Winning the Career Game. Finding your first job is your first job

Your first job…the first step in the lifelong management of your career.

Finding your first job is your first job.

As the economy rebounds and the unemployment rate for college—educated people continues to fall, jobs are likely to become more plentiful. As demand for quality employees rises, so does your value. So what's the best way to go about finding your dream first job?

Don't just jump into the search blindly. It's extremely important to take time out for planning. Your search may take longer than you think—and what works for someone else may not work for you. It makes sense to consider using a number of different strategies because each one may produce interviews and, eventually, an offer.

Approach your search for the job that starts you on the career ladder as though it were a job. Apply the same work ethic, standards and diligence you expect to employ once you've entered the workforce. Start with an open mind and make sure you've done your homework.

  1. Define your life goals and set your priorities.  Be honest with yourself regarding the things that are important to you. Seek out guidance counselors to take advantage of testing instruments that measure aptitude and interests and help you view yourself in appropriate career alternatives.

  2. Look at a wide variety of career possibilities and industries.  Don't shy away from investigating sales positions, for example. This can be a great way to gain entry into an industry that interests you. And remember, the surest way to keep your career moving forward is to continually get training in new technologies and skills that buy you mobility.

  3. Prepare a resume.  The key to resume writing is to give the reader a brief outline of your qualifications and education without telling your life story. Save the details for the personal interview. To make the most of the 20 seconds or so that an interviewer will spend with your resume, style it with bulleted points and easy-to-read type-two pages, max.

  4. Network with family, friends, acquaintances and business contacts.  Networking can be one of the most important steps in your career search. It generates a continuous supply of contacts and helps you discover where the openings are. The average networking meeting results in three contacts, and it usually takes three levels of networking before you reach a decision-maker at a target company.

  5. Conduct informational interviews with people you view as successful in your profession or industry.  Many people who work in your field or industry will agree to talk to you even if there is no job opening. You can learn a great deal from these interviews—they're rarely a waste of your time.

  6. Compile a target list of companies that best suit your needs.  Researching companies is much easier if you have access to the Internet since most companies have a home page. Don't forget the library, too, which has all the standard business reference works such as Standard and Poor's.

  7. If possible, work as an intern in your field of interest or consider taking interim assignments.  Interim or contract work is growing faster than anyone can track, and interim management firms have emerged to expedite the process. And often, temporary assignments turn into full-time assignments.

  8. Learn how to interview successfully.  Listen carefully to interviewers. Be open to their sequence of questions and don't try to control the interview. Be prepared to answer not only the inevitable questions about your strengths and weaknesses, but behavior questions that demand specific examples as well.

There's probably no better way to land a good job than to be "found" by a professional recruiter conducting a search on behalf of a client. Even though this is not likely to happen to the average new graduate, it's never too early to cultivate a friendly relationship with recruiters who specialize in your field.

Although search firms get hundreds of unsolicited resumes every week, the advent of computerized data entry and retrieval allows for greater candidate credential retention than ever before. And if you're career goals include high-tech functions or industries, your resume may be of immediate interest to a recruiter.

Back to candidate resources & tools
Back To Top Recent Jobs Ads