How to get your very first job

Girl in school uniform illustration cartoon

© The Shortlisted

When your time as a student is nearly over, you will probably start getting extremely anxious about how you’re going to find a job in such a crowded market.
But don’t worry: it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think.
Here are my 9 flash tips on how to find your first graduate job.

9 Tips to find your very first job

1: Start networking

Start building up relationships while you’re still in college. Visit your university’s employment office and see if there’s anyone available you can meet with for advice in your chosen industry. Even ask friends and family, as they might well have the right connections. You never know who might have a job ready for you.

2: Apply for everything

When you see a job that could be a good fit for you, go for it and apply. It’s easy to just brush off an advert by thinking that you’re not quite right for it, but you’ll never know if you don’t apply. Even if you don’t get through, you may well be considered for another role.

3: Try freelancing

Depending on the career you want to build, freelancing could be an option. You can start freelancing while you’re still studying, which will help you get some experience before you go out for full-time roles. For example, if you want to get into copywriting, you can try signing up with a writing service.

4: Dress to impress

When you finally get an invitation, make sure you know how to dress appropriately for the job interview. Show that you’re serious about getting that job and that you’re serious about working hard. If you can, try to find out what the company’s dress code is like, and then act accordingly.

5: Prepare your CV

If you don’t have a resume yet, now it’s time to write a good CV. If you’re struggling, talk to friends who already have one, or talk to your careers office. A great CV will get you far, so don’t neglect this important step.

6: Use all the help that’s out there

You’re not alone in your job search. You can count on the careers service at school, your friends and family, and even online sources. Use all the help that’s out there for you. Job seeking can get you rather lonely, so make sure you have a support network in place.

7: Be patient

Job seekers rarely get the first job they go for. You’ll probably be applying for lots of roles before you even get a job interview. Be patient, keep applying, and your chance will come. This is why it’s so important to start looking now, while you’re still studying.

8: Don’t panic about job interviews

A job interview isn’t an interrogation. It’s just as much about you examining the company, as them examining you. Remember, they can offer you the job, and you can say no if you don’t think it’s a good fit. Use it as an opportunity to establish a relationship with them, and see what makes the company tick.

9: Get feedback

If possible, get feedback from all your job interviews. This is especially important if you don’t get the job. They should be able to tell you what wasn’t right about your experience, or how you came across in the interview. You can use such feedback when you go on to future interviews. However, some recruiters won’t answer emails or give you the feedback you need, so be prepared for this.

Understanding how to get your first job isn’t that long, hard slog you think it is. It takes some hard work and persistence, but it can be done. Just show companies that you’re eager and willing to learn, and you’ll go far.

★ For more advice for early career job seekers, also see The Graduate Dream and how to decide what to do after school

About The Author

Journalist & creative writer

Rachel Summers is a British journalist, local newspaper reporter, freelance creative writer and editor. She is a writer of UK Top Writers.