Job Searching

Tips to Get Your First Job Confidently

Natasha Serafimovska

Career Coach, Professional Resume Writer, Freelance Writer


Whether you’re a recent graduate or you still have a few exams left, you may be itching to put your polished leather shoes on and join the workforce. After all, your first job is an entryway into the professional life you’d lead for the decades to come.

However, you may be wondering how to get your first job. Perhaps you’ve looked through a few job boards and the job descriptions looked too intimidating? Or, you might have already sent dozens of applications and haven’t heard anything back?

Don’t fret. Getting your first job is a job in itself, and it may take a while before your efforts gain some traction. Here we look at why your first job is so important and how to approach your job search with confidence and ingenuity.

Importance of Your First Job

woman on the first day of her first job

While getting your first job can be hard, you shouldn’t settle for whatever comes first. Think of it as a stepping stone towards the career you want to have. While you may be unsure about what you want, or you may change your mind later on, the first job can be key to opening new doors in the future and securing healthy lifetime earnings.

Things to Consider for Your First Job

When applying for jobs, consider what job would be most suitable for your immediate circumstances and short to mid-term goals.

  • Paycheck – what’s the expected pay range for the types of jobs you’re going after?
  • Opportunities – does the employer invest in employee training and development? Is the organization agile enough to offer room for growth and promotions?
  • The Employer Brand – do former employees complain about how they’d been treated? Has the company received backlash about its stance on environmental issues or another cause you may care deeply about?
  • Other perks – what other perks does the job come with? Is your employer going to make pension contributions? Do they offer a stellar healthcare insurance? 

How to Start Your First Job Search?

When looking for a job, attitude matters much more than aptitude. Employers can teach you core skills, but they can’t teach you how to be optimistic, flexible and friendly. So, before you send out your first application, make sure your attitude is your ally in your job hunt.

job search concept for how to find a job that makes you happy

10 Tips to Get Your First Job Without Experience

Tap Your Network

A LinkedIn study has found that 85% of all jobs are filled via networking. That’s why looking at your network first may be a great place to start. If you feel like you don’t have a big network to tap into, you can look to immediate friends and family. They may give you a few pointers for where to look. You can also start to be more proactive with your networking and attend job fairs, events and conferences that are of interest to you. 

Search for a Job as a Fresher

There’s no point in applying for jobs that are looking for four or five years of experience, as you’d be immediately disqualified. Instead, select a dozen jobs aimed at new grads and ensure they are in line with your interests, passions and expectations.

Look for Volunteer Activities as Experience

Volunteering is one of the best and fastest routes to work experience. Nonprofits and small businesses can always use extra hands on deck to help with operations, marketing and other office work. Even if you go for outdoor activities like cleaning up the beach or helping underprivileged kids, volunteering can showcase your character, values and desire to help.

Update Your Resume Smartly

Recruiters spend about seven seconds looking at a resume before making up their mind about a candidate. So, you better make sure yours is spotless, especially if it’s your first resume. One of the most important things they’re looking for is how relevant is your background and experience to the job you’re applying for. Make sure you update and tailor your resume specifically for that position. Don’t forget to squash any typos or grammatical errors.

Look for Mentor & Ask for Advice

If you haven’t had a job before, you may not know many people in your network who can serve as a mentor. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t leverage the wealth of information the internet offers. If there’s someone you admire and look up to, why not reach out to them via LinkedIn, introduce yourself and ask for some help? 

Unless you’re reaching out to Bill Gates or another super busy celebrity, most people would be flattered if you chose them and would offer to help. 

Actively Follow Social Media Job Groups

Social media isn’t great only for posting pictures of your latest frappuccino. Places like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are brimming with groups and posts dedicated to specific careers and opportunities. Why not search them for keywords around your desired job or skills? Even if you don’t get a full-time job, you may find freelance opportunities, which can give you the much needed experience for a full-time position.

