ASK FRASER: How do I find entry-level jobs I am qualified for?

by Fraser Traverse

I just graduated from college and even the so-called “entry level” jobs require 1-2 years experience. How do I find jobs I am qualified for? - Solomon C.

Reading job descriptions for your first job out of college can be daunting, but rest assured that employers looking for entry-level candidates don’t expect resumes packed with full-time professional experience. 

I always recommend internships, part-time jobs, and the like for college students. Those can take away some of the stress of thinking you have “no experience.” But thinking carefully about what you did in school can definitely make up for a thin resume. Be creative and positive about what you accomplished — earning a college degree takes a lot of skills that ARE transferrable to the working world!

Here are three skills you probably have and advice on how to showcase them:

1. Writing Skills and Social Media Savvy. Surely you wrote a few papers in college and even if that might not be your cup of tea, shorter forms of writing in the form of memos, brief analyses, and posts for social media will be needed in your first job. Duties often include:

- Draft and edit routine communications with Capitol Hill and federal agencies.
- Take meeting notes and prepare formal or informal minutes as appropriate.
- Draft cover memos for position statements.
- Creation and distribution of promotional materials and resource videos.
- Track and report on legislative, regulations and other government actions.

Resume Advice: Include “Research and Analysis” or “Copywriting” as core competencies, depending on the type of writing you feel well qualified for. In your paid-for or volunteer experiences, promote any published work, including any social media you managed, or any projects in which you did in-depth research.


2. Administrative Support. It’s rare to find a college student who didn’t participate in multiple clubs and activities at school. So it’s very likely that you helped plan events and parties, promoted your group or cause on campus, and coordinated speakers and members. These are all skills that look like this in a job description:

- Coordinate scheduling, location, and the distribution of relevant materials and room or A/V set-up for select meetings. 
- Create and maintain relevant databases and committee rosters.
- Schedule meetings with Hill and Government staff.
- Respond to information requests.

Resume Advice: Include words like “Event Management,” “Committee Organization,” and/or “Networking” in your core competencies. Then, list your club and volunteer activities as part of your experience in a section separate from any jobs you were paid for. If you have space (i.e., your resume should not exceed one page), flesh out some of your duties. If you don’t have space, be sure to articulate more specifically what you did if you get a chance to interview.


3. Multitasking. How many classes did you take each semester and how many exams and papers did you have due at the end of each term? Sounds like you have some pretty good experience meeting job duties often described as:

- Able to multitask high priority projects on tight deadlines.
- Exceptional organizational skills and attention to detail with proven ability to manage multiple projects and deadlines simultaneously.

Resume Advice: List your skills in bulleted form at the top of your resume and include the word “Multitasking” as well as any other keywords from the job description you can safely say you do well. Label this leading section “Core Competencies.” This shows employers in the first ten seconds of reading that you are qualified for the job, and encourages them to explore you further.