How to find entry-level jobs

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Catch-22 in Bellingham, Washington

23 months ago

Recent college graduate here who is currently looking for work. I graduated with a bachelors degree, majoring in applied mathematics and statistics and minoring in history. I don't have a lot of relevant experience, other than a summer job as a research assistant. I was wondering if anybody had any advice on where to look for entry level jobs. Most of the jobs listed on job boards and company websites state a minimum of 2+ years experience are required to apply for the job. So any advice on where to find jobs for a college graduate with little experience would be appreciated.

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Catch-22 in Bellingham, Washington

23 months ago

Anybody have any advice?

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Catch-22 in Bellingham, Washington

23 months ago

Still looking for some job application advice. I keep changing the language on my resume to fit job descriptions and revising my cover letter but it starts to feel useless when I know that my application is only being scanned by a computer most of the time. I would really appreciate some advice for a recent graduate looking for an entry level job

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Bluetea in Texas

23 months ago

Catch-22 in Bellingham, Washington said: Still looking for some job application advice. I keep changing the language on my resume to fit job descriptions and revising my cover letter but it starts to feel useless when I know that my application is only being scanned by a computer most of the time. I would really appreciate some advice for a recent graduate looking for an entry level job

The "Experience Factor" is a huge obstacle in today's job market. Submitting online apps is usually an exercise in futility. The computer wants experience and very specific experience.

Look for side doors:

1. Small companies are less demanding.
2. Knowing someone on the inside is helpful.
3. Target the following keywords - part time, evenings, weekends. These jobs are often hard to fill.
4. Contact your old alumni. People hire people they know.
5. Get off the Internet - too much competition.
6. Read some books on Networking.

There is no easy answer.

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Riot in Ware, Massachusetts

23 months ago

I agree with much of Bluetea's advice and would add that you should make sure you apply to even the jobs that require experience. You're self-selecting yourself out of the applicant pool if you don't. Make them/their software choose at least.

Also, out of curiosity, are you looking for jobs in your field or just "any entry-level position." If you specify which industry, some on here may be able to offer more directed advice.

Good Luck!

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

23 months ago

Catch-22 in Bellingham, Washington said: Anybody have any advice?
Just apply anywhere and everywhere. Apply to job postings. Send resumes and letters of interest. Knock on doors. In your case, apply to school systems, colleges and universities.

Posting resumes on job boards is an option, but you'll most likely receive e-mails offering insurance sales and crap. I agree with applying for jobs regardless of experience.

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Catch-22 in Bellingham, Washington

23 months ago

Thanks for all the advice. I'll try applying to jobs regardless of experience, most of the time it doesn't seem as though the experience requested is really necessary to perform the job anyway. I'm looking for an analyst type position, probably in the business field, that would make use of my mathematics background but don't really want to limit myself.

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Jeff in Denver, Colorado

23 months ago

With a degree in applied math, you should put your emphasis on universities and research institutes. Most programming support for research is performed by people with math or applied math degrees, since that type of work doesn't usually interest CS majors.

Also, go ahead and apply for jobs that require a little experience IF you know something about whatever they're requiring. They might want someone with experience, but that person might not exist. Applying for jobs is cheap.

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Cheshire in Mississauga, Ontario

23 months ago

Start with something simple.

Build a spreadsheet and do some research of companies that do the type of work you want to do.

Write them all down with key info in different categories.

You can use this spreadsheet to keep track of your applications and it will give you invaluable insight into your industry b/c you'll see trends and common themes all of which will ultimately help you in interviews. You'll sound more intelligent and be able to articule and use common industry phrases.

I currently have one going and its amazing. I'll spend some time googling and reading and adding to it every week.

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Cheshire in Mississauga, Ontario

23 months ago

Make sure you have a tightly put together cover letter and resume that highlight the skills you have in relation to what is being asked. I swear if you put energy into these things they WILL make you stand out (this is coming from someone also looking for entry level whose had much success obtaining interviews). A lot of people apply haphazardly to anything and everything. Don't do this. This is where the spreadsheet comes into play.

Look into internships (as much as you might not want too, they are often an necessary evil).

