If you’re a recent graduate looking for a job right now, I know how much it stings to stumble across job listings that require at least five years of experience to be considered. For an entry-level position, this makes no sense. How are you supposed to land an accessible job that you’re qualified for if you’re just starting out in your career? Trust me, if you’re looking for an entry-level job with little to no experience, you are not alone.
If you didn’t have enough time (or the option) in college to have a full-fledged internship or gain relevant work experience, it may seem like an impossible task to break into your industry of choice. Plowing through applications, whipping up personalized cover letters, and trying to sell yourself can be daunting, but don’t give up just yet. There are so many ways to make it in your industry of choice — without faking it. Confidence and solid communication skills are pure gold no matter what your job search looks like, so once you’ve got those down, here are five tips for landing an entry-level job with little to no experience.
1. Submit a personal blog with your application
A well-presented blog that highlights your personal voice and passion for the company (and career field) will show hiring managers your enthusiasm. Submit the link to your blog with your application along with your resume and cover letter. That way, even if your resume is slim, the company will be intrigued by your creativity and ability to package your materials professionally. Your personal blog can serve as an example to show what you’re capable of and what you can do for the company, bringing the focus away from your lack of professional experience or any gaps in your resume.
There are plenty of ways to create a page that clearly shows what you are passionate about and skilled in. If you’re trying to break into journalism, you can write feature articles about your college community or create videos that showcase your tailored efforts. You may also want to include links to your digital presence elsewhere, for example, a photography (Instagram or VSCO), code (Github), or music (Soundcloud) portfolio. Just make sure all of the info you include is relevant to the job you’re applying for.
2. Study job descriptions to match keywords
If you’re looking for an entry-level job, another helpful practice is to get a grasp on the general qualifications necessary for this position. Pro tip: If the wording used in your resume and cover letter aligns with the language used on a company’s mission statement or social media, this can help you stand out from a sea of qualified applicants.
For example, if the job listing says the company is looking for someone with “attention to detail” or “knows how to use analytics,” you’ll want to use similar messaging in your application materials. Even if you don’t have five years of experience in your intended industry, reflect on experiences you do have and highlight the skills you’ve learned. The hiring manager will know you boast the same qualities they’re looking for in a candidate!
3. Use your networking contacts to get eyes on your application
Yes, networking is still in, and you can totally use your professional contacts to help you land a job. Get in touch with past professors, colleagues, and supervisors who can help you connect with opportunities at specific companies. For example, if you have a close relationship with your professor, and the entry-level job you’re applying to happens to be at the company they’ve worked with or have contacts at, you can ask them (respectfully) to give you a quick email recommendation or reach out on your behalf.
I promise this isn’t asking too much! It may seem uncomfortable to ask for help at first, but networking can increase the chances that a hiring manager views your application, and it’s a way to show you’re a hard worker. Trust me, a recommendation from a professional who knows your work ethic IRL can be super valuable — sometimes who you know matters more than what you put on your resume, and this can work to your benefit.
4. Make your cover letter shine
Your cover letter is a longer version of your resume that elaborates on the professional experience you’ve had in the past. It gives you a chance to talk about way more than the few bullet points listed on your resume, but most importantly it gives you a voice and the opportunity to paint yourself as the best candidate, even if your resume feels like it could use a boost. Cover letters can give you a chance to tell your story in a polished, professional way, which can be especially valuable if you’re just starting out in your career or need to pivot into a new industry. Employers will definitely consider taking a chance on you if they believe you’re a great fit. Get creative — perhaps turn it in as a poem, video, or prototype — and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through.
5. Spruce up your social media profiles
Not only is social media important for networking and connecting with potential job opportunities, but it’s a platform for you to demonstrate your value to future companies. When looking for an entry-level job, follow your dream companies and role models shamelessly on the internet. Think about the role you want to achieve someday, even if it feels out of reach. Then, revamp your social media to best align with the industry values. Check out profiles and portfolios for some inspiration and start listing key aspects that define your industry and your role models in it. Clean up outdated bios and contact info ASAP, and get your new career started on the right foot — you never know who might come across your Instagram profile or website and see that you’re perfect for a role they’re hiring for!
When beginning the job search, always remember to do your research and have a strong support system to encourage you when things get tough. Landing an entry-level job can be challenging, especially if you’re feeling underqualified, or as if you don’t have enough experience yet. Although it may seem tricky at times, and frustrating to encounter jobs that require years of experience, try to celebrate the little wins sprinkled through the process – they make it all the better. And trust me – you got this! You’ll be on your way to an entry-level job in no time.