The bottom of the ladder. For most of us, it’s the natural starting place for our careers—the necessary point of entry. Once you wrap a hand around that first rung, you can start climbing. But, in order to even get on that proverbial ladder, you need to start with the very first step.
Or, do you? What if I told you there was a way (or multiple ways, really) to skip that entry-level part of your career and jump right in at the middle? What if you could pass over that whole nerve-wracking beginning stage and land a mid-level job right out of the gate?
Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But, hear me out. There are a few key steps you can follow to up your chances of leap-frogging over all of those entry-level jobs. Here’s what you need to know.
What is an entry level job?
Yes, the concept is simple. But, it’s important that you have a solid grasp of what exactly an entry-level job is before you jump to conclusions and assume you’d rather skip over it.
An entry-level job is exactly what it sounds like: A position intended for someone who’s at the very beginning of his or her career, with very little experience to offer—someone who’s eager to get a foot in the door and start building up a professional history.
Entry-level jobs can be great learning experiences. However, they can also involve low pay and quite a bit of grunt work. As with anything, there are positives and negatives involved.
However, if you think that all of the cons far outweigh the pros and that you have more than enough knowledge and expertise to completely skip this stage, I can understand it. So, here are the four steps you’ll want to follow to prove you’re deserving of a mid-level position right out of college.
1. Know Your Focus
Scoring yourself a mid-level job as a recent graduate actually starts well before graduation. You need to lay the appropriate groundwork early on if you want to strut off your college campus with an impressive enough resume to prove that you’re worthy of a step up.
What does this mean for you? Well, you need to determine your focus and your passion pretty early on in your college career. Whether it’s journalism or engineering, you’ll need to pick your course of action and stick with it.
Narrowing your focus makes it much easier to get impressive, relevant skills and experience under your belt.
2. Gather Experience
Identifying your passion early on definitely makes this step easier. When you have a solid idea of what you’d like to do for the rest of your career, you can start gathering experience while you’re still in school.
Complete one (or, ahem, several) internships in your field. Get involved in extracurriculars that are related to what you want to do. Volunteer for a nonprofit. Job shadow professionals who are already in the industry. Attend informational events, conferences, and seminars.
Basically, do whatever you can to put together a stockpile of skills, experiences, and resources that you can use to build an impressive resume. This will pay dividends when it comes time for you to start hunting for that mid-level job you’re so desperate to get.
3. Analyze the Job Description
I know how easy it can be to get discouraged when you see that “3-5 years of experience” requirement in the description for that job that seems absolutely perfect for you. However, it’s important that you pay close attention to what exactly a certain position is asking for.
Spoiler alert: that “3-5 years” disclaimer doesn’t necessarily mean that an employer simply won’t consider any applicant who has less than that. Instead, think of it more as a warning that they’re looking for someone that they won’t have to teach the basics to—they won’t need to waste time educating that new employee about all of the elementary concepts of the position.
Well, if you’re someone who managed to rack up loads of great experience while still in college? You shouldn’t be so discouraged by this requirement—go ahead and toss your hat into the ring anyway!
However, be forewarned, if the position is an executive-level that requires 15-20 years of experience, you should know your limits. You’re not quite ready for that one yet. Yes, you’ve got skills—but, don’t get too big for your britches.
4. Prove You Know Your Stuff
Listing all of your awesome experience on your resume is one thing. But, if you can actually show what you know? That’s sure to bring you closer to the top of the pile.
So, think of some creative ways that you can showcase your skills and expertise. Pull together a website portfolio to highlight some of your best work. Complete a sample assignment that you can pass along with your application materials.
Do whatever you can to separate yourself from the pack and supplement your application with something super impressive. Employers will always appreciate someone who goes above and beyond—whether you have 25 years of experience or zero.
Sounds like a pretty good plan, right? Of course, while there are never any guarantees in the job hunt, following these four steps should definitely help you in your quest to skip the entry-level stage of your career. So, polish up your resume, give them a try, and see how it goes for you. Good luck!