In my time in recruiting I have hired for a ton of different roles in many industries. I have filled roles doing everything from Paint Coatings Scientist to Production Manager at a Pizza Manufacturer to Crystal Growth Scientist. Each role I have recruiting on presents its own challenges. However, out of all the role that I have filled, some of the most rewarding are actually entry level roles. For me there is just something exciting about finding a good fit for a company and also helping someone find their first full time gig. Most of the candidates who I end up placing in entry level roles have a level of excitement that you really only find when this type of novelty is involved. For many it is a point of validation for all the hard work they have out in over the years succeeding in schoolwork, networking and planning their future. With that being said, not all of these interviews got smoothly. In fact, I would say that they have a lower success rate than some of the more senior, niche engineering roles I have filled. You can mostly attribute this to lack of experience. A lot of these candidates who don’t have the best phone interviews or onsite interviews are really good candidates, it’s just new to them and they make a few mistakes that end up costing them. So today I am going to provide you with a few quick things you can do to make sure you go into that interview and nail it!
Get your LinkedIn profile looking awesome!
The first thing I recommend doing is making sure you have an awesome LinkedIn profile. Hopefully you already have a profile set up but if not do it right now! I am serious, open another tab, set it up and come back and ready this. If you aren’t familiar with LinkedIn, its social networking for professionals. You are able to add “connections”, follow companies, join groups, message fellow business professionals and potentially land yourself interviews. The fact of the matter is most corporate recruiters and agency recruiters use LinkedIn as one of their top tools for finding candidates. By having a great LinkedIn profile, you are increasing the likelihood that recruiters will reach out to you with potential opportunities. LinkedIn is nice in the sense that they walk you through the set up. They tell you to upload a picture, add experience, add education and add skills etc. Follow their instructions and make sure you are as detailed as possible and odds are you will have set up a solid LinkedIn profile and take a positive step towards employment. Overall setting up a LinkedIn page is pretty simple and most people have no issue doing it themselves but if you want expert assistance getting a fully optimized profile check out my Resource Page for the link on LinkedIn optimization.
Join entry level career groups in LinkedIn
Once you join LinkedIn you will see that you are able to follow companies, read cool articles and join groups. I am a big fan of joining groups if you are looking for opportunities. One of the things that makes LinkedIn work is that everyone can’t just message everyone. Now this is good for the most part but if you are looking for a job odds are you want hiring managers and recruiters to be able to reach out to you. In order to message someone on LinkedIn you have to be connected to them, have a special membership that costs money (for everyone else the site is free) or you have to share a group. If you are an Electrical Engineer and you join Entry Level Engineer groups, then odds are you will be giving access to recruiters who are looking for entry level candidates like you. So search LinkedIn, find some great groups and join. If you really want to maximize the benefit, feel free to be an active participant. Post articles, comment on others posts and be. Feel free to Join my LinkedIn Group!
Find recruiters who work in your area and connect with them
The next thing I would do is find local recruiters and connect with them. Now that could mean joining a LinkedIn group created for recruiters in your geographic area and sending them connection requests or perhaps you can google local recruiting companies and call in. That might be direct for some of you but as long as you are polite and not overly push you will find that most recruiters will appreciate the effort. The LinkedIn side of this should be easy, find recruiters who work in your geographic area or field and send them the request, that should take care of itself. As far as finding brick and mortar locations, just google them. Find local agencies, make sure they have a solid website and call in to introduce yourself and ask if they work with entry level candidates. You miss every shot you don’t take. And speaking of connecting with recruiters, feel free to Add me on LinkedIn!!
Make sure your resume is solid
This should go without saying but if you don’t have a good resume then you are in trouble. If you are an entry level candidate who just graduated, do you remember your classmates? You know the ones that walked across the stage before or after you? Well if they just graduated and you were in similar programs than odds are you are looking at some of the same jobs. Not to make this overly competitive but that is your competition now. You are pursuing the same companies and applying to the same jobs. Let us not forget about all the other schools with graduates who are now eager to join the workforce. The point I am trying to make here is that given there are a finite supply of openings you can ill afford to have a sub-par resume. They may not be fun but resumes are important. Few quick tips, you can google resume templates and find one you like and copy it. Also, go with traditional colors and fonts, we aren’t impressed with the bright colors. Lastly, personal pet peeve, drop the “objective” section of your resume. Why you ask? Because way more people are hurt by applying to a role that doesn’t exactly match their “objective” than people are ever helped by it. I never look at objectives and say “Oh my, they want to do the job I am hiring for, what stupendous luck!” If you are applying to a role, we already know you want it.
