How to Get Your First Job in 7 Steps (With Job Search Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 24, 2022

Published November 5, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Whether you're starting your career or looking to become more independent, entering the workforce for the first time can be an exciting experience. Regardless of your preferred industry, you typically need resources to navigate your job search successfully. Learning about the steps to get your first job can help you find an exciting role quickly and secure the position. In this article, we explain how to get your first job, discuss why getting a role you enjoy is important, provide tips for your job search, and present seven good first jobs to consider.

How to get your first job

If you're ready to start your job search, follow these steps on how to get your first job:

1. Reflect on your short- and long-term goals

Consider why you want a job, such as to make money or start an exciting career. Reflecting on your short- and long-term goals can offer you direction when searching for a job. For example, if you're looking to begin a profession, you can focus on entry-level roles to gain valuable experience and develop your skills.

2. Set your expectations

Next, be clear on what searching for a job entails. While it's important to look for roles that align with your goals, ensure you qualify for them. For example, suppose your goal is to get a high-paying job. As these roles typically require advanced qualifications, you can first target entry-level sectors, such as retail, or prioritize jobs related to your academic background. Setting expectations also requires you to understand your industry. For example, suppose you're looking for a job in a competitive industry. You may apply to multiple companies to increase your chances of getting the job you desire.

3. Build your network

Maintaining professional relationships with your contacts can help your job search. Talk to your friends, career coach, mentor, and family members, and let them know you're looking for a job. You may receive referrals to open positions, useful advice for your job search, or inspiration to get a job. You can also organize informational interviews with professionals in your chosen field. An information interview is a conversation with an individual in an industry, role, or position that interests you.

Related: Top 5 Networking Skills and How to Develop Them

4. Prepare your application documents

In nearly every industry, you typically need a resume and cover letter to apply for available positions. These application documents are useful for showcasing your skill set, experience, and educational background.

As your resume and cover letter can impact whether you advance to the next hiring stage, you want to make them compelling and engaging. Include your volunteer experience and discuss transferrable skills to show you're a promising candidate for the role. Transferrable skills are qualities you can apply in nearly every position, such as communication, teamwork, and interpersonal skills. You may also submit a portfolio, which contains recent projects you completed.

Related: High School Resume Template (With Example and Tips)

5. Research job opportunities

Complement your networking efforts by researching open positions. You can visit job posting sites, cold call employers, and connect with recruiters on professional networking platforms. The government also provides many resources for you to find a job quickly. For example, if you're a student, you may find job opportunities on its student employment web page. You may also discover opportunities to work for the federal government on its website or search for jobs posted by employers across the country. Consider using social media channels and visiting company websites for job opportunities.

Related: 11 Good First Jobs for College Students That Pay Well

6. Prepare for and attend the interview

An interview is a meeting where you answer questions about your qualifications and personality traits. Once you receive an invitation for one, start practicing questions an interviewer may ask you. Review the job description to understand what qualities an interviewer may look for in an ideal candidate. Building a professional connection with the interviewer can help leave a positive impression on them. For example, try to remember the interviewer's name and address them with their preferred title.

7. Follow up after the interview

Consider maintaining contact with the hiring manager or recruiter after the interview. Doing this can help you get the job and show your enthusiasm for the position. You can write an email appreciating the hiring manager for their time and consideration, especially if the interview went well. Follow up with potential employers by offering them additional reasons to hire you.

Related: How To Get a Job With No Experience (With Helpful Tips)

Why is getting a good first job important?

A good first job offers adequate pay and enables you to learn on the job. Getting one can provide valuable skills and experience you need for career development. By getting a job you enjoy in a company that offers growth opportunities, you are more likely to progress quickly in your career. Aim to maintain contacts from your first job as you advance in your career and apply valuable career insights you learn.

Tips for getting your first job

Here are the best practices for searching for your first job:

  • Align your application documents to each position: Check that your resume, cover letter, and portfolio contain relevant information for the job.

  • Show how you can contribute to the hiring company: Prioritize the company's needs by positioning yourself as an asset.

  • Proofread your application documents for errors: Review your resume, cover letter, and portfolio to correct grammar and spelling errors.

  • Dress appropriately for interviews: Research the dress code of the hiring organization and wear appropriate clothing to the interview. Business casual clothing is generally acceptable for interviews.

  • Attend job fairs: These are networking events where you can meet potential employers and learn more about available positions. Research job fairs online and try to find out which companies would attend.

Related:

  • 10 Job Search Tips to Use if You Need Help Finding a Job

  • How to Apply for a Job in Person (and When It Can Help You)

  • How to Apply to Jobs Online in 16 Actionable Steps

7 good first jobs to explore

Depending on your professional interests and qualifications, here are exciting jobs you can get when entering the workforce for the first time:

1. Customer service representative

National average salary: $16.46 per hour

Primary duties: A customer service representative supports customers by answering questions, solving problems, and handling orders. They also share information about products and services, process customer orders and returns, and document customer interactions. Customer service representatives typically use a telephone or computer system to communicate with customers.

2. Web designer

National average salary: $24.05 per hour

Primary duties: A web designer creates the visual elements of websites and applications. They design layouts for landing pages and tests functional designs to determine which is most effective. Web designers typically collaborate with copywriters, graphic designers, software developers, and project managers to create a functional website or application.

3. Data entry clerk

National average salary: $17.90 per hour

Primary duties: A data entry clerk is an administrative professional who enters or updates data in a computer system. Depending on where they work, they may be responsible for collecting data, reviewing and sorting records, and managing databases. Data entry clerks need attention to detail and computer literacy skills to complete their clerical tasks.

4. Cashier

National average salary: $14.17 per hour

Primary duties: A cashier processes cash, debit, and credit transactions from customers. They also balance tills to ensure accurate payments and make changes for customers. Cashiers typically work in retail stores, restaurants, and supermarkets.

5. Graphic designer

National average salary: $21.68 per hour

Primary duties: A graphic designer creates visual content in print and digital form for individual clients or businesses. They create logos, images, digital illustrations, and posters. While graphic designers may gain employment in publishing, advertising, and public relations agencies, they often work independently as freelancers or contractors.

Read more: Understanding Entry-Level Jobs

6. Inventory clerk

National average salary: $16.79 per hour

Primary duties: An inventory clerk, or an inventory associate, tracks products and supplies in a store or warehouse and handles orders to facilitate sales or production. They also count the available products in facilities and reorder inventory whenever required. Inventory clerks may be responsible for completing quality checks and reporting inventory discrepancies to the inventory manager.

7. Financial analyst

National average salary: $58,608 per year

Primary duties: A financial analyst evaluates the financial condition of a business or asset and provides recommendations to customers or executives. They predict the performance of investments, such as stocks and bonds, by gathering data on economic trends and the industry. Financial analysts typically prepare financial reports to show their conclusions.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, location, and academic background.

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