The Best College Graduate Jobs That Don't Require Experience
By: Ashley Artrip
A college degree doesn’t mean what it once did. Today, school enrollment and educational attainment are at an all-time high, and since most companies require bachelor’s degrees, a diploma has become little more than just a box to check, rather than a candidate differentiator. Meanwhile, debt levels are also rising: in the class of 2018, 69% of college students took out student loans, and graduated with an average of $29,800 in student debt. Collectively, Americans owe $1.56T in student loan debt. This has created a crisis for many recent graduates: with crushing student debt and very little experience (after all, you were busy getting A’s for the past four years, not building a resume!), finding a well-paying college graduate job in a field of interest can be extremely difficult.
However, there are numerous fields that do not require a laundry list of internships and recommendations for an entry-level position. Many of these industries instead look to ‘soft’ factors such as motivation and drive, diversity, communication skills, and perseverance to make hiring decisions. We’ve put together a list of great college graduate jobs and have also outlined what hiring managers look for when filling these positions:
Recruiting is one of the best college graduate jobs because it builds a portfolio of transferable skills, exposure to numerous industries, and also does not require direct experience. For those of you have only heard of recruiting in the context of sports, the job typically consists of identifying job candidates, reaching out to them, and scheduling interviews between the candidates and the client.
Instead of experience, recruiting managers look for qualities such as being deadline driven, adaptable to a fast-paced work environment, and having effective time management skills. Additionally, recruiting managers typically look for employees who have strong written and oral communication skills. Often, candidates will be tested to see if they can accurately interpret a client’s request (meaning, the qualifications the client is looking for in a candidate), and translate that request into a search.
Recent college graduates interested in pursuing a recruiting job should emphasize their tenacity, drive, perseverance, and strong communication skills. Think about tangential experiences you’ve had that could illustrate these skills (playing a team sport, recruiting for a sorority/fraternity, volunteering, etc.) and then draw from this connection in your cover letter and interview.
2. Startup and Enterprise Sales (SDR and BDR positions)
Sales and recruiting are actually quite similar in terms of the skill sets needed to succeed. Many former athletes, business majors, and people with entrepreneurial spirits thrive in sales positions (though these are by no means the only background profiles that make for excellent sales representatives). Like recruiting, sales managers will hire entry-level candidates who have little-to-no experience, but they look for a certain set of ‘soft’ skills, including tenacity, communication skills, and creativity.
Sales has a clearer path to promotion than recruiting does, which makes it an appealing option for recent college graduates who want to launch a career, not just get a job. Additionally, sales is a metrics-based field: all sales representatives are given targets to hit, and these targets determine their bonuses, commissions, and promotions. Recent college graduates who are motivated by meritocracies with clear, numbers-based goals for unlimited earning potential may find sales positions highly appealing.
One avenue to entry for enterprise/startup sales is applying to a sales training program — sometimes referred to as a ‘bootcamp’. These programs typically last several months, and give students a comprehensive and hands-on crash course in how to be a salesperson. Academies such as SV Academy do not charge tuition or require any sort of income share agreement, and their average graduate lands a starting salary package of $78,000. Applying to a program like this is ideal for recent graduates who are motivated and enjoy working in fast-paced environments, but don’t have the relevant experience to land a great salaried job right out of college. When applying, make sure to emphasize the soft skills listed above that typically indicate an aptitude for sales.
Like sales, coding is a meritocracy: employers care more about what you can do rather than where you went to school, or even if you went to school. This makes coding a great option for recent college graduates who don’t have applicable job experience.
Like the sales academy described above, there are numerous online and in-person coding bootcamps that teach the basics of coding and offer guaranteed salaried job placement upon graduation. Most coding bootcamps follow one of two business models: either the program takes a small percentage of your first year salary if you make over a certain amount (known as income share), or the program partners with companies that pay for access to the top talent that the program produces (known as an employer-sponsored model). In choosing a program, make sure to look at these factors:
- What is the average starting salary for graduates?
- Does the program guarantee job placement for graduates?
- How many hours per week does the program require, and how long does it last?
For recent graduates who have other time commitments that preclude them from entering a full-time program, an online, part-time program may be the best option. Keep in mind, though, that because the business model for bootcamps relies on them producing graduates who are the cream of the crop, the programs tend to very rigorous.
4. Startup Marketing
Marketing is one of the more accessible areas of business to break into because there aren’t many formal routes to launching a marketing career other than going to business school (and most marketers don’t). Like sales and recruiting, one of the most important soft skills for marketers to have is written and oral communication. Additionally, marketers tend to do a fair amount of writing, but also need strong analytical skills for important tasks such as running campaigns, doing A/B testing with different messaging strategies, and analyzing quantitative results.
Because of this, marketing managers typically look for soft skills that include writing/journalistic ability (were you on your school paper? Did you publish an essay? Make sure to showcase any written accomplishments!) and analytical comprehension (if you took a stats class, definitely mention that). It’s important to know that you will be held to metrics even though marketing is a slightly more ‘creative’ field than other areas of business.
The best route to entry for marketing is through a startup internship. Startups will often hire marketing interns who have no formal marketing experience but excel in the areas described above. An internship will typically last three months, and almost always leads to a full-time job — either with the same company or with another startup. The startup ecosystem tends to be very insular, and you will find that once you have a great recommendation from one startup internship, your next job will be significantly easier to land.
Leverage Your Soft Skills to Land a Full-Time Job Post-Graduation
Keep in mind that the same soft skills that helped you excel in college can still apply in the job market. Whether it’s being an excellent writer, a club leader, a motivated athlete, or a math major, the skills that led to your previous successes mean something to employers. Focus on showcasing these talents and their applicability to whatever job you end up pursuing, and you will find that landing your first college graduate job isn’t such a daunting proposition.
Elaina Ransford contributed to this article