Entry level job seekers have a few things going for them: a fresh outlook on life; a clean professional slate; and the opportunity to immediately put their education to use. They are only lacking in one area: experience. Without experience, the focus must be placed on ensuring every factor in your power to control is well-played to your advantage. Take the following tips into consideration as you embark on your job search:
1. In regards to cover letters: KISS. (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Your goal is to capture the attention of the hiring manager in a few seconds – don’t bore them to death with fluff and don’t expect them to read an essay. Include a brief description of your background, explain how you would be a great fit for the role, and finish with a couple of sentences explaining how your experience pertains to the role in which you are interested.
2. Choose a professional email address. Use your full name (first and last) – it’s sufficient, simple, and professional. If your name is taken, try a few different variations, but don’t stray too far. Also, consider the entire email address and be sure to use one of the popular services: Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook. An inappropriate account reflects negatively on you and may lead the hiring manager to question whether or not you’re a good fit for the company.
3. Search social media for job leads. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are becoming go-to sources for job searching. Companies often advertise existing opportunities via social media including a direct link that makes it easy to apply. Follow and like the official pages of companies you are interested in and become aware of their online presence while gaining insight on the company culture and employees.
4. Perform a social cleanse. You’re fresh out of college and you’ve established a digital presence with an audience of your peers following your journey. From house parties to campus events, it’s all documented on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. You’re probably also tagged in pictures and/or videos on the accounts of friends and family. Now, carefully and thoroughly, sift through each and every one of your accounts and the accounts of anyone who has tagged you and delete anything that may be considered inappropriate, suggestive, or controversial by a hiring manager.
5. It’s not always about the Benjamins, baby. It may not be the salary or number that you had in mind, but accepting a job offer that will place you on the right career path and give you the opportunity to add to your experience is not a bad trade off. As an entry-level candidate, it can’t be about the money when trying to get your foot in the door.
6. Really prepare for interviews. Research the company beforehand including information about their mission statement, vision, and current events. Landing a job offer will require more than a fancy résumé and a charming demeanor. Ensure that you fully understand the job description and that you can speak to your experience and how you can apply those skills to the job. Finally, be sure to always have at least three questions to ask the interviewer that don’t involve benefits, pay or employee perks.
7. Network. Make connections and increase your chances of learning about job opportunities that may not be posted on public job boards or company websites. Meeting people in your field and possibly enlisting someone as your mentor will get you started down the correct path. The importance of networking can not be stressed enough and with LinkedIn, networking can be accomplished faster and within seconds. Connect with professionals in your field from anywhere. Just be sure your profile is accurate and complete.
8. It’s never too late to intern. Internships add much-needed experience to your résumé and serve as stepping stones towards your career path. They do not have to be for college credit and they are not limited to current college students. Intern post-college to gain more experience and help get your foot in the door and ready to accept a job offer is made simple as you already have a degree under your belt.
9. Create a job-specific résumé. Cater your résumé to the job description and highlight key points at the top of your bulleted lists. If hiring managers can quickly and easily pinpoint the skills they are looking for, your résumé will have a greater chance of getting tossed into the sought-after “call back” pile.
10. Set reasonable expectations. As an entry-level candidate, you will qualify for entry-level roles. Don’t waste your time applying for roles in which you don’t qualify and don’t embellish your résumé to appear qualified. Setting yourself up for rejection or possible humiliation will only add stress to your job search.