Today’s post comes to us from Andrew Pearl, Certified Resume Writer and Partner at Precision Resumes. UCFs College of Business Office of Professional Development is proud to have Precision Resumes as an official partner and those of you in GEB 3003 will have the chance to hear from Andrew as a guest speaker.
I asked Andrew, what are some of the most common questions you get from new job seekers regarding their resume and job search:
“Postings for entry-level positions are asking for two years of experience. How do I get my foot in the door, if I don’t have any experience?”
This is one of the most frequent questions recent graduates (and people making major job transitions) ask us. When “entry level” no longer seems to mean “entry level,” how do get your career off the ground? Here are a few words of wisdom to consider.
Take Job Posting Requirements with a Grain of Salt
Even if a job posting asks for two years of experience, the candidate who receives the job offer may not actually have two years of experience. When a prospective employer develops a job posting, it’s a bit like writing out a list of toys you want Santa Claus to bring you for Christmas. Employers include every large and small qualification they desire, obviously to attract high-caliber talent; however, the winning candidate often doesn’t possesses EVERY single point outlined. You may have less experience than supposedly required by the job posting, or you may not be an advanced user of a specific software application the posting mentions and still land the job. You may be the best fit without hitting every point in the posting. In fact, some employers might even incorporate “requirements” outside the expected scope of experience for many entry-level job seekers, just to reduce the number of applicants. The point is, don’t be afraid to apply to postings that might seem a little out of reach. With an employer-focused resume and an effective interviewing strategy, you can overcome this type of challenge.
Communicate Dedication to the Job/Employer
An issue many employers face is that when a recent graduate takes his first job in a new career, he may use that position to get his foot in the door at another company and leave within a year. Training a new employee is expensive and takes time, so it’s crucial to convince the hiring decision maker that you aren’t just looking for a “job,” you’re looking to establish a career and grow with the organization. This is where a strong LinkedIn profile and targeted cover letters may come into play, as they allow you to convey how you are searching for a position less transitory than many of your recent graduate or job transition counterparts.
Don’t Forget Extracurricular Activities and Volunteer Work
If you’re new to the real business world, leverage volunteer work and extracurricular activities during your job search. If you led a club, controlled a budget for an event, or even managed a lengthy school project, you should detail those activities in your resume to simulate professional experience. Nearly all of us have demonstrated some sort of leadership, communication, or problem-solving skills by the time we graduate; the trick is to identify and articulate the best examples and communicate transferable skills to prospective employers.
Look for Internships and Networking Opportunities
Internships are another great way to acquire experience for your resume. Additionally, networking is as critical for recent grads as any other job seeker; for many new graduates, an Internship is the first opportunity to start developing a network of industry contacts.
An advantage to networking is it can help you circumvent the obstacles of a traditional search including the “entry-level job requires two years of experience” dilemma. Attend alumni and community networking events, but also talk to your family and friends and see if anyone knows any connections you can contact.
The key to an entry-level (or career transition) job search is flexibility. Sometimes you have to get creative (without lying, of course!) when it comes to conveying your value proposition in the today’s highly competitive job market. A few closing tips:
- Learn to network effectively;
- Cast a broad net when applying for positions;
- Look for examples of experience in all aspects of your life that you can leverage during your job search;
- Don’t let a daunting list of requirements prevent you from applying to a position;
- Keep a positive attitude and seek support groups if necessary.
Best wishes to all the recent graduates out there!
Andrew Pearl is a Certified Resume Writer and Interview Coach with 9 years of experience in the career services industry. As a partner of Precision Resumes, Andrew has prepared thousands of high-caliber resumes and has helped numerous job seekers achieve interview success. He offers extensive expertise working with IT, finance, legal, PR, and healthcare clientele and possesses a proven track record of success helping government, private, and non-profit job seekers advance their careers through superior messaging, resumes, and interview coaching.
Andrew was recently published in the book 101 Great Ways to Compete in Today’s Job Market, contributing a chapter about identifying and highlighting employer-focused experiences and achievements on job seeker resumes.
Additionally, Andrew has held sole writing and editorial responsibility for a $30M publicly traded software/HR company’s Annual Report, RFPs, RFQs, and training materials.