Getting your first job is a rewarding experience. The role you choose can have a lasting impact on your career path that makes you an overall more competitive candidate for later positions. Earning your first job requires in-depth research as well as setting expectations.
In this article, we discuss why a first job is important and where to start, and list eight helpful steps for obtaining one successfully.
Your first job is important because it teaches you valuable skills and shows you what kind of work you enjoy, which can guide you through the rest of your career. The people you meet and the coworkers you work with are often more important than the money you make.
Your first job is a great place to network as you can make connections to higher-paying jobs. It also exposes you to new situations with customers, inventory and even particular computer systems. You can also add experience from your first job to your resume to make you even more competitive in future applications.
Related: How to Make a Resume for Your First Job
Before applying to positions, consider your current connections. Think of friends or family you know who might vouch for you in working for a small business or another local employer. Take into account any skills you may have from volunteer work, community service or a civic organization.
These roles may not be paying jobs, but the experience you earned there is likely valuable enough to gain a role within a company. Consider where your interests lie as well. For example, if you want to work in the film industry, start at your local movie theater. If you have an interest in culinary arts, look for a job at a local restaurant. It's very possible to obtain a job that's relatively in line with your career goals or can set you on the appropriate path.
Related: 10 Conversation Starters for Networking and Relationship Building
Set your expectations.Network with peers.Consider a job for the experience.Write a resume.Search for a job.Prepare for the interview.Dress appropriately.Follow up after the interview.
Higher-paying jobs often require additional education and experience. As you first start your career, consider jobs in retail, sales, fast food or other entry-level sectors. These are often competitive positions because many teenagers and young adults seek them out. However, these workplaces are almost always hiring, so there are plenty of opportunities for you.
Whether you're just starting your career or are approaching the midway point, networking is always beneficial. Talk to your friends, family and schoolmates and let them know you're actively seeking a job. Friends or other students may have connections to family-run businesses or can vouch for you at a local restaurant. Having a connection to a role significantly increases your chances of obtaining the position.
Your first job may not be exactly what you want, but it offers a valuable experience you can use later. For example, if you work in retail, you earn in-demand customer service skills and expose yourself to a wide variety of situations. Each one presents unique ways for you to either learn new skills or sharpen old ones. In a restaurant setting, you might learn basic business fundamentals like inventory management or food safety. It could even lead to an advanced position, since many restaurants prefer to promote a waitress to kitchen staff rather than hire a stranger.
The best way to promote yourself to an employer is to have a resume to show them. You may have little or no professional experience to discuss within your resume, but consider the skills you learned elsewhere. For example, if you're taking and excelling in a public speaking course, you might include your advanced verbal communication skills. Also, consider volunteer positions as they provide a similar experience as a paid position. For example, if you volunteered in a soup kitchen, include it in your resume with food preparation skills, customer service skills and more.
While networking is great for making business contacts, it also requires you to supplement it with an actual job search. There are many tools and applications both online on your computer and on your smartphone that can help. Some solely focus on the job search, while others include other features like social media and networking elements. Look up your desired roles in the local area through job boards. You can even make an online professional networking profile and start showcasing some of your skills, talents and experience.
Once you select a job, apply and earn an interview, the time comes to prepare. Look over the job description and study the information presented. Take note of particular attributes or skills they look for in applicants. Research the business and discover its history, mission and beliefs. Find out who may interview you and look them up on networking sites. Read through their interests and get to know them as a person. This information not only helps in an interview but allows you to ask questions about the information you found.
Most interviewers prefer applicants who engage and show that they took the time to get to know the business before the interview.
The first thing an interviewer notices about you is often the clothes you wear. Your attire makes a statement about who you are and your intent within the interview. For example, if you walk into an office interview with a T-shirt and jeans, it may look as though you're not taking it seriously. Consider the job you applied to and what employees wear on a daily basis. When dressing for your interview, try clothes that are a step above the daily dress code. For example, if the job allows business casual attire, choose business formal attire for the interview.
It's not often required, but following up after an interview may sway the company's opinion of you in a positive direction. Write an email that explains how thankful and appreciative you are for the opportunity to interview with them. Thank them for their time and send them best wishes for finding the right person for the position. This shows that you really care about the company and the job, encouraging them to consider you for the position. Give them an additional reason to hire you rather than nothing at all.
Related: First Job Interview Questions (With Examples)
Tips for getting your first job
Consider the following list of tips when you're ready to apply:
1. Proofread your application, resume and other materials
Any written or typed supplementary materials you bring into the application and interview process exhibit your communication skills. Ensure you submit a resume free of grammar errors and built with proper formatting. When it comes to your application and other materials, ensure you read every question thoroughly and answer to the best of your ability.
Networking is essential to finding employment and moving forward in your career. Jobs often come easier when you know someone who works there.
Different hiring managers look for different qualifications within an application. Look for specific keywords or recurring phrases within job descriptions. For example, one fast-food manager may put a higher value or greater emphasis on customer service rather than food preparation and explain that in the job posting. In this case, edit your resume to focus more on your customer service-oriented skills such as communication and time management. Include this within your skills section and expand on them within your experience section.
A checklist with how-tos for each stage of the job search: how to apply, resume tips, interview advice and more.
In any job search, you have to sort through many job postings to find the ones that are right for you. Follow these five guidelines to narrow in on the best.
The information on this site is provided as a courtesy. bocdau.com is not a career or legal advisor and does not guarantee job interviews or offers.