Ambition, excitement, and, unfortunately, sometimes worry follow thoughts of landing your first job. And this happens at different times for different people. Some have their first-job plans down (and follow them) by middle school, while others are struck second-semester senior year. Regardless of what category you fall into, you’re here now reading this article, which is exactly where you should be. You’re okay. YES, there IS still time, and YES, you can do it. Whatever first job goals - they’re possible and within reach.
Truly, the best is yet to come.
Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.
~ Dale Carnegie
Consciously craft your digital presence
There is a reality to landing your first job, which is that recruiters and hiring managers know your digital presence (or lack thereof) says more about you than any resume ever could.
The prominence of your digital presence can be interpreted in many ways. Maybe this is a good thing, maybe not. Be honest with yourself and judge your social media with a simple filter: Does this particular post or picture or comment or whatever shine a bad light on me? Does it make me appear to be someone that I’m not or, even, someone who can be easily misinterpreted? If the answer is yes, you may consider a social media clean.
Alternatively, if you love your online image and it’s not something you want to compromise on or distort in an unnatural way, you can craft an alternative “professional” online identity. For instance, on the one hand, you can have your personal or creative or private accounts on Instagram, Tik Tok, and other “fun” social networks. And on the professional side, you can have LinkedIn, a personal website, possibly Facebook, and other such platforms. Then you can take things a step further by linking all your professional accounts up to a digital business card like Popl, so whenever you’re making a professional connection with someone, you don’t have to say, “connect with me on this social media, but not that one.” You just send them your digital business card, and all the correct professional profile links and profiles can be built right in.
Using Popl you can also have a second version of your card for creative profiles that you don’t want to include on your “professional” card.
Physically putting yourself out there
You can’t underestimate the value of simply putting yourself out there. More than anything, this is a mindset - since you never know when an opportunity may come up. Of course, there are plenty of smart ways to put yourself in the right situations. For instance, by going to networking events or job fairs. But you can also simply be having a nice conversation with someone and share with them that you just graduated and are on the job hunt. Do this with sincerity and without expectations, and you never know the great results that can develop.
Highly Individualized and Custom Outreach
This approach works best if you’re looking to land your first job and have a very clear idea of what you want. For instance, you not only know the industry, you also know the specific company, department, and any position you’ll be in. If your interests are this specific and targeted, you should naturally take a more specific and targeted approach.
An approach like this can involve looking into the hiring managers or recruiters who work for the company you’re interested in, and then seeing what sort of parts of the company THEY are interested in. For instance, maybe a hiring manager posts on LinkedIn about how she is the company you’re interested in has such a great culture. If this is something you can relate to, mention it in your application or direct outreach. “I saw your post about COMPANY’s great corporate culture. That is one of many things that I find so appealing about working at…” You get the idea. Take the time to send quality, thoughtful emails and refine your application in a way that is not only clean and professional but which also puts on top of some of your personal flavors.
More first job landing tips
Create a great resume
Start with a template if you have to, but make sure you take the time to create a resume (and, likely, a LinkedIn profile) that is error-free and looks great. Consider customizing it for each job you apply to. If the job is more geared toward marketing, highlight those aspects of your resume that seem most relevant to marketing and describe your interests and skills in a way the particular recruiter would be looking for.
Go to in-person networking events
Network, network, network. Get connected with as many people as possible, especially those who work in the industry or field you’re interested in. Follow companies and recruiters on social media, and connect with them online. Attend career fairs and networking events, and bring your digital business card. The more people you know, the more likely it is that someone will think of you when a job opens up.
Get involved. Volunteer, join student organizations related to your field of interest, or start your own club or organization. Getting involved shows that you’re passionate about what you want to do and that you have leadership skills. These are qualities that employers value.
Build your (personal) online brand
Build your brand. You don't have to be a famous influencer to have an impressive online brand. Start a blog or website related to your field of interest, or become active on social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn. Share articles, blog posts, and other relevant content that will show you’re knowledgeable about your chosen industry. This will also help you build a network of contacts who can help you find a job.
Prep for common interview questions
Be prepared for the interview process. If you get an interview, congratulations! You’re one step closer to getting the job. Now it’s time to prepare for the interview so you can make the best impression possible. Research the company ahead of time and be ready to talk about why you’re interested in working there. Review common interview questions and practice your answers. The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to get the job.
Additional resources to help you land your first job
If you’ve read this far then it’s important to note that next and most important thing you can do is take action. You know enough to start. So start with a single step forward. Choose a strategy which you find the most appealing and simply start taking steps forward. Pivot whenever you need to. Sideways moves are just as critical as forward ones. If you’re moving forward – even in a zig-zag, you’re still moving forward – and that is how you not only reach goals, but also enjoy the varied path to success. Accept the reality, and then you can start to enjoy it. Once you’re enjoying the process of landing your first job, you have guaranteed success.
With that said, if you’re looking to explore additional resources on the topic of landing your first job for reasons of curiosity, and not procrastination cloaked in research, then here are some great, openly available resources:
The future is bright. Take steps toward your goals and keep calm. And also enjoy the time you spend looking for and landing your first job, it’s an interesting and exciting time.