Didn’t it used to seem like you ought to be able to land an entry-level job right out of school with a polished resume and a determined attitude to work your way up? That’s not so much the case anymore according to a new report called “The Great Skills Divide” from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

Their analyses of Canadian job descriptions posted on Workopolis and other sites found that employers posting entry-level positions asked candidates to have up to two years of work experience. And the majority of the candidates who actually get hired for ‘entry-level’ jobs have more – in some cases much more experience than that.

According to the job postings for entry-level positions, less than one quarter of the employers would consider hiring candidates who have no work experience at all.

The researchers then conducted a follow-up survey of the employers about the results of their job postings. They found that 84% of employers had successfully hired someone for the role they had advertised. A majority (59%) of the candidates hired had three or more years of previous work experience – and one quarter of them had more than five years.

A lack of work experience in the candidates who applied was given as the reason for not hiring by half of the employers who did not manage to fill their jobs.

Looking at the content of Canadian job postings, our friends at Wanted Analytics have ranked the most commonly advertised job titles by years of experience required. So here are the roles that are posted for candidates having little to no previous work history to start.

The most commonly advertised job titles for 0-2 years of work experience

Truck Driver and Cook are two of the most posted job titles in online Canadian job ads this year.

“Live-in Caregiver” is the one of the most commonly advertised job titles in Canada, referring both to live-in care for children as well as for adults with special needs. As there are various levels of specialization and skills required for different groups being cared for, this job title appears in the ‘most common’ list for various years of experience.

Other job titles that are commonly posted with no experience necessary but also have a range of skill levels, and so are also frequently advertised for candidates with various levels of experience include Administrative Assistant, Cook, Sales Representative, and Project Manager.

The keys to landing a job in an industry where you have no experience:

    Demonstrate your skills and accomplishments
    Take a look at everything you’ve done so far, on the job, at school and in your personal life. List the accomplishments that you have made and see if you can find a way to tailor them to the industry that you’re targeting.

    Think about your skills that can apply across industries, such as project management, communication, research, and relationship-building. Are you a skilled and effective writer or public speaker? Have you led a successful team or taken a project from plan to fruition? Can you manage a budget or schedule multiple tasks for a team of people? All of these skills and experiences can be applicable across industries.

    Get some more experience
    If you really don’t have enough skills and accomplishments to land an interview, then you’re going to have to go out and get some. Look for internship opportunities, volunteer work or short term contacts where you can pitch in on complex projects, develop your skills (especially the transferable ones mentioned above) and accomplish demonstrable success. You can also use these opportunities to increase your personal network.

    Show passion
    Do whatever you can to land an interview. When it comes, dress professionally and make the right impression. Use this occasion to demonstrate your passion for the industry, the company and the role. A Workopolis survey of Canadian hiring managers found the most popular tipping factor when it came down to choosing one equally qualified candidate over another was ‘enthusiasm for the role.’ People like to hire those who are motivated to work for them rather that someone who’s just looking for a job. Be upbeat, positive and as charming as possible. People also want to hire someone whose company they enjoy, since once they hire you, you become a part of their daily life.

    Take any job, and do it well
    If you’re offered any role at all – even one that is not what you were hoping for – take it. It’s easier to prove your value and work your way up from the inside. Come in early, stay late. Take any opportunity to work on projects for other departments so that you can network internally and learn as much as possible about the company. Hard work, enthusiasm and a positive attitude go a long way.

See also: The top twenty entry-level jobs that are hiring right now (and what they pay)


Peter Harris

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