It’s the biggest question when a college student graduates — how do I get a job? Little do they know they are about to experience one of the frustrating catch-22 experience in their life: An entry-level job that requires experience.
Some entry-level jobs require far more experience than should be necessary too. Amanda Augustine with Top Resume, explained the unfair position candidates find themselves in. “It’s awful…I feel for everybody out there who is searching for a job, especially recent college grads” Augustine told me.
An entry-level job that requires experience?
Augustine has been featured in Today, Mashable, Fortune, Time, and many others and told me “Some want up to 5 years [experience] and they’re called ‘entry-level.'” But it’s not hopeless if you’re a recent college grad. There are clever ways to pass the experience test with flying colors.
While it seems bizarre an entry-level job requires experience, what companies are really looking for you to explain that you, in fact, have had some taste of job experience. It’s not even necessary that you were paid. Perhaps you worked on a large senior project? Make sure that appears in your resume. Did you have an internship? That also counts. Perhaps you worked a side gig in college? Count it.
Augustine explained if a candidate has been doing anything other than studying, there might be something you can leverage. Even if you were an officer for a campus organization that can work too. Employers are simply trying to understand if you have put your strengths to the test and if you have you been in a professional work environment before. And when you do write your experience down, make sure to back it with data.
Data is a big deal to recruiters, hiring managers, owners, executives and anyone interviewing you. Data is how you quantify your skills, so whenever possible apply numbers to your experience. “Any time you can quantify your experience in terms of number of people, money you were handling that’s good. Everybody measures things” Augustine explained. “Hiring is no different, they want to see numbers.”
“Everybody measures things. Hiring is no different, they want to see numbers.”
– Amanda Augustine
Hiring managers are also not completely nuts. They do understand on some level it’s difficult to get an entry-level job that requires experience. They aren’t expecting grand accomplishments, they do (or at least should) know candidates haven’t had time to move heaven and earth. But what if you haven’t done… well… anything? In these cases, Augustine says it’s time to widen the net. Perhaps it’s time to get an internship or apprenticeship. The important thing is: Get these ‘stepping stones’ on your resume. But as you write, it’s important to be ready.
When you did finally sit down to write or refine your resume, know the dealbreakers. Top Resume did a study on the top deal breakers candidates will kill your chances and the vast majority are within easy control for candidates.
Number one is spelling or grammar errors. It’s so simple but it happens all the time. Augustine explained that applicants shouldn’t merely skim or re-read their written resume, instead, print it and read it aloud. Then read it backward and share it with a friend or two. A tool I especially like that catches easy-to-miss errors is Grammarly. (I’m using it right now.)
To get an entry-level job that requires experience, it also helps to avoid the other common error is incorrect or missing contact info. I know it seems odd, but if a company loves your resume and can’t contact you, they probably aren’t going to put the work in to hunt you down. And the last tip Augustine explained was to avoid using images on your resume or putting text in header or footer areas. It gets garbled when it is submitted.
Interview with Amanda Augustine
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