How to Land Your First Job

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For many fresh college graduates finding employment in today’s times is a difficult feat. With the unemployment rate hovering around 9.0%, companies have their pick when it comes to hiring people and that has certainly made things even harder for those who have yet to gain any job experience.

If you are reading this article, I suspect you have already tried the traditional ways of looking for a job, such as networking, career centers, job boards and haven’t had much luck. You’re looking for more ideas. What I am going to share with you is not only some creative tips, but also an approach that you can take in order to create a long lasting rewarding career, not just land another job:

  1. Find your ideal work and then look for a job: You know why most people change jobs so quickly and still find themselves unhappy? It is not because they didn’t get the right salary or perfect boss or colleagues, but because they are not excited about the job that they are in. They go from one company to the next thinking their next job will be better, that more perks or a bigger title, perhaps a change in environment, will bring more happiness. They spend some time and quickly find out that was not the case. Years go by and before you know it, they are in their 40s and 50s. And yes, on paper they may have a great resume, but inside they feel burnt out and lost, stuck in a job that pays the bills but doesn’t do anything else for them. What if you didn’t have to get to this place? What if you could plan your career better, where it not only brought an income, but also fulfillment and joy?  If you are interested in creating a meaningful career, don’t just focus on finding any job, instead identify your ideal work first and then look for an appropriate job. When I say ideal work what I mean is identifying what you would love to do for years to come— something that you feel strongly drawn to and based on that, create your job search. First jobs are important, as they set the tone of the path you’re likely to continue on, so it’s better to give it your careful consideration.
  2. Get creative: Many people restrict their options by thinking there is only one or two ways to find their ideal job, and when they don’t get it they get discouraged. But in order to find something that you enjoy, you are going to have to broaden your thinking and get creative.  Look at all the possible ways that you can take to express your passion or interest. For example, if you thought of becoming a veterinarian because you love working with animals and for some reason you can’t, does it mean your dream job will never happen? No. You may just have to look at it more broadly. You could find a position in the vet’s office, work at the zoo, animal shelter, start your animal care business, become a dog walker or take care of pets and so forth.
  3. Why should someone hire you: Yes, that is the question that you must think about if you’re looking to get hired, even if it’s for the very first time. Often hiring is not just about the education and resume alone. It’s also about what you bring to the table, how can you be of value to your prospective employer? Research the company and look for ways to stand out and how your presence there will benefit them.
  4. Can’t find a job? Then use your time to volunteer: Some experience is always better than no experience, and remember jobs can often come from unexpected quarters. Volunteering is one such avenue. While you are still working on finding a real job, explore your options and see if you can find the right kind of work in the right kind of volunteer organization. Now what do I really mean by that? It means looking for the kind of work that you are interested in so that you can network, as well as help you gain relevant experience.
  5. Is there a hidden entrepreneur inside of you? There are so many young people in their 20s who have started successful companies; they didn’t have a lot of work experience; and they didn’t work several jobs before venturing out on their own. Instead, they had an idea and they went with it. Could that be you? If you are having trouble finding a job that you like, I say create your own job.
  6. Don’t forget start-ups and small business entrepreneurs: Most tend to focus on finding jobs with larger corporations, but that is not where all the opportunities lie. Consider looking at start-ups and small business entrepreneurs who may need your help.
  7. If it’s not working out, step back: In the past six months or more if you have been seriously looking for a job, going to job fairs, applying on job boards, networking and nothing is really working out, then maybe it’s time to step back, get creative and add some new manoeuvres to your strategy. Try and see if you can come up with some new ideas or even things you would like to pursue instead of what you are currently focusing on.

In the end, please remember that there isn’t one way of looking for a job. People find employment in all sorts of ways, so don’t be afraid to explore what works for you. While you continue your search using traditional ways, such as networking and applying via job postings, broaden your thought process to include what else you can do that others may not be doing.