Finding Your First Professional Job

**In Collaboration**

One of the main reasons that we enter a program of higher education, whether it is a college course, a university degree or even a PhD is that we believe that it will increase our employment options when we graduate. Perhaps naively, we assume that having an extra qualification will get our CV or application form to the top of the pile and that a job will be waiting for us as soon as we leave school. 

But, this isn’t often the case. Unfortunately, you won’t be the only person with your qualifications, and some of the other applicants might have better results, more experience and more useful connections. Without experience, your qualifications might not mean as much as you’d like, as it’s thought that there can be hundreds of applicants for every graduate job advertised. Many highly qualified graduates find themselves forced to take unskilled work in entirely unrelated fields because they simply can’t secure employment in their profession of choice, and they need to pay their bills. Here are some tips to help you on your way. 


Get Help

You don’t have to go it alone. You can get help from recruitment services or careers advisors. You could take Job Training Courses and register with agencies. You could even hire someone to take a look at your CV. If you don’t have any trouble getting interviews, but you can’t take the next step, even asking a friend to practice interview techniques with you can be a big help. Don’t get stressed out by trying to go it alone; ask for help if you need it. 


Highlight Your Key Skills

It can be hard getting work without experience. But your key skills are important too. You might not have experience in a particular industry, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have any transferable skills which could be helpful in the field. It’s your job to highlight these transferable skills and present them to prospective employers, either on your application forms or your CV. For example, if you worked in a bar to support you financially while you were studying, you cope well under pressure, you work well in a busy environment, you’ve got excellent customer service skills, and you can think on your feet. These are all skills which are helpful in a vast variety of jobs. 

Even if you have never had a job, you might have transferable skills from other areas of life. You’ve studied, so you are clearly organized and great at managing your own time. 


Get Some Experience – It All Counts

Those transferable skills are why it’s crucial to get as much experience as you can. Take work, even if it isn’t what you want to do. Learn from all employment, use your jobs to gain new skills and to learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. 

You might also want to apply for some volunteer work in related industries. This will give you experience, show your commitment and help you to make connections which could lead to employment. 


Tailor Your CV – Never Just Hand The Same Ones Out Everywhere

Many people make the mistake of wandering around, handing CVs out to every business that they can find — clearly handing them from a pile that are all exactly the same. This rarely works. Take your time to research positions. Read job descriptions and tailor your CV to each position and employer. Then, hand it in in person, asking to speak with a manager or the person in charge of recruitment. 


Get Networking – It’s Who You Know

A lot of the time, when it comes to finding that first job, it’s about who you know, not what you know. Volunteer work is a great way to meet the right people, but you can also use LinkedIn, ask people that you know to make connections, and attend networking events and meetings. 


Make a Great First Impression 

There are a few different ways in which you might make your first impression on an employer. It could be when you hand your CV in. It might be when you enquire about work. It could be your CV itself, or it might be when you introduce yourself in an interview. Whenever your first impression is made, make sure it’s a good one. 

Get Your Interview Outfit Just Right

Your interview outfit is more important than you might think, and it shouldn’t be the same for every interview. Try to learn about the company and its dress code. Look at their employees, and try to look as though you fit in with them while making that positive first impression. 

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