Getting your first job. Probably one of the most difficult things you will stumble upon when you are building your career bottom-up. Initially, it’s easy to think that we’ll have a harder time getting the second or the fifth job because as we move forward in our careers, everything just gets harder and a little bit trickier. But sometimes, landing our first job is as equally challenging, if not more.
How do you write your first resume? How do you respond to interview questions? How will you know what to write or say, or more imporantly, what not to. What are companies exactly look for? How do you not only work hard but work smart when looking for employment opportunities?
You see, experience matters. All of these will get relatively easier once you get the hang of it. You will learn from mistakes you’ve made in your first experiences and work your way towards improvement in the next challenges.
But with your ‘firsts’, how exactly do you start?
And that’s why we’re here to help today! From writing resume to how to prepare for job interviews, we’ll work on all of these things one by one together and also on what you should take note of in getting your first job.
Of course, first things first. In every job application, your resume is your primary weapon. Most of the time, companies use resumes as their main and initial basis to determine whether they’ll offer you a second assessment or a personal interview. And even during these evaluations, they’ll have your resume right on their hands as they try to get to know you, your credentials, and your qualifications further.
This makes writing your resume a fundamental, if not the most crucial step you’ll need to take in getting your first job.
Now, to write and structure your resume in the best way possible, it’s important to know what exactly is a resume’s essence, function, and overall goal.
A resume is a document summarizing your employment history, educational background, skills, credentials, and qualifications that are specifically focused or related to the particular job you’re applying to. This type of resume can also be called a functional resume where you only put in points that are relevant to a particular job.
So let’s say you’re applying as a content creator and a video editor. What you can include in your resume to increase your chance for a second assessment will be your educational and professional background in relation to content creation and video editing.
You can also include certifications to compensate the lack of relevant work experience if you do not have a more formal background in the field.
And of course, don’t foget to include the skills that can be of great use to the position. While most companies prefer employees with years of academic and professional experience related to the job, sometimes they will still take a chance on applicants with lesser or even no experience.
It also does not hurt to write a few other things, such as your talents, hobbies, and interests in the resume. But remember that it’s important to make your resume as concise and remarkable as you can. Try not to surpass two pages and write information that can help the employer be more efficient in assessing your qualifications.
Unless the company asked for a Curriculum Vitae (CV), which in contrast to a resume, it encompasses of all of your educational and employment experiences, it’s best to keep your resume short, but comprehensive.
It’s also worth noting that you will need to revise your resume if you’re sending out various applications to different companies with unique job postings. Unlike a CV which can be widely used, your resume should be more specific to the company and job position you are applying to.
Now that you know the essence of a resume, let’s move on to a few tips and tricks you can use to structure it properly.
Structuring your resume into sections and subheadings will make it more organized. It will can make it easier for your potential employer to scan and assess information they are looking for, such as your academic training and employment history.
These are some of the most common and important parts you can put in your resume.
It’s not exactly something all employers look for, but giving them some kind of a ‘formal pitch’ can help establish a quick overview about yourself---which, in a few cases, might even make you stand out.
If you don’t have a formal background relevant to the job’s nature, you can stillwrite additional experience that is related to the job. For example, if you’re applying for the position as a researcher, you can cite papers you’ve written before or research studies you’ve worked on.
Moving on, let’s tackle on a few technicalities you should take note of when writing your resume. These will be more concerned on your resume’s physical appeal which is actually taken for granted most of the time. While it’s just some kind of front aspect, it can still tell a lot about you. Choosing the right font style and size can make a significant difference.
Overall, you need to make sure that your resume looks as professional as you claim in your credentials and qualifications. Imagine having 10 years of experience in a world-renowned institution but provide a resume with unproportional formatting. It will not exactly be a great sight.
So take time to work on it. Research on color. Highlight important sections of your resume by using larger fonts. Don’t use unreadable font sizes and styles.If printing it, make sure that you use paper of good quality. It doesn’t have to be over the top (like scented contruction papers with subtle flower prints on them) but make sure they don’t feel flimsy or too thin. Also make sure that they’re protected with a folder to prevent creases or stains.
When you’re done drafting your resume, it’s always good to ask help from others (especially from professionals) to give you a secondary perspective on your resume’s content. Sometimes, you may miss a few typos or important information. So let others scan it and help you make the appropriat edits.
Well, this section was a long one but don’t feel overwhelmed. As we’ve mentioned, your resume is crucial. So be generous with your time in drafting and polishing it and make adjustments you see fit along the way.
You’ll get the hang of it and in the end you’ll be surprised and excited when you are invited to your first interview!
Moving on to the next section: after giving out your resumes, you’ll hopefully receive a few offers for a job interview. So what should you expect? What should you say? What are some of the preparations you need to work on?
Let’s start with your clothes and physical appearance. Just like your resume’s front aspect, how you look and dress up can speak a lot in a job interview. Your general appearance will be the first thing they’ll see from you, and well, first impression lasts. So invest on formal business clothes that can give you a boost in establishing a professional look.
The most commonly asked questions in a job interview are those you can easily prepare for. These questions include:
These are some of the standard questions at the beginning. There will also be follow ups on your resume, again stressing the importance of a good resume.
Sometimes, you will be asked questions that are almost unpredictable or even surprising. While it’s not possible to know exactly what questions you will be asked, you can still learn what NOT to say in your answers and how to deliver your answers in general.
As you may already know, it’s important to show confidence in a job interview. But it can get tricky. In a nutshell, don’t go beyond or below confidence that it becomes either boastfulness or passivity. You want to maintain your stance somewhere in the middle while showing professionalism. You can do so through physical appearance (your clothes, like we’ve discussed) and your delivery (or body language).
Most companies expect you to have done some research about them so make the effort to spend time reading about the company, goals and achievementsEmployers appreciate perseverance and thoroughness on details. Sometimes, they may measure this by asking what you know about them - their hallmark products, services, operations, etc.
Researching about the companies you want to apply to can also help you limit the resumes you submit. By carefully pinpointing the ones you really are interested in, you can lessen your applications and allow yourself more time to prepare.
It’s also best to leave out personal information about yourself (like childhood stories, bizarre experiences, your love life, or things that are too private to disclose in a professional context) unless your interviewer asked you specifically or if you think it can somehow give justice to the answers you give.
Overall, job interviews are your chance to stand out from a pool of competition. So learn how to be proactive, memorable, and leave a significant print.
Part of looking for your first job, as we’ve said, will not be a walk in the park.
Writing resumes and preparing for interviews will require a lot of your energy, and at one point you’ll feel burned out. More often than not, it’s quite rare to land a job through the first resume you sent and the first interview you went to. So you’ll need to just try and try and try and train yourself in the process. Still, even with such efforts, it is still possible that you can’t quite seem to land on a job. To some people, this can be stressful and can cause them to lose motivation.
For beginners who are just about to enter the workplace, this is an issue that is not addressed a lot but can actually affect everyone significantly. For you to write your resumes properly and prepare well for your interviews, you’ll need to start with a little flame of motivation. So always keep your emotions in check.
Don’t get pressured for not landing a job in the first few tries. A few slip ups will not hurt that much. Don’t let failed interviews humiliate or discourage you. Take pride in your qualifications and show them with professionalism. Don’t give up.
And finally, and most importantly, don’t just work hard, work smart.
You’ll land that first sweet job in no time!