If you are a student or recent grad, looking for work can feel a bit overwhelming. After all, companies are hiring you to do a job that requires skills you don’t have yet. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Without any experience, why would they bother to choose me?”
The good news is lots of employers must hire individuals without prior experience. There just aren’t enough seasoned professionals for all the open roles. And, let’s not forget, you have to start getting experience sometime, right? In the minds of employers, hiring a newbie can have advantages as follows:
- You have no bad habits.
- You’ll be eager to learn and do well to establish yourself.
- You cost less money.
You see? There are good reasons why employers want to hire you! However, they’re very particular about the kind of entry-level candidate they want. Why? If they’re going to invest time and money into training you, to get up-to-speed fast. With that in mind, here are five things they look for:
#1 - Pleasant, positive personality. The employer looks for someone who they’ll enjoy being around. If you give the impression you are happy and a ‘the glass is half full’ type of person, they’ll be excited about bringing your positive energy to the organization.
#2 - Good manners. Being respectful, by saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Shaking hands with confidence. Making eye contact. These all matter to an employer. They need to know you see the opportunity they are giving you - and are grateful for it. Moreover, they need to know you have the basics of professionalism down pat.
#3 - Desire to take initiative. Employers aren’t going to hold your hand. They want an employee who isn’t afraid to jump in and learn things for themselves. You need to demonstrate through your experiences in school how you have been proactive in your own development. Show them you can self-manage your success. More importantly, show them you know your strengths and how you can leverage them to their benefit. [This Career Decoder quiz can help you assess what strengths you have for the workplace.]
#4 - Track record of timeliness. Employers can’t stand it when new hires aren’t respectful of time. They want consistency. They are paying for your time - you need to show them they’re getting the best return on the investment. Share how you manage to stay productive and deliver yourself and your work on time.
#5 - Realistic expectations. Every entry-level worker has big dreams for their careers - and they should. Unfortunately, sometimes the worker thinks they can bypass some steps to get there. Even though the work you are doing at entry-level may not be that exciting, it serves a purpose: to help you get acclimated to the business so you can add more value later. Remember, every job is temporary. You won’t be doing this work forever, but you do need to prove you can do it exceptionally well. In fact, the fastest way to growing your career is showing you’re capable of doing the work you don’t love, but needs to get done - and, with a smile on your face!
As you can see, if you have the qualities employers seek in an entry-level candidate, you have the potential to get hired by some fantastic employers. Before you know it, you’ll have your first job under your belt and you will be on track to building the career you want!
J.T. O’Donnell is the Founder & CEO of CareerHMO. O'Donnell's mission is to help professionals solve career problems better and faster with CareerHMO's online tools, supportive community, and dedicated coaches.Unlike other advisers, O’Donnell works with both individual clients and corporations, giving her access to emerging workforce trends. With 18+ years of experience, managing, training, and coaching people of all ages on a wide variety of career topics, O'Donnell is a Nationally Syndicated Career Advice Author in 130+ Newspapers. O'Donnell is also a LinkedIn Influencer. Follow her @jtodonnell.