Make a List of Places to Apply

Employers like nothing more than an applicant who has put the time and effort in their application. Sending out blanket resumes and cover letters to hundreds of businesses won’t get you anywhere. Instead, do your research and draw a shortlist of companies you’d love to work for. Then tailor your application to each position you’re applying for.

Setup Your Mind for an Interview

Be confident in how you present yourself. Think about how the “you” on paper translates in real life when you’re invited for an interview. What type of questions can you anticipate to get and how would you answer them?

Be Prepared for Rejection

Rejection is part of the process. It’s impossible to get 100% of all the jobs you’ve applied for. So, instead of beating yourself up, understand that rejections aren’t personal and can mean one of many things. They either filled the job internally, found someone who asked for less money, or found a better fit skillswise. That doesn’t mean that your perfect job isn’t just around the corner.

Follow Up Every Lead

After you’ve applied, you need to be proactive in order to stay on people’s radar. Not only will this make you stand out, but it will showcase how motivated, dedicated and committed you are to getting the job. For instance, once you’ve applied for a job, you can contact your prospective manager via LinkedIn or email and let them know you’ve put in your application and you look forward to hearing from them. Or, if you haven’t heard in two or three weeks, send the hiring manager a note requesting an update. This couldn’t hurt and it can definitely help.

How to Apply for Your First Job?

Resumes and cover letters are your main tools with which you’d be working all throughout your job search. So, you might as well have them nailed. 

Write a Better Resume and Proofread by Others

Don’t rush your resume writing. If you don’t know where to start from, there are many professional resume writing services you could reach out to. These can give your resume a professional do-over reflecting your personality, experience and desired career. 

If you’re going to do this work yourself, make sure other people take a look at it as well to spot any typos or illogical sentences.

Write a Cover Letter Mentioning Different Achievements

Your cover letter is your elevator pitch. It needs to be properly formatted, concise and specific. Instead of talking vaguely about your interests and achievements, try to be as specific as possible. Highlight a skill that’s in line with the job description, then give a problem-solution example of how you’ve developed or exhibited that skill. Again, if you don’t have work experience you can use examples from university projects, volunteering and even your daily life. 

Adjust Your Resume with Job Positiion

One of the easiest ways to get put in the rejection pile is to have a generic resume that fits the job description only halfway. What you want is to have a tailor-made resume specifically for this job. You may not have 100% of requirements, but your job is to showcase what you do have and minimize what you don’t.

Frequently Asked Questions on Getting Your First Job

Is It Hard to Get a Job for the First Time?

Getting any job can be a time-consuming task, let alone a first job when you have little to no experience. Investing three to six months, and even a year, is quite normal when you’re looking for your first job. The most important thing here is to stay consistent and keep applying. 

How Can I Get My First Job with no Experience?

You can leverage several avenues for discovering opportunities. Your personal network, social media and job boards are just a few places you can go to. When reaching out to somebody, make sure you show the best side of you and demonstrate your excitement and enthusiasm for the job. Sometimes, a positive attitude is all you need to be given a chance.

What Should You Do When You Start Your First Job?

If you’ve been offered a job – perfect! Congratulations! Now, you need to make sure that you keep the good momentum going even when you start the job. Make sure you dress properly, arrive on time and are attentive to whatever you’re being told on your first day. Be friendly and show interest in your co-workers as this can help you integrate in the workplace and adapt to the new environment more easily.

How Long Should You Stay at Your First Job?

This can vary by culture. In Japan, for instance, switching jobs can be frowned upon and seen as disloyal. However, western societies are used to people changing jobs every few years. When it comes to your first job, stay there for as long as you feel you’re getting something out of it. Once you feel like you’ve stopped growing or learning, it might time for a change. This may be six months from when you started or four years. It all depends.

Conclusion

Our first jobs can feel like a rite of passage into adulthood. From taking on brand new responsibilities, pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone and being financially independent – it can be an exciting part of our lives.

However, not any job is a good first job. Make sure you do your due diligence and you invest time and effort into finding the jobs that are the best fit for your personality and aspirations. Once you find them, put an effort to put your best foot forward in your applications.

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