What Employers Want in an Entry-Level Candidate


Employers tend to be more cautious when hiring for entry-level positions. Candidates typically have little work experience and therefore are more of a risk. In place of work history, hiring managers look for other accomplishments to prove a potential hire’s ability to succeed in the workplace. Take the following actions to prepare yourself for an entry-level job search.

1. Volunteer Work Ideally, you’ll find a regular volunteer activity that you can continue throughout your college career. Examples include tutoring, working at an animal shelter, and volunteering at a food bank. In addition, you should also try to participate other events such as fund raisers that occur less frequently.

2. Leadership Roles Interviewers frequently ask about leadership experience. Serving as a club officer or in another leadership capacity will prepare you for interviews and will set you apart from other candidates. Leadership can be demonstrated in many ways, whether you organize a fundraiser for your favorite charity or step up as the leader of a group project.

3. Teamwork Almost all jobs today involve teamwork. Job interviewers will likely ask you if you work well in teams, and will want proof that you have handled yourself well in a group situation. Think back to group projects and be able to demonstrate your success working with different personalities.

4. Internships/Job Shadowing Interviewers want to know that you are familiar with the industry or type of job you are applying for. As a recent graduate, you will set yourself apart if you have some experience already. If you are unable to find an internship, ask someone in your chosen profession if you can shadow them to get a feel for the job and to see if it is something you would enjoy.

One of my questions for my last interviewer was what characteristics her ideal candidate would have. She told me that the ideal candidate would be well-rounded and would be able to balance several responsibilities at one time. Participating in student organizations, part-time jobs, and volunteer work will demonstrate your ability to handle many responsibilities and will show potential employers of your diverse skills.

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4 thoughts on “What Employers Want in an Entry-Level Candidate”

  1. The strange thing with me is that I have all of those attributes listed on my resume, but I never seem to get any interviews. I have Clubs & Organizations that I've held key positions in, great internship experience with a local news station in their marketing dept, Volunteer activities, and even WONDERFUL references from all my previous employers. When I do get a interview people are usually impressed with my experience, but that might be one interview out of 60 attempts. It's very frustrating to not get any feedback or interviews when you put alot of effort into applying…and It's not like I'm just applying to random positions…They are positions that I have carefully reviewed and feel that I am capable of or have experience in.

  2. Marketing is a pretty competitive industry, particularly with the economic problems we’re experiencing right now. Unfortunately, marketing is one of the first things to go when companies try to cut expenses. You might want to consider temp work (http://www.net-temps.com/) while you look for a full-time position.

  3. I’m having a tough time getting interviews as well. I’m looking at staffing agencies now. Times are tough.

  4. Very few jobs are safe right now. Even experienced people are having a tough time finding positions. Also, location plays a big part in whether you will find a job in your chosen field. Urban areas will offer the most openings (http://www.indeed.com/jobtrends.jsp). I live in a fairly small town and there are very few jobs here except for nursing.

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