How to Get an Entry Level Job
Throughout my career, including my most recent role as VP Global Talent Acquisition at Amazon, I've been involved in the hiring of literally thousands of entry level college graduates. I've seen what works. And what doesn't work.
Entry level by definition means jobs that are the entry point into a career. So they typically require education, but little in the way of professional experience. They are essentially the first job after getting your education or degree. Some say: "I can't get a job with no experience." Yet entry level jobs are defined as jobs for college grads who have a degree but have no experience. You simply need to know how to look and where to look for a good entry level job.
This step-by-step guide will lead you through the process of finding an entry level job. Jobs with no experience. Or at least minimal experience required. Keep reading to learn the simple steps for how to get a job with no experience but a degree. Not finding just any job, but entry level jobs that pay well.
Before you begin, bookmark this page and then set reminders for yourself so you can come back to it periodically as your job search progresses through each one of the steps. This is your guide to the best way to get a job with no experience.
Step 1: Get targeted and focused
You need to be able to clearly articulate what is in and what is out for your entry level job search. If you are looking for any job, you will likely fail. You need to be specific. You don't want to just get any job, you are looking for professional jobs that match your skills. Instead of asking "why is it so hard to find entry level jobs near me", ask the following questions: What entry-level job type? What industry or industries? And what geography?
This is where you need to translate your education, degree and major into the world of work. While some degrees directly translate into a specific job type (think of examples like Computer Science, Accounting, Chemical Engineering, etc.), other degrees (think Philosophy, Liberal Arts, English, etc.) are more nebulous. It is up to you to project your education and your degree into your preparedness for doing real work. Both by targeting and then developing yourself and your content (next step). If you cannot write a clear and concise job objective, narrowed by job type and/or industry and/or geography, check out our How to Write A Resume Objective guide. Once you have your specific job objective, you are ready to move on to the next step.
Step 2: Develop your content
It's not enough to simply choose a job objective. You have to make sure you are properly prepared for the entry level requirements for the job. That means having all of the necessarily education and/or experience required for the job. This may include getting an internship (or two) to better prepare you for entry into the job market after college. If you're not sure what the educational or experiential requirements are for your chosen career path, take time to review our Careers page for in-depth information on more than 300 entry level careers.
As a next step, review the Entry Level Job Postings that match your chosen objective to further review the actual requirements being posted by employers. Then do a gap analysis. If you are still in college, you have time to fill that gap before graduation. Once you have developed your content, you are ready to move on to the next step.
Step 3: Write your entry level resume
Your entry level resume should be uniquely your own. Your education. Your experience. Your content. Don't use someone else's cookie cutter content in place of your own. That said, you should use a resume structure specifically designed for entry level resumes. Our award winning Quickstart Resume Templates are available online for free as structured Word templates. If you would like a more automated approach, you can use our Quickstart Resume Generator to simply fill in your content and details.
Every successful entry level resume should have four sections: 1) contact; 2) resume objective; 3) education; and 4) experience. You can optionally include a summary section (recommended) as well as an activities section if you have little or no work experience. For more help and a detailed step-by-step approach through each section of your entry level resume, see our How to Write an Entry Level Resume guide. Once you have your entry level resume prepared, you are ready to move on to the next step and apply for a job.
Step 4: Find and apply for entry level jobs
The difficulty for most entry level job seekers is finding jobs that are truly entry level. College students can easily be discouraged when they take a quick look at most job sites and realize how many years of experience are required for most of these positions. You won't be qualified for those "experience required" jobs until 2 or 5 or 10 years into your career. Entry level jobs are, by definition, the entry job into a specific profession or career. So how do you find the entry level jobs that will allow you to get the 2 or 5 or 10 years of experience these other jobs require? You need to specifically filter for entry-level jobs.
At CollegeGrad, we allow you to refine your search to see only entry level jobs or even filter to only see internship jobs, allowing you to quickly cut through the clutter of experience required jobs to focus on those jobs for which you are truly qualified. Use the Advanced Job Search filter to search for entry level jobs or internships targeting your job type and/or industry (using Keywords) and/or geography (using Located Near), along with other filters on when the job is posted and sorting preference.
