Education & Career Trends: Tips For Landing Your First Job

5 min read

Edition: March 17, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

Approach your first job with modesty, embrace a mindset that is open to learning. (Image Credit: Canva)

It is never too early to map out a promising job trajectory. The more time and care you put into your plan, the higher the chances of success. Having a plan makes you more at ease. It removes anxiety about what you should be doing and allows you to be exactly where you are.

Entering the workforce for the first time is a huge transition and can be intimidating. If you are feeling uneasy when you think about your initial steps into the work-world, you’re not alone.

First jobs tend to be at an entry level. The pay you receive may be meager and the tasks may not seem as exciting. This is what most people experience on the path towards attaining their career goals.

Keep a positive attitude and use this time as an opportunity to learn as much as you can. Stay at your first job for at least a year before transitioning to a different company. This not only shows your next employer that you are stable and reliable, but also allows you to get a fuller picture of the job.

Here are some tips for landing your first job:

1. Use your network to get your first role.

  • Finding a job through your current network is the easiest way to land a job.
  • This is especially true when you are entering workforce for the first time and need a strong backing.
  • Consider all your acquaintances with connections and who would vouch for you.

2. Use the career services of your college.

  • Make an appointment with your advisor, check in with the career centre at your college/university, and go to career fairs to find opportunities.
  • In addition, you can increase your network by taking advantage of your school’s alumni database.
  • Career counselors can potentially provide introductions to alumni in similar fields.
  • Your alumni network is a highly valuable resource for landing a job.

3. Take advantage of internship opportunities.

  • If you are in college, check in with your career centre to see what internship opportunities they can connect you with.
  • Google search using the keyword “internship” can also help you find websites that list positions.
  • Additionally, search for internship opportunities within companies you’re interested in.
  • Internship with a company that has a wide brand recognition will add credibility to your resume.
  • Through internships you can gain skills, develop contacts and, most importantly, possibly receive a job offer.

4. Put in effort to go above and beyond.

  • People will take notice of your extra efforts in personal, college and work settings.
  • This may lead to landing a job, faster career advancements, great referrals, and building a positive reputation.
  • It can also lead to opportunities and advancements that haven’t even occurred to you.
  • While applying to a company, you can personally drop a hardcopy of your resume to the hiring manager. This creates a personal connection, making you stand out.
  • If applying to a large company, send an email to the hiring manager introducing yourself.

5. Craft your resume with care.

  • Emphasize your soft skills and highlight transferable experience.
  • List any classes you have taken that relate to the specific job you are applying for.
  • List extracurricular activities such as: clubs, volunteer work, case competitions, hackathons, etc.

6. Articulate your motivation in a compelling manner.

  • You should be able to articulate verbally and in written form why you’ve chosen this career path.
  • You can apply this in places such as your cover letter and LinkedIn profile.
  • Avoid generic ideas.
  • Express what drives your motivation by sharing your personal story, keep it short, honest and compelling.
  • Authentic sharing will have people want to invest in you and your success.

7. Increase your online presence.

To stand out, increase your online presence by doing things such as:

  • writing blog posts
  • building an online portfolio
  • creating a personal website
  • joining online communities and/or contributing good-quality content to posts.

Set up a LinkedIn profile, add the personal brand statement you created and describe what you aspire to do with your career.

It is highly recommended that you get people to endorse you on LinkedIn.

Once you are hired:

You are entering the workforce as a learner and not yet an expert.

If you’re feeling disorientated with a task or workplace dynamics, try to find solutions that are readily available through resources you have access to, such as company documents or search engines.

  • If you are spending too much time doing so, ask for help. It is better to ask for support than to make avoidable mistakes.
  • The company you work for is invested in your success. Your boss and co-workers are there to help you.
  • Approach your first job with modesty, and embrace a mindset that is open to learning.
  • Embracing a learning mindset will help you to build work related skills, understand company dynamics and learn from the people around you.
  • Everyone, from the janitor to the CEO, offers value and plays an important role in creating a thriving business.
  • To be truly successful, be curious about all aspects of the job and the people you work with.
  • Lastly, be respectful of people’s time, as well as your own.

Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

Career Trends: “Humour at work is a critical leadership skill”

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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