How to Land Your First Job in 5 Steps

You’ve been looking forward to this moment for what seems like an eternity. After finishing school, you are now entering the real world. As exciting as it is, this can also be frightening, especially when friends and classmates start receiving job offers. You’re not alone. Find out how to get your first job.

1. Create a shining resume

Your resume’s main purpose is to get you in the door so that you can impress them with your personality. Debra Boggs of D&S Professional Coaching warns that showcasing your creativity in your resume can be a mistake.


To make a resume ATS friendly, use a standard resume format rather than one with graphics or visuals. Modern resumes don’t always work with all systems. Boggs says that “the scanners read the headlines and then parse them out based on their content. They don’t often notice obscure titles.” Laurie Berenson of Sterling Career Concepts says that if you are fresh out of college, the education section and any internships will come first.

You can move the education section to the bottom of the resume after a year or two of full-time experience. Many new professionals believe that applying online or handing out their resumes at job shows is the best way to find a job. However, networking with those who work for your target company is the most effective method. If someone in a position of power likes you, they will make a job for you.

2. Interviews that nail the job

You’ve been invited to an interview. What do you do? Berenson says that you can anticipate many questions the interviewer may ask. Be prepared to answer them. She suggests practicing short, concise answers to questions like:

  • Why would you like to work at this company?
  • What is your educational background in relation to this job?
  • What is it about this job that interests you?
  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • What is a weak point?
  • How did you handle a conflict in the workplace or a group setting?
  • What would your former manager have to say about you?

You can show that you understand the company and its industry by researching their website, social media pages and articles related to it. You can find out if a team member is an alumnus from your school, or shares a common interest or contact.

Boggs says that these touches will help you stand out, even from more experienced candidates. She also suggests visiting sites such as Glassdoor. Not only will you gain valuable insight into the company culture, but you will also learn about salary norms and the interview process.

It’s well worth creating a login to access tons of information for free,” says Boggs. Prepare smart questions that show your knowledge by using this research. Berenson advises that you should keep the conversation focused on finding out more about the role and expressing how excited you are and why it would be a good fit for you. She says to wait until you receive an offer before asking about benefits and vacation days.

Related Article: The Most Basic Interview Questions For a Job

3. You can ask them to show you their money

Now it’s time to talk money, and remember that you want more. It’s now time to discuss money. Remember that you want to get more. “When an organization offers you a position, they have already selected you, and negotiating won’t make them change their minds,” Evans says, adding that he has found that most HR professionals will offer between 8% and 22% below what they are willing to pay.

Boggs suggests that you check out websites like SalaryExpert and Payscale to see what other jobs pay. This will help to avoid accepting a lowball offer. Evans recommends that if, after negotiating the salary, you are still worried about the number, ask for a mid-year review rather than waiting until your anniversary. Look for an excellent retirement and health care plan, such as a 401(k).

4. Rock your first day

It’s important to be on your best behavior when you first meet your new colleagues. Evans says that the energy you show on your first day sets the tone for everyone you work with and meet. This means calming your nervousness and anxiety to concentrate on portraying enthusiasm and willingness.

  • Know your manager’s style of leadership. How they communicate is a key factor. Do they prefer to have a weekly progress meeting in person or send a quick email? Do they prefer certain times to be asked questions? Do you encourage answering emails after business hours?
  • Set achievement goals. If your manager doesn’t help you, find out what she measures success by so that you can align your goals with her expectations.

Avoid making rookie mistakes, such as not understanding the culture of your office. Start slaying your new role.

5. First-job perspective

Berenson says that you should not let your first job define your career. She says that her advice to young professionals should be to not focus on their first job but to see your career as a progression of stepping stones or ladder rungs.

While your first job may not be as glamorous or exciting as you had hoped, it is a good first step in your career. When deciding if a job is a good one, you should consider the opportunities in the field and the employer.


Getting your first job requires you to create a resume that stands out, prepare for interviews, and negotiate a salary with wisdom. Focus on showing enthusiasm and learning about your manager’s preferences. Do not let your first job define your career. Instead, see it as a stepping stone. Take into account the growth opportunities of your employer and their reputation. These steps will help you not only get your first job but also establish the foundation for a successful future.

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