the ultimate guide to entry-level job applications

 

Written by Kelly Kannar

I don't know exactly how many Year 12 students graduated in QLD last week. If last years' figure is anything to go by, the number is around 50,000. In any case, for these graduates, school is out forever which means the job market will now welcome a new batch of fresh-faced school leavers ready to start their next chapter. Of course, many Year 12 graduates will go on to further study, but others will decide they want to pursue full-time work. 

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 At majer, we LOVE being entrusted to recruit entry-level candidates for our clients - it's quite a process and the competition is fierce! When recruiting for entry-level roles, there is usually a lot more screening and interviewing than with other roles because the process often has nothing to do with experience (although in many cases, proven/stable experience in a casual retail or hospitality role will be highly regarded), it will be based largely on attitude, presentation and motive.

Of course, you don't have to be a recent graduate to be an entry-level candidate - perhaps you've been studying for a year or two but have decided it's not for you, or perhaps you've been working in a different sector and want something new. No matter what your situation, if the goal is to obtain an entry level admin role in 2018, these tips are for you!

attitude:

A positive attitude is everything. In fact, most candidates I know who have been successful in entry-level roles present with a wonderful mix of positivity, humility and eagerness. So, if nonchalance or entitlement has been your usual style, leave it at the school gate. You need to show your potential new employer that you are ready to listen and learn and that you are motivated to do a great job at all levels - even emptying the office dishwasher or restocking the kitchen cupboards. Your interviewer will likely explore your level of willingness to do such tasks in the interview - they will know if you're faking it!!

presentation:

A neat and tidy presentation will go a long way. If you're interviewing for a role in a corporate office, lean towards the conservative side with regard to dress and makeup. If you're going through an agency, ask for their advice on dress code for the interview - your recruiter can help you prep. 

Of course, presentation is much broader than just physical appearance. It covers your manner and body language as well. Are you coming across as warm, polite, attentive? Practice your interview entry and exit with someone at home. Stand and greet your interviewer with a firm, confident handshake, eye contact and a smile. On the way out, thank them for their time and shake their hand again before leaving.

Think about how you are presenting at each interaction during the process. We often find we are calling or emailing our candidates frequently throughout the recruitment process so it's important to think about these things also: How do you answer your phone? Do you have a professional sounding voicemail? If not, change it immediately! Are you efficient with email & returning phone calls? You need to be.  If you are emailing, check spelling, punctuation etc and refrain from using ‘text language’.

motive:

This is HUGE. I have seen this make or break the process for many candidates. Is this role what you want? And, WHY is this role what you want? Why are you the right person for the role? The company is likely going to put a lot of effort into training you so assure them that you will commit.

In today's market for this level of role, two years is a reasonable ask in terms of commitment - although many companies will consider that an absolute minimum. There is no harm in taking time to figure out what you really want to do and if you can demonstrate that in the interview, it will be highly regarded. If your interviewer senses that you are simply going to use this position as a stop gap, you will be unsuccessful.

So, practice your answers to these two questions:

Why do you want to work for us?

Why should we hire you over everyone else?

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finally...

Finding the right role can take time. So, my final piece of advice would be to not rest on your laurels - you don't want to have a massive gap on your resume. Find relevant things to keep busy with while you job search. Volunteer or seek out work experience opportunities - you never know where it could lead. Put any relevant experience on your resume and ask your supervisor to be a reference. This is a great way to show that you are a motivated, enthusiastic candidate. 

Gaining your first full-time role is such a big milestone and it's so important to get it right. For information on how to target your job search, have a read of our blog post on Job Application Strategies to get started!