7 Tips to Help you Find your First Job

Finding a job, especially your first one, can be a challenging and frustrating experience. There are highly competitive positions, and you need to stand out from hundreds of applicants to draw the employer’s attention.

Also, some companies post career opportunities exclusively to internal applicants or prefer referrals. According to Jobvite’s Job Seeker Database 2017 Report, internal hiring is 6x more effective than all other sources of hiring, followed by referrals and custom recruitment campaigns

Therefore, putting extra effort and being proactive will help you land that first job. But what are the different ways to find job opportunities, and where do you start? Here are helpful tips to make your job hunting a breeze.

Seek help from your school

Many struggle to take their first step into the workforce, and it’s up to their schools to help them. If there’s one place you should start looking for a job, that would be your school’s career center. A career advisor can help you sort things out and look at your options. Here are some ways school staff help students find careers:

  • Coach them how to craft resumes, cover letters and tailor these to be ATS-friendly.
  • Help them practice and improve interview techniques and provide constructive feedback.
  • Provide students with career options that fit their skills and interests.
  • Create verified credentials that prove students have soft skills.
  • Deliver diplomas and certificates to hiring managers instantly, so students are confident they receive this crucial information. 

Also, colleges and universities may sometimes host job fairs within the campus. They invite individual recruiters and provide directories of recruitment events in specified areas. Alumni events are also a great way to meet and expand your network with successful alumni. They might be looking to hire someone for their business or absorb someone for the company they are working with.

How to Prepare for a Job Fair and Alumni Events

Make meaningful connections, differentiate yourself from others, and leave a lasting impression by following these preparation tips before attending a job fair and alumni events.

  • Update your professional profile and resume that best reflects your current skills and experience. This is so you won’t forget the necessary information that shows you are a qualified candidate. 
  • Bring a professional folder with copies of your targeted resume and business cards can increase your chances of getting noticed if you meet with a recruiter for the position you want.
  • Ask for business cards or give your business card towards the end of the conversation. If you have created a digital business card, you can show that as well.
  • Research into the companies and their representatives so you can speak with them about your interest in their company.
  • Be prepared to ask basic questions so you can learn more about the company and its available positions.
  • Put your best foot forward and dress professionally.
hispanic female first job search online

Build a Strong Network

According to an article published in LinkedIn by Lou Adler, a whopping 85% of jobs are filled through networking. Networking is a powerful way to find a job. That is because it connects you to potential employers and coworkers deeper and more personal than online or paper applications alone.  

So how do you go about networking to find a job? The most appropriate way is usually to reach out to inquire for information or career-related advice. This is as opposed to asking someone upfront to hire you, which may be too blunt and off-putting for many. 

Reach out to as many professionals you know -former professors, coaches, summer-job employers, and other people who have an idea of your skills and capabilities. Attend events where you can establish rapport and develop some relationships with professionals such as alumni. 

Aside from reaching out, seeking referrals, and attending events, you can also network by joining professional organizations that are related to the career field you are interested in. For example, your school might have several organizations that specialize in specific fields.

Those groups may have alumni members who tap into those particular organizations whenever they require potential new hires. Here are some networking tips to help you establish your career:

  • Get in touch with your connections once in a while to keep your network alive.
  • If you are not an outgoing person, you can take advantage of social media and networking sites to make connections.
  • Stay on top of your industry and be updated by reading news and subscribing to newsletters.
  • Use the connections you already have to build your network. You can ask your friends or relatives to connect you with someone.

Create a LinkedIn Profile

A LinkedIn Profile is an online extension of your networking efforts where you establish and grow connections with businesses and potential employers. It also doubles as a stage where you can showcase your skills and credentials. With it, you can build a personal brand and apply for jobs at the same time. 

The great thing about building a LinkedIn profile is that you don’t need work experience to accomplish one. You can even start building your profile while you are still at school. Showcase your academic achievements, extra-curricular activities, internships, and volunteer projects. Give onlookers an idea of who you are and what capabilities you have.

Tips in Creating a LinkedIn Profile

Increase the chances of being seen by potential employers on LinkedIn with some of these tactical tips:

  • Use a professional-looking photo that is in high resolution. Also, avoid selfies or group photos, and make sure that you look approachable.
  • Write a brief but concise headline that stands out using your title and highlighting what you do.
  • Put a spotlight on selling yourself by highlighting your skills and achievements in the “Summary” section. You only have 50 to 100 words, so be strict about the length. Focus on listing all your academic achievements. However, avoid listing any non-traditional pedigrees such as LinkedIn Certifications as they might get you overlooked.
  • Maintain a visible presence on LinkedIn by being more active. Create a LinkedIn post every now and then. You can write a post about your job success and any issues relevant to your industry.
  • Use LinkedIn’s job search function and subscribe to job alerts to know more about job opportunities.
  • Join LinkedIn groups to get inside information and find people within your sector.

