How Do I Get an Entry-Level Job If They All Require Experience?

You’re about to graduate from college and are seeking an entry-level position to kick off your career. The problem? Most entry-level positions ask for anywhere from one to FIVE years of experience. Suddenly, the panic sets in. How in the world are you expected to land an entry-level job if they all require experience? 

For better or for worse, this is a fairly common situation. Over the past 10 years, the definition of “entry-level” has changed dramatically. Now, it’s not enough to have a shiny new college degree in order to land your first post-college position. Employers expect college graduates to enter their first job after school and hit the ground running.

In today’s job market, the internship has taken the place of the post-college, entry-level job. If you graduate without a couple years of work experience under your belt, you’re already at a disadvantage.

The internship has taken the place of the entry-level job.

The solution? Start building your resume with internships, fellowships, and skill-based volunteer opportunities before you graduate. The more opportunities you’re exposed to, the faster your professional network will grow and the more attractive your candidacy will be to prospective employers after graduation. As an added bonus, many internships lead to full-time job opportunities. 

If you’re already on the brink of graduation and your resume isn’t padded with a plethora of paid internship, don’t panic just yet.

First, take a step back and reconsider your work experience. Many grads operate under the assumption that only paid positions count when it comes to building your first resume after college. This is entirely false! If you held an unpaid internship, worked on a semester-long project for one of the courses in your major, or volunteered your work skills for a worthy charity, these experiences can be included on your resume and can count toward the work experience requirements listed for an entry-level job posting. Don’t shortchange these opportunities when writing your first entry-level resume. 

Next, re-evaluate your job goals. It’s unrealistic to think your first job after college will be your dream job. Instead, consider this initial position to be a stepping stone — the first of many — on your path toward your dream career. 

Don’t be afraid to seek out internships (paid and unpaid), fellowships, apprenticeships, and part-time work to gain the necessary skills and experience to qualify you for the next position you’re interested in. If the position will help you gain exposure to your desired industry or line of work, it’s worth exploring. Remember, you’re at the very beginning of your career. Use this time to explore different career paths and avenues. Take advantage of every informational interview you can secure to make connections in your industry and better understand what you should do to become a more attractive candidate in your chosen field.