Just last week, I had another person reach out to me and ask me how to get an entry level position. Each time this happens, it becomes a very personal story. Each person is different. They come from different areas, educational background, demographic backgrounds, etc. That’s why it is so difficult to tell ‘everyone’ how to get an entry level job. There is no one right answer for everyone.
I do believe, though, there are common things you can focus on to help your chances. But here’s the deal. This is about ‘how’ to get that entry level job, not about how to get your dream job. Many times to get that first entry level job you need to come down on your beliefs and dreams. That will come once you get some experience.
Here are some ideas to try, that just might help:
1. Be Specific. Most people searching for entry level jobs are willing to take anything, and therein lies their problem. Hiring managers don’t want to hire people who want anything. They want to hire people who specifically want the job they have open, and want to come to their company. Even if you don’t ‘really’ want that job and that company, act like you do, if you want the job.
2. Look and Act the Part. Each company has their own culture and language. Some will dress casual grunge, some college preppy, some in your Dad’s old suits, find out how they look, and mimic that look. Mirror their language, volume and tone. Don’t be super loud and aggressive if everyone you meet is chill. Also, don’t act chill if they’re acting like they had four Red Bulls before you arrived.
3. Network and involve everyone you know. We have a weird thing in our culture where we keep it secret that we are looking for a job, from the main people in our life that can help us! Mom and Dad might know, but we don’t tell our friends and neighbors and teachers. We don’t tell Dad’s golfing buddies and the ladies Mom does GNO with on Tuesdays. To get an entry level job you have to be willing to use every angle you have. I would call my ex-girlfriends parents, if I think it would help. Become a LinkedIn expert and make a personal daily goal to connect with so many people.
4. Ask for help. Women are good at this. Guys are awful at this. Pride is a bitch. The cool thing about our culture is people have a really hard time not helping you, when they are asked to help! It makes them feel guilty to not help. Specifically use the word “help” when reaching out to people. “Mike, I need your help. Can you please connect me with Bob at your company?” Mike will.
5. Be All-In. A very common question I get from entry level job seekers is how can I get a position in a specific location (I.E., I live in Michigan, but I want to live in California). This one is really easy. Move to California! But I can’t afford to move without a job?! Then save, and move when you can. If you can’t move without a job for a few months, you are not in a position to move at all. Employers are going to hire entry level from a local pool.
One other way, that HR people hate me saying, to get an entry level job is to intern for free! Doesn’t have to be full-time. It can be one day per week. Offer yourself up for free. Do anything. Show the company how much you really want to work. Should they want to pay you? Yes. Reality of the world we live in can make this very hard for some companies. You do what you have to do to get the job you want.
The entry level job market is the most difficult and easiest market to break into. You don’t need any experience to get an entry level job, but you’ll have more competition for those jobs than at any other time in your life! Focus on what you can control and make it happen!