This is an extremely exciting time in your life because you are about to embark on your first job search and make your debut into the world of work.
Your first job can simultaneously be the simplest, yet most challenging job you may ever attain.
On one hand, most people’s first jobs are entry-level and require little to no experience. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about explaining previous roles and proving your expertise throughout the application process.
On the other hand, proving you’re the best fit for a position with no work experience of any kind poses its own set of challenges. One challenge being that you must prove your worth based on personality and soft skills alone.
If you are like most first-time job seekers and have no idea where to begin, here are some tips to make your entrance into the workforce as smooth as possible:
1. Highlight your unique strengths on your resume.
Work experience is not everything when it comes to securing a job. Employers, especially those hiring for entry-level positions, are often looking for a resume that stands out in terms of soft skills and achievements rather than direct experience. Soft skills are skills that are not necessarily gained through work experience but will often make you a good employee. For instance, communication, organization, time-management, etc. However, don’t just list these skills but explain them using examples. For instance, you could write “highly responsible with experience supervising and taking care of my siblings.” You can also draw attention to special achievements including academic achievements, performance awards, etc.
2. Get some volunteer experience.
People often underestimate the impact that volunteer experience can have on their chances of landing a job. Employers often consider volunteer experience with the same weight as paid work experience. In fact, employers are often looking for employees who have dedicated some of their time to volunteering, as it shows compassion and commitment to bettering one’s community. Therefore, before or during your job search, make sure to take on some volunteer work to boost your resume and add to your professional skills.
3. Don’t underestimate the power of personal connections.
Did you know that over 60% of jobs are found through means other than job-searching online? It turns out that the majority of jobs in this 60% are found through networking. Therefore, be sure to ask your friends, family members, and teachers if they know of anyone that is hiring in the field or fields that you are interested in. Who knows, they could know someone who is, and a personal referral might just land you the job.
4. Ensure your social media is job-search friendly.
Social media can be a fun and creative way to express yourself, not just to friends and family, but to employers as well. More and more employers are considering the content of a job applicant’s social media when deciding whether to hire them or not. Therefore, before you start your job search for the first time, go through your social media and ensure that it sends the message you want it to. This, of course, means not posting and/or removing anything inappropriate from your profiles. However, this can also mean cultivating your online brand by posting specific content and professionalizing your online presence.
5. When it comes to interviewing, preparedness is key.
A good interview comes down to job knowledge and confidence. To achieve job knowledge, get to know everything you can about the employer and position you are interviewing for through online research. An applicant who knows why they would make a good fit for a particular company is one that can convince an employer of the same. To achieve confidence, practice is key. A good interviewer will seem as though they have been interviewed one hundred times and are secure in the answers they provide. As a first-time job seeker, the way to achieve this is to practice common interview questions and go-to answers many times with family and friends or even to yourself in the mirror. If you are unsure of what kinds of questions might be asked, search online for common interview questions or check out some of Creative Therapy Consultants' previous blog posts.
6. Look for jobs that are looking for you.
Often job seekers apply for highly-skilled positions that are way outside their experience range just to see if they can get by on soft skills and indirect experience alone. Although skills and general work experience are important, they will not carry much weight when the role requires years of experience handling specific tools, tasks, or responsibilities. For the first-time job seeker, success will be found when looking for jobs that are entry-level and require little to no experience within the field. Employers hiring for these roles are looking for applicants with no experience like you because they want an employee with a clean slate, who is eager to learn and is excited to join the workforce for the first time.
Written by: MacKenzie Verhelst, BAPsych, CCVE(P)
MacKenzie Verhelst is a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant for Creative Therapy Consultants. MacKenzie is a Canadian Certified Vocational Evaluator with provisional status (CCVE(P)) and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from McGill University. She demonstrates expertise in vocational evaluation, vocational assessment, resume/cover letter development, interview preparation, active job search support, and job sustainment services. MacKenzie is passionate about helping others reach their utmost potential and advocates for finding joy in work. To learn more about Vocational Rehabilitation services, please visit click here.