When you think of entry-level jobs, a few common qualities probably come to mind. Most will ask for a High School diploma. Others may even prefer a college degree, either generalized or specifically in an area applicable to the given job. Soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and organization may also be on the menu.
What you don’t expect to see in entry-level jobs, however, are calls for experience.
After all, doesn’t that go against the definition as we understand it for entry-level jobs?
It turns out that in today’s market, employers are expecting more than just a college degree. They may even be dismissing recent grads with no prior experience, regardless of the position being listed as not requiring any work history in the field.
The Bias Against Recent Grads
While the requirement of experience for entry-level jobs is a new phenomenon, it’s one that is rooted in a long-standing issue. Employers in many companies have a general dislike of recent grads fresh on the job market. If you’re on the receiving end of the disdain, it may seem more than unfair. But employers often have good reason for their reluctance to hire fresh out of school.
Employees fresh out of school are often looking for a job for a job’s sake. In other words, they seek employment to pay the bills. These types of acceptances can lead to temporary positions and high turnaround, which is bad for a company’s bottom line. According to some studies, it can cost a company as much as 150% of a person’s salary to replace a short-term employee. This includes things like training time, loss of efficiency and covering overtime for employees left behind to fill in.
In addition, while the job market is much improved there are still numerous qualified candidates with experience. These would-be employees are often willing to take a pay cut for an entry-level position in their field. The result is a number of employers who know they can offer a job as entry-level with corresponding starting salary. And they can do this while expecting something more in the way of job history or hands-on experience.
So What’s a Recent Grad to Do?
If our frank analysis and your own experience in reviewing recent entry-level jobs has left you with a doom and gloom view on your potential employment prospects, take heart. All is not lost in the entry-level market. There are a number of steps new graduates can take to set themselves up for entry-level job success.
While you’re in school, whether it be high school, trade school, college or beyond, consider taking on an internship. Also, You can volunteer with a non-profit or community group in your field. Maybe try with a leading expert on research or publishing in your desired area of employment. While not technically “work” experience, this will let your potential employer’s know you’re serious about working in the field. It will also show them that you have more hands-on application in the position than a standard graduate.
Want the best chances of scoring that just-out-of-school position? Look for openings that are applicable for your major, degree or study concentration. This will help you rise above the candidates that are looking to just get employed. And that makes you more attractive to potential employers.
Genuinely interested in a position which you may not have relevant practical experience for? Consider pleading your case in a cover letter (yes, those still exist).
Writing a paragraph or two about why the particular career is a passion can go a long ways to showing you’re interested.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Simply Hired.