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Jake in Sycamore, Illinois

23 months ago

I would also take a look at municipalities and state governments. Much of the attrition in the public sector labor market is over now; states and localities are beginning to hire again after nearly 5 years of reducing their labor force. Look at state and local health departments, who need people in lead abatement, public health, emergency response, food inspection, and disease control. Look at localities looking to hire HUD grant-funded positions, for neighborhood inspectors, weights & measures, etc.

These are civil service positions, so the application consideration process is both more fair AND longer. That's the trade-off; you'll get a pair of eyes on your application but it'll take them months to fill the openings. However, the public sector is a great place for recent grads to look, particularly if you have a 4-year education. Just prepare yourself to be patient through the process.

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Jeff in Denver, Colorado

23 months ago

guest in Berkeley, California said: The problem is that university jobs tend to require a PhD.

Otherwise it is a good idea.

Not true. Universities and research organizations employ lots of support staff, including programmers, system and network administrators, and web developers. Professors make up a minority of the staff at universities.

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Jake in Sycamore, Illinois

23 months ago

Jeff in Denver, Colorado said: Not true. Universities and research organizations employ lots of support staff, including programmers, system and network administrators, and web developers. Professors make up a minority of the staff at universities.

I agree. A lot of university jobs only require undergraduate-level work. Ratio of academic staff to teaching staff is probably 4:1, maybe higher.

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Catch-22 in Bellingham, Washington

23 months ago

Thank you for the idea of applying to local/state government and university jobs, those are two areas I haven't looked at yet. A spreadsheet of applications is a great idea, at the very least, I can keep track of where i've applied so I don't waste time reapplying to a company

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Jake in Sycamore, Illinois

23 months ago

Catch-22 in Bellingham, Washington said: Thank you for the idea of applying to local/state government and university jobs, those are two areas I haven't looked at yet. A spreadsheet of applications is a great idea, at the very least, I can keep track of where i've applied so I don't waste time reapplying to a company

Applying for civil service can be frustrating because it takes a loooong time to make any headway. A department manager will send a request to fill, usually to their HR, who will submit a funding request to whatever governing body handles the budget. Then they post the position, sometimes for weeks or months at a time, while they gather applications. Then you wait. They'll call you in for an exam of some kind, which often seems completely moronic because the exam won't have anything to do with the job you applied for. Just ignore your frustrations with that and plow through it.

Over the last few years, states of scaled back union support and other civil service protections for public employees, so they aren't are secure as they used to be. But the benefits are, by and large, better than the private sector, while the pay is usually a bit less. It's a trade-off. But the important thing to remember is to be patient during the process because it will take a long time.

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Bluetea in Texas

23 months ago

Catch-22 in Bellingham, Washington said: Thank you for the idea of applying to local/state government and university jobs, those are two areas I haven't looked at yet. A spreadsheet of applications is a great idea, at the very least, I can keep track of where i've applied so I don't waste time reapplying to a company

There is tremendous competition for those gub'mint jobs now. My sister works for the university system and they get over 500 hundred apps for every opening now.

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Jake in Sycamore, Illinois

23 months ago

Bluetea in Texas said: There is tremendous competition for those gub'mint jobs now. My sister works for the university system and they get over 500 hundred apps for every opening now.

I have recently (within 3 years) worked in HR (budgeting) for a large, Midwestern municipality, and the only time we received a large number of applications like that was for clerk positions like police aides, filing clerks, or school secretaries - jobs that didn't require college as a "minimum requirement" on the job description. For professional work requiring a bachelor's degree, such as public health nurses, teachers, budget analysts, and property appraisers (for example), our volume was significantly less, even in the peak of the recession.

Most of the applications we saw at any given time (90%, even higher at times) did not satisfy the minimum requirements listed on the job description. A great deal of the HR analysts' time would be spent weeding out those apps that didn't satisfy the education requirement. They would collect perhaps 75 apps for a lead abatement position and pass on maybe 7 or 8 for the civil service exam, and the top 5 would be placed on a eligibility list from any given exam slot. The hiring managers would then draw from that list for interviews.

Accordingly, if you do apply for civil service positions, make sure you precisely meet the minimum requirements. Don't worry too much about the "desired" qualifications, as those aren't typically used to weed out applicants before an exam. If you meet the minimum, you should at least be eligible to take a civil service exam that places you on an eligibility list.