Upload your resume to Indeed
Once your resume rocks, upload it to Indeed. Indeed.com is a massive job and resume aggregator and its only getting bigger. Put your resume up there and you are again increasing the likelihood you are found. Simple as that.
Ask professors if they have industry contacts you can reach out to
DO you have any professors who you really got along with? Any of them have industry experience? If so, ask them if they know anyone who it make sense for you to reach out to regarding opportunities. Now, ideally you will have done great in this professor’s class and you will have cultivated a relationship with them. If not, they probably won’t have a lot of motivation to help you. But if so they can certainly become a resource for you. In my time in talent acquisition I have placed many a phone call to a professor at a school asking how I can share my jobs with the school’s students and alums. At the end of the day, they may not have any way to help you but again, you don’t know unless you try.
Network with classmates who have landed jobs already
Do you have any classmates you have already landed jobs? If so don’t just feel jealous, reach out and congratulate them! The fact of the matter is the last four years of your life wasn’t all about fund and learning but it was also about relationship building. You were networking without even knowing it. If you had classes with someone and you see they have landed a job at a company you respect, reach out to them! (By the way this all can be done on LinkedIn) Start up a dialogue with them. As them how they like the company. As the messaging back and forth wraps up let them know that you are still looking for that perfect fit and since they like the company so much and you are looking for similar things that you would appreciate hearing about any openings in the future. Simple as that. That could be the end of the conversation but they could also say, “well actually, we are hiring two more Jr Test Engineers, send me your resume and I will pass it along to my manager”. Now some of you are thinking, “well Ben, why would they do that?” They will do it for two reasons. The first is that generally speaking, people like helping other people. Sometimes it’s because they hope you could help them in a similar situation down the road and sometimes it’s just because they are genuinely nice people. The second reason is referral bonuses. Most companies have a referral program in which you are compensated when they hire someone you referred for an opening they have. This could be anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand. People like money, if they have an opening and a referral bonus and you weren’t a terrible classmate, they will probably help you.
Practice interview questions
One of the things I see often is that entry level candidates just aren’t prepared for the interview questions they get during phone interviews and in person interviews. While I know interviews are hard and you are new to them, you really don’t have an excuse. I don’t mean that to sound harsh but you have all the tools you need to not only have successful interviews, but to be great them. You have Google!!! You can google the term interview questions and hundreds of websites just like mine will pop up and help you. You can get a list of questions you will likely be asked, write out your answers on a piece of paper (trust me that will help you remember these answers) and practice answering them in a mirror. Get to a point where you say these answers confidently and enthusiastically and as it makes sense, passionately. Even if you aren’t as confident as you would like to be, fake it. Don’t worry, it will come with time. And while I have your attention, check out this post I did about that very topic 5 Important Interview Questions You Must Be Prepared to Answer.
Take the interview
The last piece of advice I have for you is take the interview. Think the company is just ok? Take the interview. They are in an industry you consider boring? Take the interview. You had never heard of them until they called you? Take the interview. I counsel people to interview often and there are two reasons to do this. The first is you never know when you are going to find the right opportunity. I have had conversations I thought would go nowhere turn into awesome opportunities. The fact is you never know until you actually go down that road. Secondly, even if you don’t take the job, the experience of interviewing will help you become a better interviewer. It’s all about repetition. In the same way Steph Curry has launched thousands upon thousands of shots over his lifetime to become arguably the best shooter in NBA history, you too are going to need to practice if you want to be great. And yes, that goes for interviews as well. Now, I am not advocating the wasting of people’s time. Go into every interview with an open mind and if it isn’t a fit, then it isn’t a fit. But trust me, getting those reps help.
Well there you have it. I hope you found these useful, actionable and easy. Do some or all of these things and you will have an easier transition into working life. Always remember, preparation is key. You will never leave an interview saying “Well, I blew that because I was too well informed” but most people can look back at interview they probably could have done better in, including myself. Lastly, is there anything I missed? Are there any good, easy and quick things entry level candidates can to do position themselves to land a job quicker? If so comment below, I would love to read them. Thanks for reading, I hope this help and have a great day!