9 Things All Entry-Level Workers Need to Know
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Published January 25th, 2016 at 11:00 AM
Lifestyle — By Zahra Barnes
9 Things All Entry-Level Job Seekers Need To Know
These tips will turn you into a hiring manager’s dream.
Trying to land a new job can be intimidating no matter where you are in your career, but being entry-level makes the process especially confusing. Learning from your mistakes is a valuable (and inevitable) part of the process, but every little bit of advice that can help you avoid a slip-up is a plus. Here, career experts explain nine ways to get ahead of the game even if this is your first step into the work world.
1. Make the hiring manager’s job easier.
Hiring managers have to sort through tons of résumés and cover letters, meaning yours can fade into the background unless they immediately catch the right person’s eye. Certified career coach Hallie Crawford suggests making your résumé easily scannable by using a simple format with bullet points and bolding, and peppering both your résumé and cover letter with keywords from the job description. Not only will they be more likely to jump off the page as a recruiter reads over your materials, they’ll help ensure any résumé-reading software doesn’t preemptively take you out of the running because you don’t seem like a good match.
2. Identify your soft skills.
As opposed to something like using company technology, your employer can’t teach soft skills like leadership. “Look on LinkedIn to research your peers and see how you can stand out from others in your field based on your unique set of strengths, classwork, and personality type,” Crawford tells SELF. Better yet, don’t just say you’ve got those skills during interviews—come up with stories that show you’ve got them, like the time you took charge of a team project during your internship.
3. Network in more than one way.
Get your foot in the door of a certain field or company in multiple ways instead of just one. “Don’t be afraid to attend industry networking events to make new connections at companies you want to work for,” says Crawford. You can also set up informational interviews with people who can loop you in, or ask around to see if anyone in your family or friend group has a connection.
4. Always ask about the hiring timeline during an interview.
The interview process can drag on for what feels like centuries. “Sometimes you don’t hear back when you expect to, so you’re left hanging,” Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster, tells SELF. To avoid future freak-outs, during the interview ask when you can expect to hear about next steps. You can even take it further by saying you’d love to follow up and verifying that it’s OK if you do so every week or every other week. If that’s too much, they’ll likely tell you. But if they’re OK with you following up, you’ve lessened the likelihood of worrying your great interview was all a fever dream because you’re hearing crickets. (Although sometimes hiring managers still seem to fall off the face of the earth for months. It’s an unavoidable job-searching hazard, and if you get no response after a few follow-ups, consider spending that time looking for other opportunities instead.)
5. Send both virtual and physical thank you notes.
Slipping a post-interview thank you card into the mail has practically gone the way of dinosaurs, so you’ll stand out in a great way if you make it a habit. “You’d be surprised by how few people send hard-copy thank you notes,” says Salemi. Using email to say a prompt thanks isn’t a bad thing, because expediency is key when you’re trying to make an impression after an interview. Plus, since most other candidates will likely default to virtual thank yous, it might look strange if you don’t.
The solution: send both. The email can go out right after the interview and mention that although a formal thank you is in the mail, you quickly want to express gratitude for your interviewer’s time. It helps to add a detail or two about how the interview further solidified your interest in the position. Then send a more fleshed-out version via snail mail. “When I was a recruiter, cards tended to sit on my desk a little longer than an email would last in my inbox,” says Salemi. “Each time I saw a card, it would serve as a reminder about the candidate.”
There is always something to be grateful for #Papyrus #ThankYou
6. Once you get the job, show up early.
This isn’t a mandate to arrive two hours before anyone else in the hopes that your boss will notice. Instead, Salemi suggests making a habit out of getting to work 15 to 30 minutes early. “Let’s say you get into the office at 9:00 because your job hours are 9:00-5:00,” says Salemi. “By the time you get a cup of coffee and check out the headlines, it’s around 9:20, so you don’t have breathing room before your day begins.” There are two extra benefits to padding the start of your workdays, namely that you look diligent (but not overly so), and if you’re running late one day, you’ll probably still be on time!
7. Dress for a level one step up from your current role.
If you start your first job—or an entry-level one in a new industry after a career change—it’s time to upgrade your wardrobe. “Even if the dress code is pretty casual, look at what the higher-ups are wearing,” says Salemi. “You want to get to that next level, and dressing for the part can help.” That doesn’t mean you have to break the bank! Here, 11 ways to dress like you don’t have student loans.
8. Look toward the future.
Even if you’re fresh on the job, it helps to have six-month goal and one-year goals. “People can get settled into a routine, and then two or three years go by in the blink of an eye,” says Salemi. Thinking ahead will make sure you’re doing whatever necessary to make the ideal next steps, like signing up for a class to learn special skills. “Taking a proactive approach by having a lot of coals in the fire helps prevent panic when the time arrives to make some changes,” says Salemi.
9. Keep your résumé updated.
You might think you can forget about your résumé for a few years after you start a new position, but Salemi recommends staying on top of it. “If you get into the habit of updating your résumé as you go along, it won’t need a massive overhaul when you’re ready to look for a new job,” she says. Instead, copy and paste the job description into your résumé while you still have it, and spruce it up as you progress in the role. Then when you’re ready to make a move, you’ll have all the evidence of why you’re ready to take the leap laid out right in front of you.
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