Modern Rules for Entry-Level Job Seekers
Compared to previous generations, entry-level job seekers today have more flexibility in some ways and less flexibility in others. On the one hand, many recent graduates have higher student debt. It’s natural to feel pressured if you are tired of living with your parents and concerned about your finances. However, you also have more choices. Social media makes it easier to find information and make contacts. You also have more options when it comes to creative working arrangements.
As you might expect, you’ll make more progress if you focus on your advantages. Find your first position with these tips for using job boards and other entry-level search methods.
Using Job Boards
Job boards can be a valuable resource in your entry level job search. They are one of the fastest ways to identify a large number of potential employers.
Use these strategies with job boards:
1. Strengthen your resume. When you are one applicant in a crowded field trying to impress a blind contact, your resume needs to be impressive. Be sure to use relevant keywords, quantify your achievements, and proofread carefully.
2. Write cover letters. Regardless of how many applications you submit, it is important to customize each one. Think of your resume as describing your background while your cover letter tells an employer the value you would bring to them.
3. Follow up. Unless you are instructed not to make contact, it is usually smart to reach out. A quick phone call gives you a chance to ask questions, offer more information and express your enthusiasm. As a bonus, it also makes you more memorable.
You will probably want to spend the majority of your time on methods other than job boards. Your most promising opportunities are likely to come from networking, building relationships and other more personalized activities.
Incorporate these ideas into your job search activities:
1. Intern and volunteer. Think beyond full time salaried jobs. Your first professional opportunity may be an internship, freelance or consulting gig. You can also gain experience and make contacts doing volunteer work while you are unemployed.
2. Interview for information. Even though you want a pay cheque, you will gain more if you focus on gathering information. Talk with your contacts about how they started their careers and what advice they can give you. Increase your knowledge on this topic at the upcoming online workshop, Learn About Informational Interviews on June 22.
3. Virtual Coffee Chat. While face to face communications are ideal, some of your contacts may be available only by phone. You can make the most of a 15- or 30-minute phone call by being prepared and asking if you can stay in touch. At the end of the call, ask if there is anything that you can offer in exchange for their time.
4. Explore campus resources. If you are a new grad, your college or university is a great resource to support in finding you a job. Visit your career office on campus or online to check job listings, attend job fairs and access other services.
5. Contact recruiters. Executive search agencies filling entry to mid-level positions may be interested in you too. Send them your resume so they can keep you in mind in case their clients have additional openings.
6. Brand yourself. Start packaging yourself as soon as possible. Clarify your professional values and career goals. Build up your social media presence and look for opportunities to help others. Ask others for feedback on areas where you need to grow. Learn more about personal branding in the upcoming online workshop, Personal Branding on June 16.
7. Be consistent. Approach your job hunt like a full-time job. Get organized, project a professional image and make a to-do list for each day. The more time you spend searching, the sooner you will be employed.
Ask yourself what you can learn from your first job and how will it prepare you for the next step in your professional life. Choosing an entry level job wisely can help launch you on a rewarding career path.
A great book to check out is Launch Your Career, by Sean O'Keefe, available as a book, ebook or audiobook.
Want more guidance for your job search? Join Kadine Cooper for the online workshop, Job Search Strategy and the Hidden Job Market on June 23.
Need some personalized career advice? Book a free one-on-one appointment with a Career Coach in Residence.
Post written by Kadine Cooper, 2022 Career Coach in Residence.
The Career Coaches in Residence program is generously supported by RBC Foundation and with the support of several donors.