Any professional person will tell you that entering the job market after college can be a daunting task. The job advertisements that employers post online request applicants with vast years of experience and extensive tertiary degrees, which for someone just entering the job market, doesn’t inspire much faith. However, there are a few things that young applicants can do when entering the job market to better their chances and stand out in the crowd of resumes.
Firstly, apply for an internship. An internship affords students and graduates the chance to acquire first-hand exposure of working in the real world. It provides multiple opportunities to harness your existing skills and knowledge, while simultaneously improve your skillset as you learn from the people who have been doing the job many years. This provides you with experiences, lessons and the tools needed to excel when you enter the job market as an official employee, and carries a lot of weight when trying to prove your mettle to a hiring manager. In addition, they are great to have on a resume and can often lead to a full-time job offer at the company you’re interning at, come the end of your internship.
Make use of connections. That means asking your network of family and friends to find out if there are any junior positions available at their companies. Applying for jobs when you’ve been referred provides greater credibility into your abilities, as Human Resources and hiring managers have a higher likelihood of giving a chance to someone who their current employees can vouch for.
Several entry-level job openings may also be advertised internally before being made public, which will give you, the applicant, an opportunity to make an early impression and compete for the job in a much smaller pool of talent.
Thirdly, apply for the job you desire, despite not necessarily meeting the entry-level requirements. Most applicants don’t apply for jobs when they don’t meet the list of requirements because they feel that they won’t be successful. However, in some instances when a list of candidates isn’t necessarily ideal, companies may consider a college graduate. This works in their favor as graduates come with a clean slate and can thus be molded and shaped into the employee that the company needs them to be. Although you shouldn’t apply for every position that becomes available, it is worth trying your hand at positions even when you feel you might not fit the requirements.
Finally, know your strengths and weaknesses and highlight your strengths in your application. Make sure to emphasize your excitement and motivation for the position and the opportunity to add value to the company. Just like people, businesses have a personality. Finding the right people who fit an environment and company culture is as important as delivering on tasks, and who you are as a person may just be the quality that pushes your application over the edge.
It’s not easy to get a job without experience, but it can be done – millions of employed people around the world are a testament to that. So don’t lose faith. Remember, your first step to getting your foot in the door within your future industry starts and ends with you. Check out our video series on How To Ace A Job Interview to get useful advice on nailing your first interviews.