What Is an Entry-Level Job?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 23, 2021

Published December 12, 2019

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.

If you’re entering the workforce for the first time, you’ll likely need to search for entry-level jobs. Entry-level positions could require varying amounts of education and experience, depending on the field and company. Learning more about what entry-level jobs are can help you find and apply for jobs that fit your qualifications. In this article, we will define entry level, describe the benefits of entry-level jobs and explain how to apply to the right one.

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What does entry level mean?

Entry level is a type of job that typically requires minimal education, training and experience. Entry-level jobs are available in every industry. Some of them may require higher academic qualifications, while others might involve specialized skills, knowledge or techniques. In some cases, entry-level employees participate in on-the-job training to gain valuable industry knowledge and experience.

Entry-level jobs are available as both full- or part-time roles. High school or college students may choose to work a part-time, entry-level job while completing school to gain experience.

Individuals who apply for entry-level positions are often recent high school or college graduates. However, some professionals who switch careers may search for entry-level jobs in a new field to begin developing different industry abilities. Jobs targeted at college graduates usually offer a higher salary but they’re more likely to require specific knowledge and skills. Most of them are full-time permanent positions.

Related: How To Change Careers

How to find the right entry-level job

If you have minimal or no work experience, you can expect to have fewer options available. Nevertheless, you’ll still be able to find your ideal job if you know how to conduct your job search properly. Follow these tips to look for the right entry-level job:

  1. Determine your current abilities.

  2. Learn how to tailor your job search.

  3. Review the job description.

  4. Consider jobs outside your current qualifications.

1. Determine your current skills, strengths and abilities

Before you start searching for entry-level opportunities, you should learn more about which jobs match your qualifications. Knowing your strengths, weaknesses, interests and traits can help you narrow your search process.

Create a list of your current skills, experience, education and interests to see how you fit in the entry-level job market. Consider your extracurricular activities, such as volunteer experience and internships, as experience if you don’t have a work history. If you were a member of a club or team, you may be able to list valuable transferable skills, like teamwork and communication, to your list. 

Related: Best Jobs for College Students

2. Learn how to tailor your job search

Different industries view entry-level in several ways. For example, an entry-level physician needs many years of education and experience, while an entry-level customer service representative may only need a high school diploma.

If you’re seeking an entry-level position online, it can be helpful to use keywords such as “entry-level,” “junior,” “associate” and “recent graduates” in your search. Many companies use similar keywords in job postings to signify roles that need little experience and education. 

If you’re searching for a specific position, you can look on specialty job boards to narrow your search further. Specialty job boards only post jobs in specific industries, so you can easily search for roles in your field of interest. 

Alternatively, you can try to find an entry-level job in your area by contacting the career center in your college. Many local employers post jobs with local colleges and universities to encourage recent or future graduates to apply. Some colleges host career fairs where you have the opportunity to meet several local employers and submit your resume in person. 

If you find a company you’re interested in working with, you can check their website for open positions. You can also send an informational email to the human resources department or recruiter if you don’t see an entry-level role that fits your qualifications. An informational email states your interest in working for the business and could ask to meet with a representative to learn more about the company. 

Related: Guide: How To Get a Job After College

3. Review the job description

After you have performed a job search, you’ll need to review the role descriptions to determine whether the company’s entry-level requirements match your qualifications. Most job descriptions have a “requirements” section in which they’ll list the level of experience and education needed.

The section will usually also have a list of hard and soft skills that candidates should possess to excel in the position. Some job descriptions list the necessary qualifications in paragraph form, so it’s important to read the entire posting to determine if you have the right amount of education and experience. 

Before you apply, make sure you meet the minimum requirements in order for a hiring manager to consider you for the role. When applying for entry-level positions, try to tailor your resume based on the job description. Look for specific keywords in the description that you can highlight on your resume. For example, if the posting specifically requests applicants with good collaboration skills, list experiences in which you worked with a team to achieve a goal. 

Read more: 15 Entry-Level Jobs That Pay Well

4. Consider jobs outside your current qualifications.

It’s becoming more common for individuals to start their careers with jobs unrelated to their education or work history. There may be entry-level positions in your desired industry with the opportunity for advancement.

For example, if you’re interested in marketing, you could obtain an entry-level coordinator role with a marketing firm and gain enough experience to become an analyst, manager or associate. You can expand your job search to include positions that provide valuable training to begin your career path.

Related: Guide: Using Indeed.com Job Search

Tips for excelling in an entry-level job

Even if you have high career ambitions, you’ll assume an entry-level position when you enter the workforce. While many entry-level jobs have a low salary, you can enjoy a number of different benefits, including:

  • Accepting learning opportunities

  • Exploring all career paths

  • Taking initiative

Accept learning opportunities

As a beginner in your field, you should take your entry-level job as an opportunity to learn. This opportunity is valuable as it enables you to meet and learn from mid- and upper-level professionals with many years of experience. By observing these professionals, you’ll have a better understanding of the do’s and don’ts in your company and industry. You can ask them questions and gain knowledge and skills that can be useful in your career.

While working in an entry-level role, it can be helpful to network with fellow professionals in your field. Networking allows you to learn more about how others in the same position work in different companies or how current team members excel in their roles. When you network, you can also build relationships that can help you excel in your career. 

Explore all career paths

As an entry-level employee, you’ll have the time to explore other opportunities in your industry. Many entry-level roles lead to different career paths, so it’s important to learn more about every aspect of your field to make an informed decision. You can ask to shadow other departments in your company to acquire information on a variety of roles and functions. Once you begin your path toward a certain career, you’ll develop a specific skill set relevant to that path. 

A mentor can serve as a guide as you explore different careers. In a mentorship, an experienced professional in your field can offer advice and help you make connections with prominent members of your field. A successful mentor will help you build a career path that can navigate you from an entry-level position to a higher role. Mentors can be employees in your current company, former managers from a part-time role or previous teachers or professors.

Take initiative

As an entry-level employee, you have the opportunity to make a good impression on your colleagues or managers from the beginning. By taking initiative and demonstrating a positive attitude, your manager may be more likely to remember you when a promotion opportunity arises.

To show you are dedicated to your role and the company, ask questions when you need clarification and take notes so you can recall responses when needed. You can ask for additional duties from your manager or coworkers if you finish your work to show you’re a valuable team member. Request feedback from your supervisor about your work to determine if there are areas you can improve in order to excel in your current role and as you progress in your career.

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