New to the Workforce? How to Land Your First Job

Not long after you enter the “real world,” you’ll receive a jarring reality check — getting your first job is hard. Like, really hard. Not only is it difficult to find a job you think you could care about in the industry you want to be in; but on top of that, there is your lack of experience, contacts and confidence.

Did we just make your prospects sound even worse? Sorry. But with a shift in focus and a heightened degree of preparedness, you’ll be well on your way to your first real job, real paycheck and real start in the “real world.”

Shift your mentality. It can be easy to get bogged down in feeling restless, underqualified and disparate about your chances of ever getting a job. But guess what? You WILL get a job — it’s just a matter of when.

Rest in the confidence that there is an opportunity for you out there. In the meantime, shift your mentality to humility, and if you need a job, get one that may be beneath your current skill set. If anything, it will produce some experience and a reference or two.

Network, network, network. Many new job seekers are terrified of networking. Yes, your first conversation or two may be awkward, but you’ll soon find there is a formula to networking. Ask people in your desired field out for coffee and ask questions. Attend networking events. Start interacting and dialoguing with professionals on social media outlets.

Update your resume. If your resume has tons of white space, that just won’t do. Your resume doesn’t have to be all about work experience. If you’re new to the workforce, you probably have plenty of volunteer, extracurricular or travel experience under your belt. Show those off, and talk them up in your cover letter. These experiences can show that you’re motivated, compassionate and hard-working - qualities that recruiters and team managers are definitely looking for in new hires.

Work on your interview skills. Let’s be honest, the interview can be terrifying…at first. But like networking, there is a formula to the interview as well. Potential employers will ask about your previous work experience, why you think you’re the best fit for the opening and whether or not you have any questions.

The key to the interview is preparing in advance. Come up with answers to these common questions, and practice your responses with a friend or family member. Study the job description and draw parallels from your past experiences or character traits that align with the requirements. Research the company, the industry and the position, and come up with questions that show you’re interested, engaged and willing to learn.

Be prepared. When it comes to the job search, you must be prepared for an interview or a chance to network at a moment’s notice. Have a designated interview outfit that is always clean, several hard copies of your resume and the confidence that you will succeed in finding your first job.

What other concerns do you have in landing your first real job? Share now in our comments!

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About Kathryn Randolph

Kathryn is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago, Illinois. She holds a B.A. in English Writing from DePauw University and has five years experience writing for major job search and higher education websites. When she's not writing for the web, Kathryn is hanging out with her new baby girl, traveling, cooking, reading and running. She believes that the perfect job is out there for everyone and hopes to help Spark Hire job seekers discover their career passion and pursue it.