Tips for Landing Your First Job


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With summer vacation wrapping up and the school season approaching, it’s a great time to look for some work opportunities to balance out the school year, if you’re thinking about starting to work part-time this fall. No matter what type of work you’re looking to get into, here are some top tips to help you land (and love) your first job!

Step 1: The Job Search

It all begins here. Deciding to start looking for work is the first step to getting closer to landing that perfect role! Maybe you’re saving up for school, a car, a trip with your friends, or just looking for some extra spending money. Whatever the reason, here’s how to get started on your job hunt:

  • Know yourself. This means thinking about not only what you need the job for, but also the type of work you want to do. When looking for jobs, we often focus on the financial benefits that come with working, which are a very key aspect. If that’s the main reason to find a job, that’s totally cool, but it can also be helpful to think about the other benefits a job can provide in other aspects of your life, such as your social, physical, and—most importantly— your mental wellbeing. So, before you begin applying, think about what you want to get out of working, and what positions actually align with your interests and skills first. Especially if you’re finding job searching overwhelming, this will help narrow down your search so that you’re only focusing on job postings that speak to you.
  • Research, research, research. In addition to knowing yourself and what you value in a job, you may also want to brush up on the role itself. A great way to do this is to look into the company or industry of the position. You can also look online at what past employees have to say about the company or position. This will help you round out your knowledge of the role so that you’re up to date on what’s going on and other important information before you apply.

Step 2: The Application

So, you’ve found a role that seems like it will be a good fit for you. Here’s how to make the most of your application:  

  • Build a killer resume. Your resume will give your employer a good idea of who you are and what you bring to the table. Here’s how to take your resume to the next level:
  • Highlight “soft skills.” Soft skills are skills that aren’t necessarily technical but are super important in the workplace. These include good teamwork, time management, decision-making and willingness to learn. These skills are often the first things employers look for because it’s not just what you do, but how you do it that matters. 
  • Keep it short and sweet.  While you want to use your resume to showcase your experience, you also want to make sure that you are including only the most relevant experiences to the job you’re applying for. 
  • Be honest. If you’re applying to your first job, you may not have a lot of past work history to include on your resume. Don’t stress – everyone has been in your position before. Just be honest and don’t try to beef up your resume with experience that you don’t have. Trust me, your employer will find out. Instead, think about other roles you may have held that demonstrate the skills the position is asking for. These can be anything from volunteering in the community, babysitting, sports teams, and other extra-curricular activities you might be, or have been, a part of.
  • Read and follow instructions carefully. Every job will have a specific set of instructions to follow in order to apply. Make sure you read all the instructions fully and triple-check that you’ve included all the documents you need before you hit ‘submit.’ Being able to follow the instructions as listed could be the first “check” that employers look for in consideration of hiring you and will set you apart from other candidates.

Step 3: The Interview

Woo hoo! You’ve been invited for an interview – that’s one step closer to getting the job. What now?

  • Practice makes perfect. While no two interviews are the same, you can plan ahead by looking up common job interview questions and asking a friend or family member to help you run a “mock” interview. Here are some prompts to get you started:
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why did you apply for this job?
  • Ask questions. Interviews are not just about showing why you are the right fit for a role. Again, you also want to know if the job is going to be the right fit for you. Prepare 1-2 questions to ask your interviewer by using the research you would have done in the job search. These deeper dives into the employer and the hiring company will help you decide if this role will meet your needs. It will also show your employer that you took the time to do research and show your interest. Cough cough, soft skill alert!
  • Be (extra) on time! This may sound obvious, but it can’t be stressed enough. Punctuality is key – it’s the best first impression you can make before your interview even starts. If your interview is at another location, be sure to map out the travel route and time it takes to get there a few days ahead. Aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled time, as sometimes they will start earlier if they have a lot of people to interview. If you’re interviewing virtually, make sure to test out your internet connection beforehand and check any other equipment you need to complete the interview. Charge your devices well in advance and find a quiet area where you won’t be distracted or interrupted. 
  • Show up as yourself. Although your first interview will be intimidating and you want to be prepared, you still want to show up as your authentic self and let your personality shine.  Don’t be afraid to be curious, creative or even crack a joke (as long as you keep it professional). Most employers will appreciate honest and thoughtful responses, and not just a list of bullet points that you rehearsed. 
  • Follow up. Want to make a lasting impression on your interviewer? Send them a quick, short email a few hours after your interview. Thank them for their time and let them know you’re excited about the role, having learned more about it and the company during your interview. This will keep you top-of-mind and, again, it reiterates your interest in the role and showcases your soft skills.
  • Get real about rejection. Truth: You won’t get every job you apply for. It may take many applications before you finally get the call back for an interview. And sometimes, you may make it to the interview stage and even do a great job, and still not get selected. There will always be reasons outside of your control for why you aren’t chosen for a job. Don’t let rejection get you down. And don’t take it personally, either. Ask for feedback from the interviewer and see if there’s anything you can improve on for next time. There will always be an open door somewhere. Where your skills and experience may not match up for one place, they will be a perfect fit for another. Keep at it!

Step 4: The First Day

Congrats! You aced the interview and landed the job – great work! Now, your first day is finally here. Feeling some nerves is normal, but setting them aside and being your best self is key. Here’s how to rock your first day: 

  • Dress to express. When you look good, you feel good. Wear something that makes you feel confident and comfortable, so that you can put your best foot forward. Of course, keep in mind the company dress code to avoid any awkward conversations. And, if you have a work uniform, add a little personality to it with accessories, like a pair of cute earrings. 
  • Ask questions. Just because the interview is done doesn’t mean your questions have to stop. You’ll probably be learning a lot of new things on your first day. If there’s anything you’re unsure of or need further explanation on, don’t be afraid to ask. Plus, it’s easier to ask when you’re just starting out than it is later on when you’re expected to know things. 
  • Introduce yourself. Be sure to introduce yourself to all your new coworkers. Ask them about themselves and get to know them. The relationships amongst your coworkers can be a huge part of your overall experience on the job. 
  • Have fun! Your first job is something to celebrate and be proud of yourself for! It’s a huge accomplishment and you deserve to be here. No matter your role, this is the start of an exciting, new chapter – go out and get it, girl!

Have questions about work and job searches? Keep up with our blog for new and refreshing tips on work, school and social life, and be sure to check out our IG @EmpowHERto for more exciting content this fall!

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