How To Land An Entry Level Job

My fiancé is trying to find a meaningful career. He has worked for the past 10+ years, mostly in various delis/pizzerias/restaurants, etc. He has no college degree. He has been applying online to various jobs where no degree is necessary and he can start entry level, such as UPS and Geico. However the online applications all require you to fill out a detailed job history section. This makes it very hard since he just lists the various delis with the same job description over the years. We made up a “functional resume” to submit which lists his skills and just the list of employers and dates, but once he has to fill out the mandatory job history section with many different employers doing basically the same job, I really feel like his chances get slim. If we could just submit a resume and cover letter highlighting his interpersonal and customer service skills without the long job history, he might have a better shot.

Do you have any advice on searching and/or applying for a non-degree job? Can we just send an email with a resume somewhere? Or apply in person? He is very personable, willing to work and willing to learn, but we just need help getting someone to consider him!

Thank you,
Wife-To-Be in Long Island

Long Island


Dear Wife-To-Be,
As you have observed, it is highly competitive to land an entry level job with a well-known company. Thousands of applicants vie for the same openings, which creates poor odds if you are just one job seeker among many. To create the best chance for success, I recommend these job search strategies:

How To Land An Entry Level Job: Research

Since you mentioned UPS, let’s use them as a first example. When I Googled “how to land a job at UPS,” I learned several things: (1) Most employees at UPS start out as part-time workers and through seniority, work their way to full-time status, (2) Many UPS employees worked in a UPS warehouse before landing a position as a driver, (3) Almost everyone hired at UPS is referred by someone who already works there, and (4) UPS is increasingly using social media to give job seekers advice about job openings with the company. Their Facebook and Twitter account names are both UPSjobs.

How To Land An Entry Level Job: Connect

When hiring managers have many more applicants than they have openings, they focus first on the applicants who are recommended by existing employees. This means you want to meet people who already have a connection with UPS. Besides befriending the UPS delivery person who handles your neighborhood, ask everyone you know if they know anyone who works at UPS. Your fiancé will more easily be able to impress UPS with his customer service and interpersonal skills if he can have the conversation in person rather than trying to convey these skills on a job application. Similarly, Geico’s Careers page says that if you apply in person, you may be given the opportunity to interview with a recruiter right then.

Also, the more people you know, the more likely one of them will recommend you for a job. Anyone who is job hunting should get involved with sports, hobbies, book clubs, neighborhood groups, religious or spiritual activities, business networking, etc. For a Calendar of Events for Long Island, Long Island Business News is good source. Anything that brings him into contact with other people increases the opportunities to become acquainted with new friends who can recommend him for the type of employment openings he seeks. You know the old saying, “It isn’t what you know…it is who you know?” There is truth in this saying, but the people who know you must be sufficiently confident of your skills and abilities that they will stake their reputation on recommending you.

How To Land An Entry Level Job: Be Creative With Job Applications

Just because an application asks for tons of detail about your job history, that doesn’t mean you have to fill in every blank in ways that put your history in a poor light. Consider grouping job experiences, like this:

Job Title: Customer Service Representative
Dates: 01/2000 – 12/2010
Company: Company 1, Company 2, Company 3
Responsibilities:: Achieved a high level of customer service satisfaction by responding to inquiries, concerns and requests about products and services.
Manager: Choose one who will recommend you highly and provide contact information. Be sure to ask this person for permission to recommend you and remind them which of your skills and accomplishments to describe if he/she is called.

How To Land An Entry Level Job: Get Support

Most people who are job hunting could use some polishing in their job search and interviewing skills. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. The New York State Department of Labor is one resource for training. There are also lots of NYC Meetups that bring in guest speakers to teach members how to find work and advance their careers.

I hope this helps!

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