Q&A: ‘Entry-Level’ Job Ads

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QUESTION (from recent college graduate):

Even the jobs that say “Entry-Level” go on to state months or years of experience required. How does a person who is fresh out of training get experience when every single posting seems to require it?

Many job descriptions are “wish lists.” Employers hope to find someone with 2-3 years experience so that they won’t have to spend as much time training the new employee (in theory). But the reality is that the job only requires entry-level skills. Apply for the job anyway – apply for any job where you feel you meet 70-100% of the criteria.

In your cover letter and resume, stress your professional skills. Tell the employer how your past education and work experience qualify you for this position. Make sure your resume lists your transferable skills (skill you used on an unrelated job that will help you on the job you want). Also make sure your Technical Skills section is very detailed and lists the skills the employer is asking for in the job ad.

If you can, add any related freelance, volunteer, internships, community group or club activities to your resume. Include related activities that you did in high school and college or as hobbies. For example, if you are applying for IT positions and you just fix your family and friends’ computers, teach a computer class at church, or helped your mom with her home business Web site, put these activities on your resume. Employers are more interested in unpaid work that’s related to your field than they are in unrelated part-time jobs.

Remember – your resume should market you and your skills for a specific job. Its target audience is a manager who doesn’t want to guess or assume about your skills, he or she wants to see it spelled out on your resume.

As for those job ads, don’t let them trick you into thinking that you are not qualified for entry-level jobs. You are! Employers are looking for a reason to say “no” to you. They are afraid of hiring someone and having the person be the wrong skill or personality fit for the job.

If you show confidence in your skills and present yourself as a professional, then an employer will be more willing to take a chance on you. And if you never show confidence in your skills, then why would an employer ever take that chance?

Take every opportunity to tell the employer about your technical skills, willingness to learn and work hard, and your professional attitude. There are a lot of companies out there waiting for someone with your skills and experience.

Good luck and stay positive!

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