How to Land Your First Job
Landing your first job can be tough but with a little persistence and these tips you can find yourself employed!
Set proper expectations
When looking for your first job, it’s important to have realistic expectations. After all, you are just entering the job market and you’re competing against people who have years of experience. Don’t get discouraged, but know what to expect in terms of entry-level wages and job functions. Talk with a school guidance counselor, your parents or come in and talk to one of Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow’s job developers. They can provide valuable insight into the reality of the working world. Be prepared with a list of questions so you get the kind of information you need to find your first job.
Work for the experience
Sometimes a job might not be exactly what you’re looking for, but it puts you in contact with people or organizations that might help you in the future. For example, working as an office clerk might not be the most exciting first job, but it might enable you to shadow someone in a job that interests you. While you’re looking for your first job, consider volunteering. Volunteering is a great way to gain experience and skills that you can put on your resume.
Create and proofread your resume
Even if there will not be much on it, your resume will help introduce you to your desired job. Remember not all experience has to have come from a previous job, maybe you’ve done some work for a local community organization or church or designed websites as a hobby? After you’ve written your resume, ask a friend or relative who has good writing skills to proof read it for spelling mistakes or grammatical errors you may have missed.
Look High and Low
Finding a job is a job in itself. In order to be successful, you need to use every resource available to you. Look online at job sites like monster.com, careerbuilder.com, indeed.com or glassdoor.com as well as job listings in the local paper. Additionally, spread the word to your family and friends about your job search. Many people get jobs through referrals. Be sure to follow up with prospective employers after you submit your application.
Make sure you follow the interview checklist before each job interview to increase your chances of landing the job!
- Research the company – It’s important to know as much about the company as possible before you meet with a prospective employer. Not only will you impress the interviewer with you knowledge but you’ll also be able to answer the interviewer’s questions more accurately and ask better questions about the company and the position.
Rehearse your responses to common job interview questions – Prepare your responses ahead of time to the most common job interview questions including:
- What interests you about the job/company?
- Why would you be good at this job?
- What do you know about the job/company so far?
- Tell us about a time when..(you excelled at a job, you overcame adversity, etc)?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
By having answers prepared, you’ll be more relaxed during your interview and won’t have to think on your feet.
Think of your own questions to ask (and know which ones to avoid) – most employers will give you a chance to ask questions about the job or company during the interview. This is a great chance to show your interest in the role and the organization. However, it is important to stay away from questions that can reflect badly on you such as:
- How much will I get?
- Do you do background checks or drug tests?
- What is the vacation policy?
In general, bad interview questions are forms of “me” questions — questions that appear to put your needs before those of the employer. The best interview questions focus on what the applicant can do for the company, not what the company can do for applicant.
- Practice with a mock interview – ask a friend or relative to ask you some of the most common interviews and practice your responses. After all, practice makes perfect!
- Gather what you need for your interview beforehand including:
- Directions/Contact Info
- Proper interview dress attire
- Copies of your resume
- Notepad and pen
Stick with it
Don’t give up if you can’t find a job right away. A job search takes persistence and patience. It’s important to keep trying, because a potential employer will notice if you have the determination and the drive to find a job.