Landing an Entry-Level Position in the US
Are you looking for an entry-level position in the US? Discouraged by job posts that ask for experience even though they say they are entry-level? We have some helpful advice for you.
Are Employers Just Hopeful a Unicorn Exists?
It’s no longer uncommon for employers to post jobs looking for their perfect unicorn, even when it comes to searching for entry-level positions. Employers depict the ideal candidate in job postings, knowing full well that they’ll accept a candidate that meets 80% of their criteria. This tactic frustrates job seekers, especially those recent college graduates that are on an emotional high of graduation and then get knocked down by the reality of misguided job boards.
If the description of an entry-level job position states that it requires experience, and you don’t have any, don’t rule it out. Again, recruiters will post for the “ideal candidate,” 9 out of 10 times, but then they wake up and realize the unicorn doesn’t exist. If you let a job description scare you away, you will miss so many opportunities to include yourself in the candidate pool recruiters end up selecting from.
Lack of Experience? Start Networking
It’s never too early to start networking. In today’s digital world, it’s so easy to get your name out there, better yet, your work brand. If you are an active student, I encourage you to begin creating a social presence to expose yourself to those that will help you land an entry-level position, when the time comes. Excellent platforms such as LinkedIn will allow you to create an account as a student. In addition, you can designate yourself as such and still connect with professionals. Seek to connect with professionals that are in your desired field.
Try Cold Pitching
Another approach can be to research companies that you think you’d like to work for, and target professionals that work for the company. You may ask, “well what do I say to them when I reach out to network?” Well, you learn to cold pitch if you don’t know them, but the ideal is to be able to leverage a common connection so you can “warm pitch”.
An example of a pitch:
Hi Claire (make sure you get their NAME; no Dear Sir or Madam)
Congratulations on [something cool they've recently made news for]! I LOVED the information you shared - especially [your biggest takeaway from their blog post/speaking gig/video].
Briefly, I’m [whatever it is you do well] and really dig what you and your team are doing over at [YouTube/iBlog/Insta, etc]. I checked out your website and am thrilled by the idea of joining your team and helping you do more epic stuff. My superpower happens to be [skill #1, skill #2] - and people always come to me for [skill #3 and skill #4].
If you have room for an enthusiastic [whatever you are] who loves your brand - let’s chat next week! When would be a good time?
Have a great Sunday 🙂
If you have the name of your mutual connection, feel free to name drop – briefly – and tell them how you know your mutual. However, don’t get bogged down with this, especially if you don’t know the nature of their relationship.
It’s Okay to Talk to Strangers
The good thing about networking is that it’s expected for strangers to come out of nowhere and begin a relationship, based on commonalities. You might be a student interested in connecting with an individual for possible mentorship or as an early introduction that you seek employment after graduation. You may not know what field or company you desire while in school. That’s not a problem, and that’s what school is for. You have the time to expose yourself to various studies and interests without having to fully commit to a career. Take advantage of the opportunities you have or can create by connecting with individuals in those fields.
If you want more hands-on guidance, the pepelwerk app can assign you to a career coach who can help you figure out your desired path.
You Are Your Brand – Take it Seriously
Whether you are mid-career or entry-level, remember that recruiters look at your skills and achievements, especially when you don’t have formal work experience. Keep this in mind in regard to your social presence. Your social accounts, portfolio sites, and even blogs form your work brand. In your Talent Profile on pepelwerk, your LinkedIn profile, and even your Insta profile, try to paint an image of yourself that tells a story of skills gained through life experiences. For example, that time you had to stand in front of your class and present a talking point without the use of cue cards. That represents the skill of public speaking and the ability to verbally recite information by memory.
Tease Out Skills from Your Experiences
You are going to have to leverage your skills when you are short on experience. Look at your extracurricular activities and target the skills you used in each one. How about times you volunteered to help with an event and worked in groups? This shows the ability to: organize; show up on time; be dependable; and teamwork. Any experience will translate into the use of skills. Once you know which skills you developed during your experience, you can leverage them in any workplace.
So, how do you gain life experiences? Well, this is where the most effort will come in to play when preparing to land your entry-level job. Get yourself involved! Especially in a school setting, there are hundreds of opportunities to join clubs, volunteer, gain an internship and network. If you're out of school, find local groups to volunteer in.
When it comes to landing an entry-level position, focus on the skills you’ve acquired and not the number of paycheck stubs you’ve collected. When given the opportunity for an interview, describe what motivates and excites you. Let the hiring manager know how you plan on utilizing your skills to create success in the role. You got this!
Summary: Landing an Entry-Level Position
Even if you have very little experience or none at all, pepelwerk can give you a helping hand when trying to land an entry-level position. Download our app today and create your Talent Profile, in order to start matching with the right jobs, based on your skills, abilities and interests.