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 Use Entry Level to Jump Start Your Career

By Joe Stein

It is human nature to not want to start at the beginning of anything.  The further along you start, the quicker you get to your destination…correct?  Well, that is not always the case when it comes to your job search and your career.  Sometimes starting at the beginning (an entry-level position) is exactly the right move to make in your career.

It is certainly understandable for many to not start at the entry-level due to the level you are currently at in your career, or the demand for your skills in the labor market.  There is, however, a large portion of the workforce that should be looking at entry-level positions.  If you are a recent High School or College Graduate (yes…college graduates should be open to entry-level), changing careers, or re-entering the workforce, an entry-level job should be a viable possibility to consider.

So, depending on your situation, there are a number of reasons why entry-level is up for serious discussion.  Let’s now review some of those reasons below:

• Entry-Level = Growth - Often there is a reason for these entry-level openings.  As the prospective employer grows, they create the need for new positions, or (in a related scenario) its expansion caused those in the lower roles to be promoted, and therefore leaving their positions vacant.  Either way, you win by joining a growing company.  Go into the organization with the mindset that if you work hard, succeed, and impress, you will be placed on the fast-track for promotion (like others have been).  You may just find yourself passing by your peer who started at a higher-level but with a different company that is not growing.  A key for this category is to find out why the position is open.  If you hear expansion or growth, you know you may have hit the proverbial “gold mine”.

• Build Your Resume – If you are just starting out in your career, you probably only have some retail/service jobs and perhaps an internship or two on your Resume.  You can wait around for the perfect position at the level you crave, or you can roll up your sleeves and start building your Resume with real-world experience.  As a side benefit, Hiring Managers like to see candidates that have kept busy (even at entry-level work) rather than accept unemployment.

• Gain Experience – An entry-level position typically causes you to learn a lot of different aspects of work and gain a breadth of experience.  Not only are you learning valuable tools such as professional maturity, time management, and teamwork, but you typically get exposed to quite a bit in a “jack of all trades” role.

• Builds Character – If you are starting your career, accepting an entry-level position can be a real character builder.  You will better understand the challenges of the floor employee and gain a full respect for how important they are to an organization.  In an entry-level position, you may also be required to perform tasks that are “less glamorous” than you desire.  You not only learn to do whatever it takes to be successful, but you will have great stories to tell when you reach the pinnace of success!

• Expands Your Network – A key to continuing to expand your career is to build a professional network that will provide you with professional advice and job leads.  This is difficult to establish if you are sitting on the sidelines waiting for a position to drop into your lap.  Joining a company gives you exposure to key contacts with that company and also gives you the potential to meet others through client contact and/or professional organizations.

• Brings Money In – Unless you have a money tree in the backyard (or parents with open wallets), you need money to come in.  Even if the compensation is not what you desire due to your student loans, etc., some is better than none.  Besides, conducting a job search is not inexpensive due to professional attire, mobile phone, internet, transportation, etc. which are generally a given when seeking a position.

Very rarely does anyone in a Management role start in that level of a position.  Typically, those individuals worked their way up in an organization into that type of role.  Starting in an entry-level position can be a great way to get your career started and be on your way to a successful professional or management role.  It is a much better strategy than waiting for this great position to miraculously come to you.

As always, best of luck in your job search!