Career Advice for Job Seekers

Entry level business jobs: Your business major isn’t a shoo-in.

Anna Peters AvatarAnna Peters
September 27, 2017


Business is the most popular major on college campuses today. Many students believe a business degree gives them the best shot at employment and a successful career, but according to the Washington Post, many employers disagree. Below we provide a list of entry level business jobs, but first, business majors should read what you are probably lacking and how to make yourself more employable.

We checked in with two recruiting and workforce planning experts for their insight into this. Alexandra Levit is a consultant who prepares employees and their organizations for meaningful careers, and author of the new book “Mom.B.A.: Essential Business Advice from One Generation to the Next.” Todd McQueston is a Customer Experience and Marketing Officer who has had extensive experience recruiting for entry level roles. He currently works at Burning Glass Technologies, a labor market analytics software firm, as the Head of Marketing.

Students’ biggest misconception about business degrees

Alexandra Levit sees this mistake a lot. “The biggest misconception I hear is that you can go out, get an undergraduate business degree or an MBA, and immediately become 10 times more marketable in whatever you decide to do.”

You need to do a little more planning than that. No major or degree is a guarantee for employment (or at least, a guarantee you’ll stay employed). “Before getting a business degree,” says Levit, “you should understand exactly why you need it and have a reasonable expectation of gainful employment afterwards.” Given all the diverse needs among businesses, just having a business degree is not a “one-size-fits-all proposition.”

Skills that business majors graduate with, and skills they graduate without

Business majors often lack soft skillsBusiness students graduate with an understanding of the basics of business. That includes, says Levit, the language and workings of finance, accounting, economics, business operations, and marketing.

The good news is that there are plenty of entry level jobs that require a basic understanding of just one or two of these. (See our list below of the best entry level business jobs.)

The bad news is, according to Levit, is that business majors “often lack applied technology skills, entrepreneurship skills, and soft skills like adaptability, interpersonal communication, and decision-making.”

According to Burning Glass Technologies research, the demand for soft skills continues to be high. They report that one in three skills posted in job ads is a baseline (soft) skill, such as writing and organizational skills. “Even in the most technical career areas, such as IT, one in four skills requested is a baseline skill,” says Todd McQueston.

Related: communication skills is a factor in who gets promoted

We can’t stress enough the importance of these additional skills. Knowledge of finance alone may get you an interview. However, if the next interviewee has minimal financial knowledge, can be trained in the knowledge they lack, and also demonstrates their ability to communicate well, collaborate to solve problems or utilize technology to solve problems—that’s the person you lose out to. Employers often complain about the lack of soft skills in today’s graduates, so it is well worth your while to build those before graduation.

Should you get a minor? Or, how to round out your business education

Round out your business major with other experiencesLevit says that focusing on majors and minors is missing the point. “It’s important that students get as well-rounded an education as possible and incorporate creativity and innovation building coursework that, in the near future, will set humans apart from machines.”

The best place to start is your career services office. They very well may advise you to get a minor, but they might instead point you to certain internships, volunteer positions or other leadership opportunities that can build additional skills.

Also read: career competencies of liberal arts graduates

McQueston says that career services can help by working with students to see how to match their resume to the needs of the job market. “Companies want to know the skills that the candidate has, not the classes they take.  By breaking down the curriculum to match the most in-demand skills of the local job market, learning institutions can help students validate and differentiate their resume from other applicants.”

What makes a business major worth it 

The biggest advantage of going to business school, says Levit, is the quality of contacts you can make there. She advises students to “develop strong relationships with your professors, employers, and fellow students while you are still in school, and if you can, secure initial employment as an intern so you can get a foot in the door early on.”

In other words, you must put in the effort to network with faculty and practicing business professionals who can point you to the places and people that will hire you.

Related: networking and personal branding tips from two recruiting experts

Don’t underestimate the importance of learning how to analyze data, and more importantly, how to use that data to make decisions. McQueston says, “The number of skills expected in a business career is always changing and expanding. As business becomes more data-driven, a business career means the ability to develop databases and manage sophisticated analytics.” For example, according to Burning Glass Technologies research, one-half of the jobs in the top income quartile now demand coding skills.

Search for an entry level business job

Best entry level jobs for business majors

  • Finance. Entry level job titles include Finance associate, Finance coordinator, Finance analyst, Finance/Credit reporter, Financial analyst, Financial technician, Financial counselor, Financial manager
  • Management consulting. Entry level job titles include Business management consultant, Operations & management consultant, Management analyst, Project manager, Program analyst
  • Marketing. Entry level job titles include Marketing specialist, Marketing coordinator, Marketing manager, Digital marketer, Marketing advisor, Marketing analyst, Content marketer
  • Brand management: Entry level job titles include Brand manager, Brand ambassador, Brand copywriter, Brand planner, Brand development, Brand communications manager, Branding specialist

Think getting your MBA will cast away any doubt that an employer should hire you? The Washington Post reports this: “If you’re majoring in business and think the undergraduate degree doesn’t matter anyway because you’re going to business school, remember this: business students score lowest of all majors on the GMAT, the entrance exam for most MBA programs.”

As an example of the complex skills needed in the job market, the graphic below shows the skills needed for a Healthcare Data Analyst. There are five completely different types of skills in this job, as is typically the case for many job descriptions. Business majors will learn a couple of these skills in school. An entry level job in health care could into this data analyst job by adding a few more ‘learned’ skills over time. Conversely, a student majoring in data analysis would need to learn business skills to do their job properly as well.

Job competencies of healthcare analyst

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