Landing your first entry-level role can feel a bit like riding a rollercoaster. It’s both exhilarating yet completely nerve-wracking at the same time.
Whether it’s your first job in the tech industry or you’re making a career pivot to adapt to the future of work, that first entry-level job can play a major role in carving out your new career trajectory.
That mixed bag of feelings is completely justified. But your job search doesn’t have to feel like a complete black box—even in a rapidly changing job market.
Let’s unpack everything that you need to know as an aspiring tech professional, so you can land that first entry-level job with confidence.
of individuals are hoping to switch careers with their next job.
What is an Entry-Level Role?
An entry-level role in the tech industry is a job that is typically held by an employee with less than 1-2 years of experience in that field. However, they often require some level of specialized experience or education.
You may notice that some job descriptions and postings will also refer to entry-level positions as junior-level roles.
Entry-level roles are often geared toward recent grads or first-time job seekers. Most entry-level employees are expected to work under the guidance of an experienced senior to develop their technical skills as well as learn the ins and outs of the industry.
But entry-level roles aren’t just for employees who are entering the workforce for the first time. If you’re making a career shift and looking for your first role in a new career path, you’re in good company.
Once you land your first entry-level role, you’ll typically spend a few years at that level. Then as you gain experience and your skills progress, you’ll move into more senior positions—unlocking more responsibility (and higher salaries.)
Entry-Level Job Titles and Roles in the Tech Industry
The tech industry is home to some of the top jobs of the future—meaning the job possibilities are endless and continuing to evolve.
With the world of technology and AI rapidly evolving, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing more job seekers pivot to future-oriented roles. For example, we’re seeing a rise in roles related to blockchain technology and quantum computing.
But as you’re trying to break into the industry, you might find yourself struggling to decipher which of the thousands of open jobs are the right fit for you.
Here are some common job titles and roles that you might find as you browse through LinkedIn or your favorite hiring site.
- Junior Software Developer or Engineer: Power your favorite apps and products by writing code and testing for bugs with the support of senior developers.
- QA Analyst or QA Tester: From software to product, assist in testing and reporting bugs to prepare for launch.
- Entry-level Data Analyst: Dig into the data and turn complex queries into usable insights across a variety of industries. Have an interest in a specific area? You might consider a role as a Marketing Analyst or an Operations Analyst.
- Entry-level Cyber Analyst: Be the first line of defense when it comes to digital threats and vulnerabilities with the guidance of an experienced cybersecurity analyst.
- Entry-level Data Scientist: Solve complex business problems by supporting experienced data scientists with creating the tools and algorithms needed to extract and interpret the right data.
Depending on the position and the company you’re looking at, these roles will typically indicate that they’re entry-level or junior-level. Roles looking for more experienced talent will typically use identifiers like senior or manager.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Landing Your First Entry-Level Role
Regardless of where you want to work and which entry-level role you’re hoping to land, the journey to getting that first job offer is often very similar.
Here are a few steps and tips that will help guide you along the way.
1. Invest in Education in the Right Field
Before embarking on any new career path, you’ll want to get an understanding of the education that you’ll need to be successful.
And no, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go to college or university. In fact, more and more roles are eliminating higher education as part of the required qualifications and turning to skills-based hiring. Especially in newer tech roles where traditional education may not even be available.
Of course, some career paths may still benefit from more traditional education pathways. But the goal is to arm yourself with the skills that will help get you hired.
This can be done through formal education programs or digital certifications that can help you learn specific tools and techniques.
2. Get Some Hands-On Experience
They say that about 70% of our learning is done on the job. So what happens if you don’t have job-specific experience yet?
Hiring managers typically don’t expect you to have a ton of experience when applying to entry-level roles. But creating hands-on experiences can help your application stand out.
These don’t have to be full-time jobs, just relevant experiences that show off your skills. For example:
- Volunteer experience: Consider looking for unpaid opportunities with a local organization where you can use your newfound skills to make an impact.
- Internship experience: Internships are often a great stepping stone to landing an entry-level role. These positions are often short-term opportunities to put your skills to the test and learn from experienced professionals.
- Hands-on experience: With some of the education you’ve completed, you might have had the opportunity to work on sample projects or case studies that allow you to actually use the skills you’ve learned. While these are also educational projects, they double as experience that can showcase your qualifications.