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Prepare an elevator pitch

If you’ve ever seen an interview session on TV, the inevitable question of “tell me about yourself” almost always pops out. For many, it is such a dreaded and unfortunate question that leaves many scrambling for the perfect answer. Do you focus on your traits? Your accomplishment? Your personal interests? Where do you even begin?

Having a ready answer for this type of question not only prepares you for formal job interviews. It also prepares you to have the right amount of self-confidence for all of your networking events. Use it when you come face-to-face with professionals who want to know about you. 

Make a mental list of your most prominent interests and your most reliable skills, as well as your most significant accomplishments. Make three to four sentences out of it. It should be catchy enough to capture and retain the listener’s interest. At the same time, it should also be informative and rich enough to give them a good idea of your strengths with a brief glimpse of your personality. 

What to Say in an Elevator Pitch

  • Start your pitch by introducing yourself. 
  • Summarize your background and relevant professional information, such as your education, work experiences, and your strengths.
  • Identify your goals and explain the values you’ll bring and why you are a good fit.
  • Engage the employer by asking an open-ended question to start a conversation.
  • End your elevator pitch by stating what you would like to happen next.

Your elevator pitch should be persuasive and clear enough to spark interest in who you are and what you can offer to the company. It should be 30 to 60 seconds long but short enough to sell yourself as a professional.

List down your favorite companies

Luckily, job hunting is not as tedious as before. Nowadays, job search websites take off much of the job hunting and application process, so now all you need to do is find companies you would like to work for.

Once you have identified who you want to work for, you can directly visit their websites’ employment or careers page. There, you can look for student or graduate job opportunities.

To give you a boost in this step, you can try contacting alumni who may be affiliated with the companies who are hiring. Ask them for advice on how to go about the application process or career opportunities in their company. LinkedIn’s alumni function can help you with this, or your school’s career center may have some ready information. 

How do you narrow down the companies in your list and determine which one is perfect for you? Here’s how to get started.

Best Ways to Identify the Perfect Companies to Apply For

  • Search for your company’s mission and vision and ensure that they resonate with your interests and goals.
  • Read reviews from past and present employees. Indeed Company Pages and Glassdoor EMPLOYERS Reviews provide detailed information on companies worldwide.
  • Find out the benefits and other perks the company offers to its employees.
  • Learn about how the company is generating its income and the type of customers they cater to, and the services they offer.
  • Get to know their leadership. Read the company’s “About Page” and research which holds the respected position. From there, you can check their background from the available resources online, such as published articles, interviews, as well as their social media posts.
  • Search for general news about the company for recent updates to gauge their reputation.
  • Seek opinions from your networks to get an inside scoop on their own company and job opportunities.
  • Find out your dream company’s competitors and include them in your considerations.
female student find first job

Organize your job search

The thing about job hunting is that you are accountable for no one but yourself. You don’t have a boss yet or a professor anymore who is giving your deadlines or prodding you to finish tasks period after period. It is easy to fall into an unproductive trap if you end up procrastinating at every opportunity you get.

To address this, it would be helpful to rewire your mentality for success and treat your job hunting as if it were an actual job. Carve out a weekly schedule that you dedicate to job hunting while you are at school, and make more time for it once you have graduated. Make sure to stick to your schedule as if it were a commitment that you had to fulfill. Otherwise, you might just keep putting it off until you realize that a lot of time had gone by with you just stalling, and all the jobs you would have wanted had already been taken.

Simple Ways to Organize Your Job Search

  • Use a spreadsheet to keep track of your job applications. It shouldn’t be complicated, but it’s up to you what details you will include. You can use the following key information to include in your columns: Company Name, Contact, Email, Date Applied, File/s Submitted, Interview, Follow-Up, and Status. 
  • Make a schedule to work on your job search and commit to it.
  • Use Google Drive and Google Calendar to stay organized online. This is because you can create, save, export, and access your files anytime and anywhere, as long as you have the Internet.
  • Sign up to job search websites and agree to receive a job alert when there are new job openings that match your interests. Also, most job search sites offer built-in tools to keep track of your applications.
  • Use job search management apps to organize your job search on your mobile phone or tablet.

Participate in Internships

Internships are temporary work experience offered by companies. They can either be paid or unpaid and may admit either college graduates or college students past a specific year level. An internship is an excellent opportunity to showcase your skills and talents while earning valuable work experience and learning.

A good chunk of interns eventually gets absorbed by the companies they are working for, but even if the served time does not end in a job offer, you can still use your work experience as an intern for your future applications. On top of that, after the experience, you would have already gained valuable on-the-job skills and knowledge that you would otherwise not know in a theory setting.

Getting rejection letters or no responses from employers is part of the job search process. But don’t get discouraged because it happens to almost everyone. What you should do is dust yourself off and keep trying. You will get your first job, and it is worth the wait and effort. And when you settle in your first job, make sure that you find ways to develop professionally.    

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