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Bluetea in Texas

23 months ago

Jake in Sycamore, Illinois said: I have recently (within 3 years) worked in HR (budgeting) for a large, Midwestern municipality, and the only time we received a large number of applications like that was for clerk positions like police aides, filing clerks, or school secretaries - jobs that didn't require college as a "minimum requirement" on the job description. For professional work requiring a bachelor's degree, such as public health nurses, teachers, budget analysts, and property appraisers (for example), our volume was significantly less, even in the peak of the recession.

Most of the applications we saw at any given time (90%, even higher at times) did not satisfy the minimum requirements listed on the job description. A great deal of the HR analysts' time would be spent weeding out those apps that didn't satisfy the education requirement. They would collect perhaps 75 apps for a lead abatement position and pass on maybe 7 or 8 for the civil service exam, and the top 5 would be placed on a eligibility list from any given exam slot. The hiring managers would then draw from that list for interviews.

Accordingly, if you do apply for civil service positions, make sure you precisely meet the minimum requirements. Don't worry too much about the "desired" qualifications, as those aren't typically used to weed out applicants before an exam. If you meet the minimum, you should at least be eligible to take a civil service exam that places you on an eligibility list.

Don't know about the public sector but in the private sector, they just keep tacking on requirements to thin out the herd.

Now you need an MBA to work in the mail room or be willing to work nights, weekends and Christmas Day.

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Jake in Sycamore, Illinois

23 months ago

Bluetea in Texas said: Don't know about the public sector but in the private sector, they just keep tacking on requirements to thin out the herd.

Now you need an MBA to work in the mail room or be willing to work nights, weekends and Christmas Day.

One of the benefits of civil service is that they have to be fair about the process. You know what the details of the job really are because they have to post them. You know what the minimum reqs are because they have to disclose them.

This isn't to say that's it's necessarily any "easier" to find work in civil service, but a lot of the nastier practices you find in the private sector are actually illegal for most jobs in the public sector. Now, of course there are higher end political appointments that aren't subject to civil service recruitment standards, and every government entity is different. But at least in my experience (and this was what one would call a "large" city), the hiring process itself was mostly transparent.

Union protection matters, though there are obvious downsides to that as well. It's hard to get into civil service, but the other side of that is that it's hard to get rid of anyone, too. This is why I'm careful to note that public sector work comes with trade-offs. Benefits are generally better than the private sector, the pay is generally worse than the private sector, and job security is subject to both political stability of the government you work for and the extent that collective bargaining is still in force.

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Bluetea in Texas

23 months ago

Jake in Sycamore, Illinois said: One of the benefits of civil service is that they have to be fair about the process. You know what the details of the job really are because they have to post them. You know what the minimum reqs are because they have to disclose them.

This isn't to say that's it's necessarily any "easier" to find work in civil service, but a lot of the nastier practices you find in the private sector are actually illegal for most jobs in the public sector. Now, of course there are higher end political appointments that aren't subject to civil service recruitment standards, and every government entity is different. But at least in my experience (and this was what one would call a "large" city), the hiring process itself was mostly transparent.

Union protection matters, though there are obvious downsides to that as well. It's hard to get into civil service, but the other side of that is that it's hard to get rid of anyone, too. This is why I'm careful to note that public sector work comes with trade-offs. Benefits are generally better than the private sector, the pay is generally worse than the private sector, and job security is subject to both political stability of the government you work for and the extent that collective bargaining is still in force.

I agree. In the private sector, job stability is subject to last quarters' earnings and the psychological contract which once traded job security for employee loyalty has been forever breached.

Its a moot point now.

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Jeff in Denver, Colorado

23 months ago

guest in Berkeley, California said: Better check again.

The trend is for almost all positions to be filled with PhDs.

Even the support staff.

I worked for a university for 14 years, so I think that I know what I'm talking about.

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Jake in Sycamore, Illinois

23 months ago

guest in Berkeley, California said: Better check again.

The trend is for almost all positions to be filled with PhDs.

Even the support staff.

No, that's not true. I worked during my college years as a tutor with the academic support staff of a local college. My position didn't even require an associate's degree. I had two supervisors, each had a bachelor's degree - one in special ed, the other in computer engineering. The director of academic support, who is a deputy chancellor, had a master's degree in public administration. At my university, the graduate school employed undergrads for their support staff on work study. Testing center associates all had bachelor's degrees. Financial aid counselors require bachelor's degrees. The director of the center for volunteerism, who coordinates my university's community outreach, has a master's degree in community leadership. The vice chancellor for financial affairs has an MBA and is a licensed CPA.