- Previous job experience: Dig into your past work experience and highlight how that experience can tie into a fresh opportunity. Many of the new tech jobs are still in their early stages, which means most applicants likely don’t have direct on-the-job experience. But relevant hands-on experience from a previous role can still give you a leg up when applying for the role.
Whether your hands-on experiences are real-life opportunities or sample projects, you’ll want to tie them up nicely in a portfolio. A portfolio typically highlights your skills, outcomes, and accomplishments from initial concept to final results—presented together in a neat document (or website) that can be reviewed by interviewers and potential hiring managers.
3. Create a Resume that Highlights Your Skills and Accomplishments
Before you can start applying for roles, you need a strong resume that highlights your strengths and skills. The keyword here is strong.
Your resume shouldn’t just be a laundry list of all your experience and education. Rather, it should be carefully curated to demonstrate why you’d be a great fit for the role.
But let’s face it: resume writing can be uncomfortable. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to make it easier, but the X-Y-Z formula endorsed by Google is a good place to start.
The X-Y-Z formula is a tried and true approach for articulating your experience and accomplishments. Use this formula to guide the bullet points in your resume:
“Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y], by doing [Z].”
|Here’s an example of the X-Y-Z resume format in action.|
Instead of: “Analyzed marketing data for a product company”
Say:“Improved funnel conversion for a tech company by 13% by segmenting different user profiles”
4. Network with People and Institutions Responsible for Hiring Entry-Level Talent
Never underestimate the power of a network when looking for a new job. The people you know can play a huge role in helping you get noticed in the application pool.
Candidates who are referred are 3-4x more likely to get hired than those who don’t.
But building a network is more than just trying to secure a job.
Speaking with industry experts and leading organizations can arm you with the skills and interview tips to help you succeed, not only in your first job but throughout your career. This is especially valuable in helping to identify emerging career paths and growing job opportunities.
And mentors can offer tailored career advice that will make the transition into your first entry-level role a bit easier. This might include identifying skill gaps, offering advice, or simply providing support—so you avoid settling for a first job that you’re overqualified for, like 43% of first-time job seekers.
5. Apply for that Perfect Entry-Level Job
As you make your way through the process of getting to that first job. You’ll start getting a sense of the roles and responsibilities that excite you.
We’ll let you in on a secret: you often don’t need to meet all the listed qualifications to get hired. In an often cited stat, women in particular are predisposed to only apply for jobs if they feel like they’re 100% qualified.
So if you feel like you could be the perfect candidate, apply anyways.
Here’s the thing. The worst thing that could happen is that you’ll get a “Not now.” But the best-case scenario? You’ll land the job.
If you’re asking us, either outcome is better than spending the next few months wondering if you would have made the cut.
6. Interview, Interview, and Interview
As you start applying for jobs with that rockstar resume, the interview invitations will start to come in.
Interview best practices are often similar across the board. But different roles and companies often demand different interview questions and processes.
For example, as a junior software developer, you’ll likely go through at least one round of technical interviews. But if you’re interviewing for an entry-level data scientist role, your interviews may include a case study related to machine learning and data manipulation.
On average, you can expect anywhere from two to four interviews before landing a job offer.
Even if you don’t nail your first interview, consider it an opportunity to sharpen your skills and to practice getting comfortable with the interview process.
Tip: Send a short thank you note after every interview. It doesn’t need to be long, simply thank the interviewer for their time and reiterate your interest in the role. It’s a small gesture that can help you stand out from the crowd.
7. Sign on the Dotted Line
It might not happen right away. But we promise it’ll happen. Before you know it, you’ll get the call (or the email) that you’ve officially been extended a job offer.
But before you sign on the dotted line, don’t forget to take the time to review your job responsibilities and compensation package to make sure you’re satisfied with the terms. A little salary negotiation also never hurts.
Once you sign on the dotted lines, pop your celebratory beverage of choice, because you’ve officially landed your first job in your new career path.
Landing Your First Job in the Tech Industry
Now that you know what to expect in your tech-industry job search, it’s time to go after the entry-level job of your dreams.
We know that your first job can feel a bit like stepping into the unknown. But look at it this way: your first job is just the beginning of the exciting tech career ahead of you.
The best part? There are thousands of top companies with different entry-level roles waiting to hear from you.
So hit “Apply” on that entry-level job and you’ll be launching your career in no time.