When you are trying to figure out how to get an entry-level job, chances are you have come across numerous job postings that require between one and five years of relevant work experience to be considered for the position. For many students, obtaining this experience can be tough. Constant course work and exam preparation coupled with outside circumstances can all get in the way of getting that relevant work experience in before you graduate. Unless you go into college with a plan in mind, you may find yourself without an ideal job come graduation time. Fortunately, it is STILL POSSIBLE to get into your ideal career without all of the experience necessary. With proper preparation and a positive attitude, you can land a great entry-level job opportunity despite your lack of experience.
Apply to as Many Relevant Jobs as Possible
Though you may not have the required experience, you should still make an effort to apply to all of the jobs that are a fit for you. Many employers will list jobs only to find that they cannot find enough qualified candidates to apply for their open position. This is great news. Because of their high expectations, many students like yourself are hesitant to apply simply because they do not meet the “required” qualifications. This puts you in a smaller pool of applicants that are fighting for the job and will ultimately strengthen your chances of receiving an interview.
How to Apply for the Job You’re Not Completely Qualified For
- Be Confident
Many students get down on themselves for not having the experience necessary and try to justify all of the different reasons for why they don’t have the required experience. Move past that. Instead, focus on why you are the right person for the job and how you can make a positive impact within the company.
- Go Above and Beyond
Because you are starting at a disadvantage, you need to go above and beyond in every step of the job-hunting process. Ensure that you have a cover letter for every application and that you adjust your resume to reflect its relevance towards the desired position.
- Focus on Your Strengths
If you don’t have enough work experience to highlight, focus on other areas that are valuable to the employer. You can highlight relevant coursework that you have taken at your college along with other educational opportunities you have engaged in.
Network at All Times
When you are in college, networking is a huge resource that is often neglected. When you lack significant work experience, networking is a tool that can easily put you ahead of a large sea of candidates all looking for a shot at that desired job position. College students have access to plenty of staff, faculty, and other students who all have direct relationships to businesses and opportunities that you may be unaware of. Because of this, it is important to develop positive relationships with everyone that you come across. By leaving positive impressions on the people that you encounter during your day-to-day activities, you greatly increase the chances that those people will vouch for you when you are looking for an interview. Not only that but by reaching out to your colleagues at school, they may even be willing to reach into their network to help you find a job that fits your needs.
Volunteer in Your Community
Volunteering can be a key differentiator between yourself and other entry-level candidates. Volunteering shows great initiative and allows you to develop both technical and soft-skills without always having to apply for a position. Start out by looking for local opportunities that work with your schedule, even if it means only volunteering for one or two hours out of your day. By staying committed to the organization you are volunteering for over a long period of time, you are able to gain valuable work experience and plenty of stories to share for future job interviews. You may even receive a job offer to work for the organization you are volunteering for! There are plenty of opportunities available online as well. Students can use a website like Taproot Plus to provide their unique skills to non-profit organizations. These types of volunteer opporunties allow you to utilize your current skillset to benefit another organization. The best part is, you never have to leave the comfort of your home. This flexibility is perfect for any college student looking to ramp up their work experience.
Get Experience Through Campus Organizations
Many on-campus organizations allow college students to greatly develop their professional portfolios by engaging in practical projects for real companies. Like Student Hires, some organizations directly collaborate with community partners and establish working relationships so that their organization members can get valuable work experience. To take advantage of clubs and organizations that do this, be sure to reach out to your school’s career center and list of student organizations. When deciding which organization to join, look for one that most closely reflects your passions and interests. Over time, you can significantly contribute to these various student organizations and add more reputable qualifications to your resume during your job hunt.
Be Open to Opportunity
While every job posting might not be the ideal fit for you, you should think of every possible fit as a potential opportunity. Though you may be sacrificing a higher salary and suffer from longer commuting distances in the short-run, developing that base of initial work experience can greatly improve your chances of getting a higher-paying position down the line. For this reason, you should also be open to internships, including UNPAID internships. Unpaid internships may seem like more of a nuisance more than they are helpful, however unpaid internships allow you to dive into a new industry easily. Hiring managers are often willing to provide these opportunities to students with no experience.
The job-hunting process can be extremely difficult, especially for students with no experience. Throughout your journey, be sure to stay positive. Though there may be many ups and downs, staying positive will keep you on track and ensure you reach your goal in the long run.
Student Hires Paid Job Opportunities
Student Hires offers paid job opportunities for students who go above and beyond in the work that they do. If you’re interested in becoming an apprentice in one of our departments, please be sure to apply.