PhD's are only required for teaching staff and some high level administrative positions like the provost and chancellor.

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Joe Gagill in Monticello, New York

23 months ago

I think allot of public sector jobs pay is almost even with the private sector now. (unless your talking private sector upper mgmet) Your right about the stress being lower. LOWER!

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Joe Gagill in Monticello, New York

23 months ago

In my state it always states qualifications: Bachelor

Preferred qualifications: Master's

Personally I don't think you get an interview with only the Bach unless you got some serious work exp to make up for it.

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Jake in Sycamore, Illinois

23 months ago

guest in Berkeley, California said: But those are the current employees.

Try getting a job in a university with only a BS degree. If you are lucky then maybe you can. Certainly feel free to try but a programming position that was just recently filled at a local university went to a PhD in math.

Even though the job requirement may only say a BS degree doesn't mean that a BS degree holder will get the job.

Well, my experience is within the past 5 years in a large city in the Midwest. I think you might be looking at this a bit narrow, however. Someone who studied applied math and stats looking into post-secondary institutions for employment isn't necessarily going into an IT-related field. That might be a first choice but there are other options. I think that's where some of the mixed signals here are... In the aggregate, you really do not need a PhD to work at a college. One semester, I work-studied in my university's help desk department as a level 1 call center dude, and my supervisor only had a BS in comp science. She was full-time civil service, maybe a few years older than I was. I don't even think the CIO of my university at the time had a PhD, but the new one hired this year does. But again - that's because he's also on the teaching staff, where the old CIO wasn't. It's just important to distinguish what specific fields we're talking about because the data most definitely does reflect the availability of support-level jobs at colleges and universities at the bachelor and master's level.

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Jake in Sycamore, Illinois

23 months ago

guest in Berkeley, California said: But the desired qualification are used to weed out applicants later in the hiring process.

You can't let that type of thinking allow you to self-select out of the process. Desired qualifications are used to help narrow the applicant pool. Often these positions come with job descriptions that were written in a very stratified, old-fashioned way. For example, the position I applied for in 2009 had "10-key experience" as a desired qualification. That was something that was listed on a generic job description that the city council's HR staff put on the title's description years and years ago and was totally irrelevant to the skills they were looking for at the time I was hired.

With public sector work, it's important to remember that you're dealing with a ridiculous bureaucracy and a lot of recent attrition, which means that some of the more nuanced descriptions on job postings might not be applicable. Minimum requirements get you into an exam slot. That's the ticket to getting onto an eligibility list. Your chances are exponentially better after that.

Finally - the public sector attrition is mostly over. Take a look at Calculated Risk for more details on this end. It's been a nasty 5 years but most of the layoffs and budget freezes are over.

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Jake in Sycamore, Illinois

23 months ago

guest in Berkeley, California said: Most of the layoffs and budget freezes are not over.

Most states have terrible budgets.

Obviouslly you have to apply to be considered for a job.

For math and sciences it is worse because universities are exempt from the H1B cap. MANY math and science jobs are held by foreign PhDs working for extremely low salaries.

"Employment growth in 2012 was mostly in line with expectations. A little good news - it appears we are near the end of the state and local government layoffs (see last graph), but the Federal government layoffs are ongoing.
Read more at www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/01/employment-report-comments-and-more.html#5KuLGKm6ZISrefeJ.99

Don't give up on state and local government.

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Jake in Sycamore, Illinois

23 months ago

guest in Berkeley, California said: A lot of government work is no longer civil service. Many states now contract out their work to private contractors.

I think you're confusing civil service with collective bargaining. Even contract work is subject to civil service rules (each state is different in that regard), but they aren't part of a represented union that might work in tandem with these independent contractors. Positions that are NOT subject to civil service, in this regard, are almost always explicitly listed as such (exempt from CS, etc.) at the time they're posted.

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Jake in Sycamore, Illinois

23 months ago

California is reporting a budget surplus this year, for the first time in years:

Illinois is a fiscal mess and is in FAR worse shape, financially, than California is right now.

