5 Tips for Landing Your First Job
Whether you’re a recent graduate or joining the workforce later in life, landing your first job can feel like a herculean task. There seems to be an infinite number of vacancy ads and job boards online, making it even more confusing and overwhelming. You worry about locating the right jobs, crafting a stellar resume, and wowing the employer in a job interview, and you know you’re likely competing against hundreds of other candidates.
It’s only natural to feel anxious, but don’t let fear weaken your motivation to keep looking because you can improve your chances of securing your first job. If you follow the tips below, you may find the process goes more smoothly than you expect.
The job-seeking process has changed dramatically with the rise of social media and remote work. More companies now offer work-from-home or hybrid options, conduct interviews online, and check social media profiles to get a better idea of who the candidates are. Still, some things remain the same, such as the need to have an impressive resume ready, send out cover letters, and network to broaden your professional horizons. It’s important to cover all your bases, and while it may feel overwhelming right now, we promise it will get easier.
If you’re not sure where to start, get career coaching over the phone to help you identify the right path to securing your ideal job. Our seasoned career coaches stand ready to support you with practical advice, guidance, and encouragement.
Let’s now look at some of the things you should keep in mind if you’re trying to land your first job.
1. Know what you want
Knowing what you want in your professional life, specifically what kind of job you want, will increase your chances of getting the right job. Unless you’re clear on what you want, you won’t know how to search for it—the chances of your dream job (or any job, for that matter) just falling into your lap are slim to none.
Even if you’re not sure exactly what you want, you should narrow down the kind of roles you see yourself in or the companies you’d like to work for. At the very least, figure out what field you’re interested in. If you’re really stuck, consider talking to a career coach—they’re trained to ask all the right questions to make you arrive at the right answers.
If there’s a specific company you would like to join but you’re not sure in what capacity, you can visit its official website and browse through its current job openings. This can give you an idea of what kinds of positions the company needs to fill. Do ample research into your field of interest as well, which will paint a clearer picture of the jobs available and what your professional trajectory in this industry may look like. The more clarity you have about your goals before you begin the job search, the easier and more straightforward the process will be.
2. Network in earnest
Sometimes, landing a job comes down to who you know rather than what you know. When you’re in pursuit of your first-ever job, you might have to rely on your network more than you would if you had a few years of experience under your belt. Knowing the right people can get you through the door of that company you’ve been looking into or give you some leads about vacancies in your target field, but establishing these connections in the first place can be a challenge.
Focus on building your network before you even start applying for jobs. Create a profile on LinkedIn—it’s all but mandatory for job seekers today—and start making connections with relevant people. Be polite and professional, and make sure you can offer them something in return for their assistance and advice. Even offline, don’t be afraid to reach out and tell people what kind of job you’re looking for—you never know who you could meet or what opportunities it could lead to.
3. Build your brand
Now more than ever, your personal brand is inextricably tied to who you are as an individual and a professional, so make sure your social media presence projects the kind of image you want potential employers to see. Yes, this includes your personal social media accounts—if your posts are publicly shared, they’re no longer just a “personal” thing.
Before you start applying for jobs, comb through your social media profiles for any unsavory content, and don’t hold back on clicking the “delete” button when you come across wild party pictures, controversial posts, or angry comments. You may also want to set your profiles to private so hiring managers can’t see your content.
That said, it’s also worth it to build a positive online presence. If a recruiter encounters nothing but a bunch of private profiles when they look you up online, they might get suspicious or simply lose interest. However, if you can display your charm, wit, intelligence, professionalism, and passion through carefully curated public profiles, they’ll probably be biased in your favor
Whether you share videos, photos, or blog posts with your audience, try to mold your brand so it reflects the kind of professional you want to become. It’s also important to maintain a consistent image across different platforms. We suggest keeping your private accounts separate from your professional ones to avoid any issues or awkward job interview moments.
4. Optimize your resume
Your resume is your calling card, and it’s usually the first thing recruiters see, so you need it to highlight all your best attributes and present you as an ideal candidate (despite your lack of professional experience). If you’re just entering the workforce, the hiring manager will understand you don’t have much experience, but you still need to sell them on your skills and potential.
Customize your resume for each job you’re applying for, taking special care to match your qualifications to the employer’s needs and focusing on your strengths, technical skills, short- and long-term goals, and interest in the field. Go carefully through the job post and identify the keywords—they’ll probably be bolded, italicized, underlined, or otherwise distinct. Include as many of them as you can in your resume—not only will this show the hiring manager that you have a great eye for detail, but it’ll also help you get past the applicant tracking systems that most companies use to filter out irrelevant candidates.
5. Search the job boards
Online job boards can be intimidating for first-timers. There are so many job search and networking websites out there that it’s hard to know where to start, so do your research first—which board will work best for you can depend on the industry you’re targeting—create your profiles, and start looking. Play around and see what you can find; it’s okay to make mistakes, but you do want to avoid expending too much energy on things that don’t help you.
Try different keywords in your search, and check out what others have to say about the employers you’re interested in. You can usually learn a lot about a company’s corporate culture from the comments of its current and former employers. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to them, either—people are often happy to advise novice job seekers.
Searching for your first job can be quite stressful, especially if you’re not sure what you want to do work-wise, but don’t worry—that’s natural, and we can always seek help. Whether you need career coaching, help writing your resume and LinkedIn profile, or a mock job interview, check out our job success services and take your first career step today!