7 Practical Tips for Students Looking for Their First Job

Looking for your first job straight after college or after high school can be a frightening experience. There is a fear that you are competing with people who are far more experienced and knowledgeable than you are. However, that should not stop you from applying for those jobs and sending out your CV. To help you land your first job, here are seven tips to consider.

Focus On the Industry, Not the Job

Your goal may be to be the CEO of that big brand company, but the chances of landing such a position straight off the bat are nearly impossible. You should focus on getting your foot in the door and working your way up. There is a higher likelihood of being noticed for your good qualities from within the industry than out of it.

When you get an entry position, you get to meet and interact with key industry players who could connect you with great opportunities. Once you’re in, work hard, say yes often, and go beyond what is expected of you to increase your chances of raising ranks fast. To paraphrase one of the famous black authors, be prepared to reinvent yourself over and over until you find your best fit.

Research, Research, Research

Thanks to technology and innovation, most industries are evolving fast. The role you are interested in filling today may become obsolete tomorrow. You need to keep up with critical industry news at all times. Secondly, when you get interview opportunities, research the company. Understand their goals, their mission and vision, and their clients. This information could help you stand out during the interview as it shows that you are interested in the company.

Practice for Interviews

You may have excellent skills and passion, but with sub-par interview skills, you may not get the chance to show this to your potential employer. Thanks to the internet, there are thousands of guides on how to ace interviews. Read about common interview questions and the best ways to answer them. Also, learn about things not to do at interviews that would give the hiring team the wrong impression of you. For example, avoid asking about benefits and holidays early on.

Focus On the Opportunity, Not the Money

This point goes hand in hand with focusing on the industry, not the job. When you are starting, you may not be paid as much as you want to or think you deserve. After all, you may be settling for an entry-level position. This may be a tough pill to swallow, especially with the high living standards and mounting student debt, but you must. This is not to say that you should take a job that pays you less than the minimum wage. Just be prepared to start small and work your way up. The experience earned along the way should help you ask for more, especially if you get the right type of experience.

Make the Most of Your Connections

Most jobs you apply for will probably have many applicants besides you. It may seem like cheating but don’t be afraid to use your connections to put in the right word for you. Done correctly, it may help you get a quick interview or meeting to showcase your skills and consequently help you get the job.

Be Prepared for Rejections

You may get many rejection letters before you get that yes. And contrary to what you may believe, you may also reject a few opportunities along the way because you don’t feel they are a good fit. Professional companies will send you rejection emails or letters with feedback on why you didn’t get the job. Tweak your resume, applications, and interview techniques in line with this feedback until you get it right and land a good job. Also, try not to take it personally.

Be Patient

This is in line with the previous tip. To be safe, lower your expectations and don’t expect to get a job the day after graduation. Your friend might have, but they are the exception, not the rule. Considering that you may be working for a long time (thirty to forty years before retiring), a few weeks or months of job hunting will not hurt you. You can decide to use this time wisely to make you more employable as time goes by. For example, you can decide to take short certification courses or apply for internship opportunities. The right opportunity for you will come along eventually.

There is a lot you can do as you apply for your first job. Pick up temporary gigs, learn new skills, and build your network. Be open to any new and worthwhile opportunities that come your way. Many people have started by looking for jobs in one industry and ended up in different but more fulfilling industries during their job searching time. This is not to say that you give up on your dream but that you are open to detours.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.