Find A Job: 10 Steps for First Time Job Seekers
1) Identify Your Passions & Strengths
The very first step of your job search process should be to identify your passions and strengths. Make a list of activities you enjoy. Once you’ve identified several activities, consider how these activities can translate into a job. For example, if you volunteer at an elementary school after-school program, positions such as a teacher or coach may be a viable option. If you like to take pictures in your spare time, you could consider working as a photographer. It is important to identify what you’re passionate about so you can find a job – and career field – that you enjoy.
2) Determine Your Transferable Skills
Transferable skills are skills that can be transferred from one setting to another, such as teamwork, strong communication and leadership. Click here to view a transferrable skills checklist. Transferable skills can be added to resumes to demonstrate how past experiences prepared you for the job you are applying for. In addition to showcasing these skills on your resume and LinkedIn account, come up with stories to tell during an interview that demonstrate how you can apply these skills in a work setting.
3) Put Together a Resume & Cover Letter
A resume is the main way to highlight your professional experience. As a first time job seeker with little to no previous work experience, writing a resume can be challenging. However, even if you have no previous work experiences, a resume is still crucial. Within your resume, you should include clubs and organizations you’ve participated in, volunteer work, academic background, transferable and technical skills and certifications. Work history can be paid, unpaid, part-time or special projects. Learn more about writing a resume here. To view a sample resume or download a template, click here.
Much like a resume, a cover letter is also necessary when applying for a job. Your cover letter should be custom tailored to each company (yes, that means you can’t simply send out a generic cover letter to every place you apply). A cover letter should explain how you’d be a valuable asset to that particular company, rather than making the focus of the letter about you/your accomplishments. While this does make the job search process a bit more time consuming, you’re much more likely to hear back from a company if you gear your cover letter directly to the company and explain how you’d be a good fit with their company.
Interested in learning more about how to write a cover letter? Head over to our Resume Resources page.
4) Develop a Job Search Strategy
Establish an obtainable job search strategy. Job searching can be a job in and of itself, which is why it is important to pace yourself by setting daily or weekly goals. Set a goal to apply to X amount of jobs each week or spend Y amount of time job searching and networking weekly. Research industry averages, such as salary, so you know what to expect before applying for a job (it’ll save you and the employer time later). To establish a more in depth plan, read JobSpot’s 8 Steps to Beginning Your Job Search.
5) Create a LinkedIn Account
Start building your professional network online! LinkedIn is the perfect outlet to connect with former classmates, potential employers, friends and family members while showcasing your skills. Upload your transferable skills (much like a resume), add a short bio, and connect with businesses, professional groups and alumni groups. Our LinkedIn Guide can help walk you through the process from start to finish.
6) Clean Up Your Social Media Profiles
Your social media profiles can tell a potential interviewer a lot about you, and can often be the deciding factor on whether you are offered an interview (or a job). Before beginning your job search process, take the time to reassess your online profiles; are they sending a positive message and painting a positive picture of yourself? If the answer is no, go through and delete all questionable content and think before posting in the future. ALSO: Don’t assume that you’re safe because you have your profiles set to “private”! Potential employers may still be able to see your accounts, despite your privacy settings.
7) Practice Your Pitch
Create an elevator pitch that clearly states not only why you are the best candidate for the job, but also explains why the characteristics and skills you possess make you more qualified (and a better fit!) than other applicants.
8) Get Involved
Focus on building your network. Attend networking events to help make new connections and meet individuals in your field. Keep in contact with classmates, friends and family members – you never know where a potential job lead (or job offer) could come from. Head over to our Networking Tips page to learn more about networking.
By far, volunteering is one of the most beneficial activities out there. By volunteering, you’ll gain experience, acquire new skills, meet new people and give back to the community at large. Although often overlooked, volunteering is a great networking opportunity! It can help you expand your contacts, build career options and, most importantly, gain a sense of accomplishment. Check out our Volunteerism page for a list of local volunteer opportunities!
10) Work For the Experience
Maybe the job you landed isn’t exactly what you were looking for as a first job. Instead of viewing this as a negative, try to view it for what it really is: an opportunity. An opportunity to gain experience, contacts, expand your network and build beneficial relationships which could help you in the future. Gaining experience is what will help you advance to your dream job, so don’t write off internships, job shadowing or volunteering during your job search process.