Don't just look at the job titles, take the time to review each job in detail and dig deeper into the employer information at both our site and the employer website itself. You can also take a top-down approach to find out who is hiring and for what type of roles by reviewing our Top Entry Level Employers list of more than 400 employers representing tens of thousands of entry level jobs. Take time to customize your response to each employer and follow up whenever possible in order to move on to the interview phase of your job search. After you find and apply for entry level jobs, you are ready to move on to the next step toward getting a job.
Step 5: Interview successfully
You can have a great background, great education and great resume, but if you do not interview successfully, you will not get hired. Job interviewing is a new aspect of your life going forward and a valuable life skill. You were likely taught as a child not to talk too much about yourself, yet interviewing is exactly that—talking about yourself. Better, selling yourself. Explaining to the interviewer why you are the best candidate for this job. In order to do this successfully, you need to be a S-T-A-R interview. You need to answer each question behaviorally with the Situation or Task, the Action you took and the Results achieved to achieve a full S-T-A-R answer.
Unlike prepping for your college exams, you can actually review all of the potential questions in advance. Read through our 100 Common Interview Questions in detail. Don't just read through them casually or even academically. Read each question thinking about how you would respond. What example would you use, from your education or experience, to best answer each question? Then think about how you would build out your answer following the S-T-A-R principle. Then practice in advance. Have someone else go through the interview question list with you in prep and have them critique your answers.
Once you are ready to interview, know that the actual interview will be much more difficult than your friend or family member asking the questions. A well-trained interviewer will probe deeply into your answers. Interviewing is a skill in which you will improve over time. So don't be discouraged if you don't ace your first job interview. It typically takes time and multiple interviews before you get to the point of an actual job offer. Once that happens, after you have interviewed successfully, you are ready to move on to the next step.
Step 6: Negotiate your best job offer
It is truly a great day when you finally receive a job offer. However, do not make the mistake of immediately accepting the first offer made. Doing so may leave options on the table that you could have explored further. Before you accept the job offer, you need to: 1) call in all pending opportunities; and 2) make sure the job offer is acceptable.
When the initial offer is made, you should be ready to ask additional details about the employer, the offer and the benefits package being offer. And always request time to respond. Ask them to provide the offer in writing, which should also include details on the benefits package. Then ask when they need an answer. While some employers may pressure you to make an immediate decision, it is reasonable to ask for 2 to 3 days to respond. During that time, you should immediately call in all pending opportunities. If you have other opportunities where you are already a finalist candidate, let them know immediately and give them a response timeframe. If there are other opportunities pending that are still in early stages, evaluate whether they will be able to respond quickly enough to be a contender for your consideration. If you're not sure if they can respond quickly, just ask. Employers can be surprisingly fast and efficient when they know that a candidate is about to accept with another employer, especially if it is a competitor.
Then take the time to fully understand the offer itself. It is totally fine for you to ask additional questions of your employer contact. Here is a Job Offer Checklist that you should complete. If you are unable to complete any of these checklist questions, ask your employer contact. Benefits in particular can be surprisingly complex and you may not have thought about it in depth until now. Understand all 25 components of your job offer benefits package before making your final decision. Once you have called in all pending opportunities and fully evaluated the job offer (or offers, as the case may be) in hand, you need to personally decide if the offer is acceptable to you or not. If yes, accept the offer. If not, counter offer or simply continue your job search. After you have negotiated your best job offer, you are ready to move on to the final step.
Step 7: Start your new job!
After you have accepted the job offer, you should call your new boss and ask this question: "What can I do between now and my start date to best be prepared to hit the ground running on day one?" Then do everything your new boss recommends. It will be a great way to prep for your new job in advance and also set you up with your new boss as an employee that is willing to put in an above-and-beyond effort to be an outstanding employee. You are now on your way.
That's it! You're launched! You have successfully completed all of the steps and you are now on your way in your new entry level job and career. However, one more personal step we would request is that you tell your friends who have not yet found a job about CollegeGrad.com and the resources available here. We are here to help. Thanks! And congrats!