It's almost unbelievable, really. We're so used to assuming that California is the banana republic of the US when things have largely changed over the past couple years.

I don't want to overstate things, but it's not 2010 anymore. I don't pretend that my own circumstances are perfectly representative of the rest of the country - things have improved. The data reflects that. We should keep our eyes open to the data as it comes in because it's going to help us all focus our attention more effectively at ending our stretches of unemployment.

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Bluetea in Texas

23 months ago

Jake in Sycamore, Illinois said: California is reporting a budget surplus this year, for the first time in years:

Illinois is a fiscal mess and is in FAR worse shape, financially, than California is right now.

It's almost unbelievable, really. We're so used to assuming that California is the banana republic of the US when things have largely changed over the past couple years.

I don't want to overstate things, but it's not 2010 anymore. I don't pretend that my own circumstances are perfectly representative of the rest of the country - things have improved. The data reflects that. We should keep our eyes open to the data as it comes in because it's going to help us all focus our attention more effectively at ending our stretches of unemployment.

I am originally from California. It was once the 8th largest economy in the world but now it trails Latvia. People have left and are still leaving in droves. My sister still lives there.

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Bluetea in Texas

23 months ago

guest in Berkeley, California said: California is projecting a budget surplus which is totally different than actually having one.

Companies are getting out of California along with the rich moving out of state and even the budget analyst of the state is saying that the growth assumptions used for the budget surplus calculation may be too optimistic.

When your employers move out of state then your tax revenues are not likely to be increasing as much as you projected with your tax increases.

I saw them leaving ten years ago. That when I rented a U-Haul myself. My sister sent me a paper as she still lives there. According to the article some 2,000 people leave every month.

Here in Texas, we have almost as many data centers as we have cows and many of them use to be in California.

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Jake in Sycamore, Illinois

23 months ago

Alright. Actually, that is picking on Catch-22 and I'm not exactly sure what your angle here even is. First of all (and most importantly), the job market was very different when people in their 20s today first started college. I started college in 2005. To say that someone starting college should be prescient enough to foresee a collapsing job market, particularly when Catch-22 has already stated that they majored in the STEMs (not English or Art History!)... there is no point in trying to rationalize this situation. This is not a "general observation". This is the way society functions. People earn their education, go on to their careers, then retire. That's the way the world works. Your observation is not "general", it is angst directed towards the younger generation that isn't even aimed at the right target because EVERYONE agrees that the world needs more scientists and applicable skills.

I think you need to take a step back and look at the core of your belief system, if all you're going to do here is trash the legitimate efforts of a new generation looking to earn their way through a productive career. If you read anything that Catch-22 said previously, you'd already know that s/he worked very hard through college, so this is just a needless rant that really has no appropriate place on this board.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

23 months ago

The OP started this thread by asking for ideas for finding entry level jobs. You have used it to troll other users.

Not only are you a troll, you are a piece of work.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

23 months ago

guest in Berkeley, California said: I think you need to step up to the plate and complain to a mod instead of giving a post that only encourages flaming.
Don't throw stones.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

23 months ago

Be careful what you ask for, you POS.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

23 months ago

There's a bed waiting for you at DSH-Napa. Use it.

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Penny in Espanola, New Mexico

15 months ago

Jake in Sycamore, Illinois said: I would also take a look at municipalities and state governments. Much of the attrition in the public sector labor market is over now; states and localities are beginning to hire again after nearly 5 years of reducing their labor force. Look at state and local health departments, who need people in lead abatement, public health, emergency response, food inspection, and disease control. Look at localities looking to hire HUD grant-funded positions, for neighborhood inspectors, weights & measures, etc.

These are civil service positions, so the application consideration process is both more fair AND longer. That's the trade-off; you'll get a pair of eyes on your application but it'll take them months to fill the openings. However, the public sector is a great place for recent grads to look, particularly if you have a 4-year education . Just prepare yourself to be patient through the process.

As long as they're not drowning in student loan debt which goes into default by the time they even hear from the government agency. Most levels of government in most states are allowed to check your credit as a condition of hire and will reject anyone drowning too much in student loan debt even if they SAY the job "requires" that college degree.

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Beth in Plano in Plano, Texas

15 months ago

Even STEMs folks are having a tuff time finding work.

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