Spring is often graduation season, though people graduate all year round. And the next step on your journey is finding an entry-level job.
Whether you’ve always known what you want to do or still have no idea, you may not know where to look or how to find entry-level jobs. Don’t fret! We’ve got you covered. Here’s your guide to finding your first real job! (Also, check out FlexJobs’ post on high-paying entry-level jobs!)
What Is an Entry-Level Job?
An entry-level job is for people who don’t have a lot of professional experience. These jobs give new hires the support and training they need to grow and advance their careers. Employers will often give entry-level hires training, access to mentors, and opportunities to take on projects that expand their skills.
Though career changers might have a lot of professional experience, they often don’t have professional experience in their new field. An entry-level job is often the perfect solution for them because while they possess some skills, they don’t have all of them and can’t take advantage of the support and development the employer offers.
Do I Need Any Professional Experience?
Theoretically, no. However, many entry-level job seekers may encounter job postings that require some job-related experience.
So, how do you get the experience to get the job when you don’t have any experience? Though you may not realize it, you probably possess some of the skills the employer is looking for. These are your transferable skills, and they are the skills you use in any and every job, even if you didn’t learn them from a job!
For example, if the job posting states that applicants should have “some project management skills,” think about a time when you managed a project. Were you part of a group project in school? Did you help keep things moving? Maybe you created a task timeline or helped teammates overcome challenges they encountered. These are project management skills (not to mention collaboration skills!) you can highlight in your cover letter and resume.
How to Find an Entry-Level Job
While graduation season is often the best time to look for and find entry-level jobs, these kinds of jobs are available all year round. Here’s how to find an entry-level job no matter when you’re job searching.
Beyond Your Major
When you’re fresh out of school, you might think you have to look in a specific field to find entry-level jobs related to your major. While that’s a good place to start, sometimes looking in career fields outside your major can help you find jobs that are still a great fit for you.
For example, if you majored in anthropology, you may think you have to look for anthropologist jobs. But that career category likely has limited job openings. So, think about all the skills you gained while studying anthropology and how those skills can transfer to another job.
You likely flexed your data collection skills, so look for jobs that allow you to take advantage of those. And you probably did a ton of research and writing, so jobs requiring research and writing are probably right up your alley. Looking beyond what you studied and expanding your search to include your skill set can introduce you to jobs and fields you would never have thought about.
Create and Use a Plan
Graduation season is a busy time, so it’s easy to let your job search sit on the sidelines. To make sure you don’t neglect it, create and use a job search action plan to keep your search on track and keep yourself accountable.
Set up goals and milestones for every day, week, and month of your job search. Then log and track everything you do and don’t accomplish. This gives you a record of what you’ve done and what you have to do. It also gives you a record of everything you’ve accomplished along the way to help lift your spirits should your job search get frustrating.
Even though your goal is a full-time, entry-level job, don’t overlook part-time roles, internships, or volunteering. While these types of jobs don’t pay as much (or at all), it’s an excellent way to build the skills you’ll need for your full-time role and hone your transferable skills. Plus, taking on something that isn’t a full-time job gives you the opportunity to test-drive the role. You never know! You may discover you love the job and choose to follow that career path.
Attend Job Fairs
In-person and virtual job fairs are often designed for entry-level job seekers. Hiring managers attending school job fairs understand that anyone approaching their booth likely doesn’t have much professional experience.
And if you’re not in college, that’s OK. There are plenty of public job fairs that often have entry-level job openings no matter what you’re looking for.
Use Your School
Along with job fairs, schools often have an alumni association and career services office to help you with your job search. They can connect you with companies that are hiring in your major (or outside of it), put you in touch with alumni willing to mentor you, and even offer career coaching and counseling to help you figure out what comes next for you when you don’t know where to start!
Use Job Boards
Job boards are, of course, a great way to find all kinds of jobs. And of course, there are all kinds of job boards. The “big” boards are the obvious place to start your entry-level job search. However, because they are big, many job postings get tons and tons of applications. Make sure you customize your cover letter and resume to help explain why you’re a great candidate for the role and to help you get past the applicant tracking system (ATS).
In addition to the big boards, consider using smaller, niche boards. These boards tend to specialize in a specific field or type of job. While you’ll see many of these openings posted on the big boards, you won’t have to filter and sift through all the job postings just to find the few you’re interested in.
So, if you know you want to work at a startup, try searching on job boards that specialize in those kinds of postings. If you know you want a flexible job, limit your job search to boards that only post flexible openings.
Check Social Media
Many companies have a social media presence. In addition to using it to sell themselves, companies often use their social media accounts to connect with candidates and post job openings. Sometimes the opening is announced on social media before it hits job boards, so follow the accounts of companies you’re interested in working for.
Following a company’s social media is also a great way to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to work there. You can see what its culture is like and figure out if you’d be happy.
It’s often said that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and this adage still applies to job searching. If you haven’t already created a LinkedIn profile, set one up and start networking with others. Reach out to friends you’ve met at school, and consider connecting with teachers.
But don’t overlook in-person networking events. These are often run by your alumni association, professional groups, or others and are a great chance for you to meet people in your field and learn more about what it takes to get an entry-level role.
The Next Big Thing
Starting your first “grown-up” job is a big deal. Of course, you have to find it first! Following the tips in this guide will help you get started and connect with a job as quickly as possible.
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