As a recent college graduate, you’ve spent years studying, you’ve earned a degree (or two) and according to the job posting, you still don’t qualify for an entry-level position. It’s a classic catch-22, you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. Understandably, this can be incredibly discouraging. Not to worry though, many of these entry-level jobs are within the reach of new college graduates who follow these 5 steps:
Step 1: Be Confident (and emphasize your motivation and eagerness to learn)
Employers want to hire people who are motivated and excited to learn. Really assess what you have to offer, let the employer (and your network) know that you’re eager to learn and open to opportunities. The more experience you get at promoting yourself and being able to showcase your skillset the sooner you’ll land the opportunity you’re looking for. Gain confidence and marketability by learning everything there is to know about the industry and the job. Make sure you’re staying current, reading industry articles, following companies on LinkedIn, networking (see step 4), and joining groups both online and offline.
Step 2: Don’t Turn Down an Opportunity to Learn
Take advantage of any hands-on learning opportunities you can find! Find internships, part-time jobs, micro-experiences, academic projects. Know the value of volunteer work, unpaid internships, and temporary roles. Never stop looking for ways to learn and grow. You’ll achieve so much more and expand your network leaps and bounds by putting yourself out there. Try to look for ways to create opportunities for yourself instead of just sitting around and waiting for a job offer.
Step 3: Translate Your Experiences (and tailor your resume)
You might be more qualified for that role than you think. Although you might not have direct experience for the job there is an excellent chance that you have experiences that you can draw from. Think about your summer jobs, internships, research projects, and even your volunteer work and consider ways you can demonstrate their relevance to the position that you’re applying for. Really focus on highlighting your transferable skills and tailor your resume to the specific job opportunity.
Step 4: Network
One of the most important things that you can do is to take advantage of networking. Thoughtfully seek out connections that can teach you about the role and/or the company that you’re applying to. Networking is an ongoing long-term process, so this is not the place to ask for a job but rather an opportunity to connect with individuals who work in careers and industries that interest you. When someone from your network recommends you for a role, that’s an even stronger way to get into a company. It’s important to realize that making the right connections can help open up doors that not even qualifications can.
Step 5: Apply Anyway!
You’ve found an entry-level role that you’re really excited about, you fit the majority of the qualifications and all you’re missing is the 1 to 3 years of suggested experience – you should consider applying anyway! If you have a solid understanding of what your strengths are; if you are expanding your knowledge by pursuing opportunities for hands-on experience; if you have created a beautifully tailored resume that highlights your transferable skills; and if you’re actively connecting with and developing your network – you’re setting yourself up to be a prime candidate for that entry-level role.