Understanding Entry-Level Jobs

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 26, 2022

Published May 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

After graduation or your first internship, you'll probably start looking at your career options. Since this will be your first step into the workforce, you may have to start with an entry-level job. Entry-level jobs vary in terms of skills, experience, education, and industry. It's essential to learn more about these jobs to be able to apply to jobs that best meet your qualifications.

In this article, we define entry-level jobs, their benefits, how to identify them, the required skills, and how to excel in them.

Related: Show Hiring Managers That You're Ready to Work

What is an entry-level job?

Entry-level jobs are jobs that require minimal education and professional work experience. These jobs may open up higher-level job opportunities. Some entry-level jobs may still require specialized skills or higher academic qualifications. There are some situations where entry-level employees are trained on the job to gain valuable industry experience and knowledge.

Entry-level positions could mean that the employer is looking for young professionals who have a bit of prior experience, for example, through an internship. They are not necessarily looking for someone with full-time experience.

Many entry-level positions are applied for by college and high school graduates. Professionals who want to switch careers can also apply for the same positions to get a foothold in a new industry.

Related: 15 Entry-Level Jobs That Pay Well

What are the benefits of an entry-level position?

Whether you are starting on your career path or changing it, entry-level jobs are beneficial. These jobs are a recommended way of gaining professional work experience in a new field. You get to learn the daily workings of a new company or industry.

You can also get the opportunity to advance within the company as positions open up. You could be the first choice the manager considers for a new opening since you are already well-versed with most of the training.

How to identify the right entry-level job

Having little or no work experience at all can mean that you have fewer options when looking for a job. Nonetheless, you can still find your ideal entry-level job. All you need to do is know how to conduct your search by following the steps below:

1. Find out your current skills, abilities, and strengths.
2. Customize your job search.
3. Review job descriptions.
4. Consider jobs outside your qualifications.

1. Find out your current skills, abilities, and strengths

Get to know what you are good at, what interests you, and the skills you possess. Create a list of your education, skills, experience, and interests. Add volunteer and internship experiences if you do not have a work history. Do all of this before embarking on an entry-level job search. You should have most of this information already prepared in your resume, but it's a good idea to consider these things again while searching for a job to give yourself a clear picture of what you want to do.

Related: 12 Recently Graduated Jobs to Consider (With Helpful Tips)

2. Customize your job search

Different industries have different definitions of entry-level. For example, an entry-level medical doctor needs several years of education and practical experience. Whereas, an entry-level customer service assistant doesn't need any prior experience and can be trained on the job.

It may be more helpful to use certain keywords in your job search such as recent graduates or entry-level. If you are seeking a specific position, you may need to use industry-specific job boards or newsletters.

Another alternative is to contact your local career centre. Most local employers advertise jobs in local colleges and universities to get graduates to apply. You can also attend a career fair and submit your professional resume.

If you are interested in working with a certain company, check their official website or social media for open positions and then apply directly.

Related: 14 Job Search Tips To Help You Find the Right Job

3. Review job descriptions

Review job descriptions to gauge whether the entry-level requirements and your qualifications match. This should be well-stipulated in the requirements section of the job post. Browse through the section that contains a list of the hard and soft skills to determine if you have the required education and experience.

It may be a good idea to customize your resume to match the details in the job description. Use specific keywords in the description and highlight them in your resume.

4. Consider jobs outside your qualifications

Sometimes you may need to start your career with a job that is not related to your educational history. One way is to join an entry-level position and then later advance your career. For example, you can start as a customer service assistant and gain the required experience to become a company customer service specialist.

Related: What Are Job Levels at Work? (With Sample Jobs and Salaries)

Common entry-level terms used by employers

When seeking out entry-level jobs, it's wise to know what terms to search for. There are entry-level jobs that are marked that way while others may have titles such as assistant or associate. The common entry-level job terms include:

  • Entry-level

  • Graduate

  • Associate

  • Apprentice

  • Novice

  • Beginner

  • No experience needed

Related: Tips From a Recruiter: How to Stand Out When Changing Careers

Skills for entry-level positions

Usually, an individual might feel overwhelmed when applying for an entry-level position for the first time if they do not know what the employer is looking for. However, having an idea of the necessary soft and hard skills can help boost your application. Some of the top skills include:

  • Communication: Communication skills, both verbal and written, are important for any entry-level job as it affects every aspect of a job.

  • Microsoft Office: The ability to use Microsoft Office alongside other programs such as G-Suite is critical.

  • Ability to learn quickly. Companies are attracted to versatile employees. Such employees adapt to new situations and learn new things quickly. They have a willingness to ask questions until they understand.

  • Organization skills. Organization in the workplace is non-negotiable. Keeping track of progress, projects, and important documents requires an employee who is also properly organized in how they operate.

  • Collaboration. Teamwork is the spirit that keeps an organization going. Companies look for employees who will work in sync with their company values and culture. Collaboration fosters unity, which is essential in achieving goals.

  • Social media. Most entry-level employees may be required to know how to research major social media platforms. They should also know how to use them to communicate.

  • A positive attitude. A positive attitude is an essential interpersonal skill that shows employers that you'll be a positive addition to their organization.

Related: How to Write an Entry-Level Cover Letter (With Examples)

How to excel in entry-level Jobs

No matter your career ambitions, entry-level jobs are your first step to a solid career path. While most entry-level positions may offer a lower salary than other jobs in the field, the experience gained is valuable. Here are a few tips that may prove useful in excelling in entry-level jobs:

1. Take advantage of the learning opportunities
2. Explore all career paths available in your position
3. Make a good impression

1. Take advantage of the learning opportunities

An entry-level job is a great opportunity to learn. This opportunity will allow you to grow in your career. Try to understand the dos and don'ts of the industry and company. Ask questions that will be useful in your career. You can also use this opportunity to network with other professionals in your field and develop your resume.

2. Explore all career paths available in your position

An entry-level employee has enough time to explore other opportunities in their industry. Learn every aspect of your position and make informed decisions, since most entry-level jobs lead to different career paths. You can shadow other departments and see how they operate or find a mentor who can guide you as you explore different career options. A good mentor will help you steer your career path from an entry-level to a higher one.

3. Make a good impression

Entry-level employees are in a good position to make a good impression on their managers and colleagues. Consider taking the initiative and demonstrating a positive attitude. Show that you are dedicated to your position while taking up the responsibilities of your role. Seek clarification and take notes.

Additionally, consider asking for additional duties if the current ones are delivered satisfactorily. Request feedback from your supervisor and be willing to accept it. This will enable you to note the areas that you should improve on so you can perform well in your present role and progress in your career path.

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