here are some things you really need to know as you begin to look for that entry level position.

Work on that Resume or CV Now

You will want to re-work your resume many times over. And you will want several versions that you will tweak some more each time you send it over to a recruiter or to a hiring manager. Here are a few tips as you prepare it:

1. Be brief. This is probably pretty easy, since you don’t have a lot of career-related work experience at this point. One page for a resume, please.

2. Think creatively about the items you can include for experience.

A. Obviously, if you had a related internship, that experience will be the first item you list (and mention it in your cover letter as well).
B. Think about some other things as well. Instead of listing all of those crap part-time jobs you had to meet expenses, lump them together as one item – various part-time jobs to meet college expenses. You have now told the reader that you took responsibility for at least part of your expenses – that shows commitment.
C. If you had any official positions in campus organizations, list those as individual items – they show leadership skill development
D. If you have had any significant volunteer experiences (e.g., Habitat for Humanity), list them too – they show a sense of social responsibility that is becoming more and more important.
E. If you freelanced at all while in school, and particularly if those activities relate even remotely to the position, describe them – this shows initiative.

3. If positions for which you are applying require a CV, rather than a resume, your CV will probably be a bit scant. Get some professional advice from your advisor about how you can describe any research projects, teaching assistantship, or your thesis/dissertation work in the most compelling ways possible. If the position is entry-level, the decision-makers won’t expect pages, but you do want to “sound” as scholarly and as experienced as possible.

That Cover Letter

Instead of a cover letter, write a letter of motivation to stand out just a bit from the crowd. There are just subtle differences between the two, but the letter of motivation is a bit more assertive (without sounding desperate or like a braggart) relative to why you are an excellent candidate for the position. Do a bit a research and look at some sample letters of motivation – mimic the style.

The Phone Screening

Potential hiring managers often use phone screenings as an additional way to cut the pool of candidates down even further. They only know you “on paper.” Now they want to have a conversation with you to see if you “sound” like a fit. You should get prepared for a phone screening in advance by knowing what questions will likely be asked. Most of them will be pretty generic, and will be about stuff that is already on your resume – they just want to see how you converse. Expect questions such as, “Tell me a little about yourself,” or “What do you consider your strengths?” Have answers to these questions thought out in advance, so you are not stumbling all over your words. And if that call comes when you are in a noisy place, in class, or with friends, simply say, “Could you hold for just one minute while I get to a quieter place?”

Some Additional Things to Think About

Companies that are offering entry-level jobs do not expect a great deal of experience, but there are some things to do to keep “ahead of the game” and make yourself more attractive, as well as some “don’ts.”

1. If the position is offered through a recruitment firm, when that recruiter calls, be professional, but you can be somewhat informal too. Just don’t reveal that you never miss an episode of “Hoarders” or “Entertainment Tonight” – you won’t sound smart.

2. Don’t focus on trying to get hired – you will sound desperate. Change your mental attitude to trying not to get cut from each round of the hiring process. You will be less frantic if you think in those terms.

3. Are there gaps in your schooling? Did you take a year off because you wanted to re-evaluate if college was right for you or your grades were not good? Be honest about it. The fact that you returned more committed and finished is a big plus!

4. Remember that you are always looking. You never know when you may meet someone in a check-out line or strike up a conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop or bar that may be an “avenue” to a job opportunity.

5. Set up a LinkedIn profile – even though there won’t be a lot of information for your profile just yet, a potential employer will be impressed that you have one, especially if you have joined groups related to your career choice.

6. Clean up your Facebook account. This goes without saying, of course. Get your privacy settings in place, and get rid of the “drunk and stupid” photos that might be on your profile page.

Entry level positions are not given to the unassertive person – not in today’s job market. You have to spend a lot of time on your job search. Just consider it another course added to your schedule that has assignments. And use these search tips to guide your efforts.

Author bio: Andy Preisler is a professional blogger and marketer from GrabMyEssay dealing with various types of writings. He intends to help students in mastering their career path. Andy’s passion is sharing his knowledge and self-growth. Find him on Twitter or Facebook.

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