Entry level positions in today's economyAs a result of a transitioning job market, many recent college graduates are looking for entry-level positions in industries outside of their chosen fields. Although they may be qualified for an entry-level position, they may not have any formal coaching or understanding of what the company is looking for since the business is outside of their scope of expertise.

For many companies, the hiring process is done at least in part by their Human Resources personnel. Other times, which is often the case in smaller start-up companies, the hiring may be done directly by the CEO or the president. At any rate, the applicant must be prepared for the hiring process – from the submission of their resumé all the way through to the offering of the position. There are some key factors that companies look for when hiring entry-level employees many of which do not depend on the applicant’s experience in that field. Likewise, there are some important steps that an applicant can take to increase their chances of being considered for a position.

Known as the “Czarina of HR,” CEO of Talent Think Innovations Janine Truitt said that companies today are seeking candidates who are versatile. “Companies are looking for entry-level professionals that are flexible, adaptable and that will do the job they need them to do,” says Truitt.

For the majority of college graduates, a career job is the primary focus. For this reason, many graduates who take entry-level jobs are looking to secure a career with a company that has room for growth. This desire, Truitt explains, is something that should be expressed tactfully during the interviewing process. “If you are a candidate who is looking for more than what the opportunity can offer, you have a challenge in knowing how to channel that want appropriately during the interview process,” says Truitt.

Forbes magazine published an article in March of 2012 that stated that 60% of college graduates cannot find a full-time job in their chosen profession. “With such a high level of college graduates working in industries outside of their scope of expertise, the value of a degree in today’s workforce is constantly being questioned. However, a degree will still help an applicant land a job, which typically begins with a look at the candidate’s resumé.

Michelle Benjamin is the CEO and founder of Benjamin Enterprises, a company that provides workforce solutions for major corporations. She believes that an education can still contribute to a person’s success when seeking employment. “Definitely if all things are equal between candidates, the one with the higher level of education and more industry-specific education will be the one that will get in the door,” says Benjamin.

Benjamin communicated that there are some attributes that interviewers look for in entry-level candidates some of which includes the presence of “a teachable spirit.” For example, does the person have a willingness to learn and take initiative? Is the person organized and can he or she self-manage? Benjamin said that employers also want people who are creative and have good leadership and problem-solving skills.

Although the industry may not be one that the candidate is extremely knowledgeable about, the better candidate will be the one who has done the research and familiarized themselves with the job. This also means that it is important to find out the values and standards of the company that the candidate is seeking to secure a position with. This should also be reflected in the way that the interviewee dresses and speaks in the interview. “Within three seconds, you have already made an impression on me. I’ve come away with a predetermination of what the expectation would be. Whether that’s right or wrong, it is reality and so the candidate should be aware of that,” says Benjamin.

Benjamin also stressed vocal clarity as a major factor in the decision that an interviewer makes. “It is not just what you say but how you say it. Do you have vocal clarity when you’re speaking? Within five seconds, an auditory impact has been made. So either the interviewer keeps listening or they have tuned out due to the way that you speak,” says Benjamin.

In addition, she noted that although posture, poise and maturity may seem minor in the hiring process, they are, in fact, characteristics that are noticed by hiring managers.  

Entry-level job seekers can land a position with a company on their radar even if they do not have a great amount of experience in the field. More often than not, employers are looking for someone who is professional and has a willingness to learn. While some things can be taught, others cannot.