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How to Get an Entry-Level Job

Getting an entry-level job is not as easy as you might think.  In this job market, most job postings receive hundreds of applications.  This can be intimidating if you don't have a lot of experience.  The good news is that employers prefer to hire applicants that are at the right level for the position.  For an entry-level job, many employers will prefer a new graduate over a candidate who has been working in the industry for ten years.  The key is to use your unique skills and strengths to show the employer why you are the best fit for the job.  

Use your network.  Your network is important at every stage of your career but when you are trying to enter a new industry, it's absolutely crucial.  Employers are risk averse, which is why they are sometimes reluctant to hire candidates without much experience.  However, if one of their employees is willing to vouch for you, they might give you a chance.

Do lots of research.  What you lack in experience, you can make up for in research.  Learn everything you can about the position, company, and industry.  Study the job description and be able to clearly articulate how your skills make you a great fit for the position.  Read everything you can find about the company and try to develop an understanding of the organizational culture and values.  Read industry publications and websites and make an effort to learn current industry trends and buzz words.  This research can help you appear knowledgeable even without direct experience.    

Make a list of all of your transferable skills.  Even if you don't have paid experience, you do have transferable skills.  Make a list of all of your previous jobs, volunteer work, extra-curricular activities, and hobbies.  Consider all of the responsibilities that you had in each of these roles.  Which of these activities could be applied to your target job?  You might be surprised to discover that you have a lot more relevant experience than you first realized.  

Be confident.  Before taking a chance on someone who is unproven, employers are going to want to know that you believe that you are capable of doing the job.  Be confident in your skills and in your ability to learn the job and the organization.  Tell them that you are ready to hit the ground running!

Be enthusiastic.  Once of the reasons that employers often like to hire new graduates is because of the energy they bring to the workplace.  New graduates are often grateful for the opportunity to start their career.  They are bubbling with enthusiasm and they come to work with lots of ideas.  Don't be afraid to let your passion shine though; it could get you hired over a more experienced candidate.

Trying to break into a new industry can be intimidating but entry-level jobs are intended for candidates with limited experience.  Show the employer what you have to offer and let your personality shine through.  Eventually you'll find an opportunity that's the right fit for you.

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of