The First Steps to Finding Your First Job

You never forget your first job! Whether you’re fresh out the gates of school, or still studying, you might be looking to earn a little money for yourself. It can be scary at first, stepping into a new world of responsibilities. But to gain independence and start earning money for yourself? Amazing – Just don’t spend it all too quickly! The question is how do we cross that first hurdle of finding your first job? In this blog, we’ve some great tips to help you when it comes to applying for a job and getting accepted!

Creating a CV

Your Curriculum Vitae (CV) is ‘you’ summed up. Your skills, qualifications, experience, who you are, and how you fit into the position. And all of this must be in 1 to 2 pages max! As this is your first job, that won’t sound hard now. If anything, you may be worried about how to fill a single page. But you have plenty to talk about!

  • About You
    A personal statement is a brief idea of who you are as a person as well as an employee. Include fun stuff like hobbies and interests, maybe even future career goals, but reel it all in on how you’d be a great employee. Also, remember to add contact details like your name, email address and phone number so the employer can reach out to you.
  • Predicted Grades
    Still waiting on your GCSEs or A-Levels? Write down the course you are studying, the awarding body, qualification level, subject, date of completion, and your predicted grade!
  • Experience
    But this is your first job, what experience can you possibly have?! Consider any volunteer work you have done, even at school. If you are still unsure, you can always find small volunteer work around you.
  • Skills
    Take your time thinking about what skills best describe you, as well as what employers you may come across are looking for. A waiter, for example, will need to be a good listener, communicate with a team, and be efficient.
  • Format
    It’s not just the employer’s attention you need to grab, but also the machines. Use easy-to-read fonts, clear headers, and nothing too fancy. A little colour does not hurt, just tastefully done though. CVs should be in PDF or Word format if requested.

Where and How to Apply

Finding your first job can feel daunting if you don’t know where to look. Use online services like Indeed, Reed, or TotalJobs, and apply. Apply everywhere. Apply, apply, apply. Until there are no more jobs to apply for. Then, the next day, apply to all the newly added jobs. Some positions you may be keen to get, in which case you can edit your CV for that role, including keywords found on the application page. Another good trick is to have variants of your CV, one for retail and another for admin.  This may seem impersonal and like throwing as many balls as possible until they finally hit the basket, but that’s exactly what it is. Applying for a job is time-consuming. You will receive a wave of automated responses that begin with the most devastating word, “Unfortunately…’ But stay positive! Think of it as a game and you are playing the odds. Eventually, one shot will get through.

The Interview Process

You landed that first interview, congrats! Now comes the scary bit, speaking with your potential new employer. But if you’re feeling nervous, remember that it goes both ways. An employer needs to impress you just as much as you need to impress them! 

Dress appropriately for the interview. For a minimum-wage retail job, you don’t need to bring out the suit and tie, something smart yet casual will do just fine. But if you are ever unsure, lean more towards formal. Take your time in your answers, it shows your thinking carefully on what to say. Prepare some notes beforehand of yourself, but also the business you are applying for. Check their website or Wikipedia if you can, as well as info on the position. This will also help to form questions, which you can ask at the end. Questions like…

  • “What can I expect on a normal day?” 
  • “Is there room for progression?” 
  • “What are you looking for in a candidate?” 

Congratulations on Finding Your First Job

Applying for jobs is tough but eventually, you’ll land your first job! It may not be the one you thought it’d be, or anything like how you expected it to be, but it’s the first step. Your first day might be a bit confusing, but you’ll get the hang of it.

Make sure to look after yourself too. If you feel something is not quite right, is not in your contract, or feels unfair, speak to someone you can trust like a parent or guardian. Knowing your rights as a worker is important at a young age.

If you would like to learn more about getting that first job, open the Student Toolbox. We have lots of FREE resources, like the videos in Focus on Your Future. Here, we discuss how to use open and closed questions effectively in interviews and ways to avoid really messing up! Go and have a look, get prepared, and you’ll be ready to take on any interview!

For more information on this topic

Listen to our ‘J for Job Applications | Finding Your Ideal Career’ podcast episode.

Z to A of Life Skills Podcast with Mark and Jules Kennedy.

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