8 Steps to land the entry-level job you want
Unless you have direct access to a careers service, it’s rare that a course in schools, further education or higher education includes detailed information on how to find a job. For many people, it’s common not to even know what they want to do next – never mind how to get the job you want.
And yet there’s a huge pressure to get a job – particularly after university. You have debts to pay, and you want to make use of your learning. And you need to get on the career ladder. You may be under pressure from family, friends or society in general to get on and ‘find a job’. We’ve put together 8 easy steps towards landing the job you really want.
To get that first job and start on the road to a successful career, you’ve got to have a job search strategy.
You might decide to take any job to get some money coming in, but just ‘any job’ may not be what you really want. So, if you’re ready to get started on a career, it’s time to start doing things seriously.
Step 1: Set your job Goals
Do you know what career you want, or do you need some experience to help you decide?
It’s tough to set long-term career goals right at the start of your career, especially when the workplace is evolving so rapidly. It may be better to use the first few years to explore different jobs, gain quality experience, and learn more about the type of company you want to work for, and the type of work you want to do.
As a starting point, get a pen and paper and make a list of industries and job roles that appeal to you. Include the type of environment (structure, people, stability, growth) and think about why those factors motivate you. To help you, create a three column table:
- Write all the posts and positions you have already held in the left-hand column.
- In the middle column, write down what you enjoyed most about each role.
- In the right-hand column, write what you disliked about each role
- This will help you to see what works for you, which in turn lets you narrow down the sort of roles to look for.
Step 2: Update your CV
It may be a while since you’ve had to update your CV – or you may not have one at all. A good CV is essential to job hunting success, so follow our advice in the first section of this guide to help you put together a succinct, relevant and impactful CV.
Start by adding to your table above with three more columns:
- In column 4 write down the tasks you undertook for each role.
- In column 5 think about the results you achieved – and be specific about them and write them down.
- In the final column, write down the skills you developed and used in each role.
Now you can update your CV, highlighting your complete skillset and achievements.
Step 3: Review your social media
Social media is a great channel to get yourself noticed by potential employers. Unfortunately, employers also use social media searches to discover if there are things in your past or present that could be embarrassing to you – and therefore to them.
So it’s worthwhile reviewing the posts, comments, and images on your social media accounts to make sure they give an accurate picture of your life as it is today. Keep in mind, even if your profile is private, people can still see your profile picture!
Remember that LinkedIn is the professional version of social media, so if you have a LinkedIn profile it’s less likely that they will check your other social media channels.
Step 4: Align your LinkedIn account with your CV
LinkedIn is a fantastic tool. To gain the most from it, make sure that your profile tells the same story as your CV – we have talked about how to do this in the section above. Having your profile up to date also means you’re much more likely to appear in LinkedIn searches and appeal to hiring managers and recruiters looking for entry-level employees like you.
Step 5: Develop an ‘Elevator Pitch’
An elevator pitch is a 30-second summary of who you are. It’s designed to grab the interest of anyone you meet and, done effectively, can help to get your foot in the door. The best elevator pitches are engaging from the very beginning, so consider what you think is exciting or are passionate about and start with that.
For example, instead of saying: “I’m a chemistry graduate, with a master’s degree in fuel technology”, say: “I’ve always been excited by the potential to develop more efficient engines using alternative energy sources.”
Step 6: Network, Network, Network
Developing a professional network is critical to job hunting success. And let’s be clear that networking isn’t about selling yourself; it’s about developing relationships and sharing information so that people can get to know you and learn to trust you. There are some easy ways to get started:
- Remember every interaction is a networking opportunity – you might meet next employer at the most unexpected place!
- Stay in touch with people you know from university, societies, workplaces, family and friends – literally everyone you know. Personal referrals always put you at top of list. Don’t forget to utilize your school or university’s alumni network for this too.
- Use LinkedIn to connect with professionals in your target industries. Be genuine when you do this and always add a personal note when you ask someone to connect – there’s nothing people like less than having random connection requests with no context or reason. LinkedIn has a useful tool for this – “Alumni tool”
- Go to industry meetups, conferences, and jobs fairs to expand your network, find out more about what employers are looking for, and practice your elevator pitch.
Step 7: Prepare to interview effectively
Interviewing is a skill that can make all the difference between succeeding in your job hunt and getting another rejection. The key to good interviewing is research, preparation and practice.
Visit the company’s website, learn about their structure, culture and approach, look on LinkedIn for the type of people who are already working there and what they are sharing or saying. Look at similar roles and research what employers are looking for. The more information you have, the more confident you will be.
You should prepare answers to questions that are likely to be asked, and practice your delivery so that you can answer those questions naturally. Every question at an interview is an opportunity to demonstrate that you possess the skills, attitude, and ability the hiring company are seeking. You’ll need to practice perfecting your delivery – so do attend any interviews you are offered, even if not interested just for the practice. And don’t forget to prepare your own questions to ask too – this shows initiative and interest in the position.
Step 8: Negotiate Your Salary
Ask about salary and benefits before the interview. Even at entry-level, you may be able to negotiate you salary, commission, benefits and bonuses once you have been offered a role. The salary negotiation process can be a delicate one, especially at entry-level. You’ll need to know your worth, what the going rates are in the industry, location, and type of company you are joining. Then you need to think about how to discuss your requests with the company and understand when it’s good to compromise. It’s an art and a skill. If you are applying for jobs through a recruitment firm, your recruitment consultant can function as the go-between, negotiating your package for you and removing the stress – it’s part of their day job.
Following the eight steps will help you approach the challenge of finding a job strategically and methodically. You’ll present the best version of yourself on your CV and your social media, develop a network that will help you now and in the future, and get the expert support and advice you need to take the first step towards a rewarding career.