Stepping out into the jobs market – what’s your first step?

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  • If you’re looking for your first job and feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to remember that you are most definitely not alone. More people are graduating from college now than ever before, increasing competition. At the same time, recent global economic changes over the past decade have redistributed jobs and weakened economies, making it more difficult for many people to find work, especially when looking for their first jobs. No longer can one expect to step out directly into a job after university. However, when job hunting, it’s important not to be discouraged. You need to maximize your chances of finding a job by organizing your search, marketing yourself, and utilizing resources. Let’s look at some of the ways to do this:

    Identifying your skills

    You may have never held a steady job, but chances arethat you have some type of work experience, whether it was a summer job in high school or academic work in college. You should think about how these previously acquired skills can translate into future work. Identify your skills and think about the jobs that require them. If you are still in school, your university probably offers internship placement services that can help you get a foot in the door. If you have just graduated, you most likely already thought about all this during your studies. Once you have determined your desired industry, it’s time to research it. Find out what the companies you will apply for do on a day-to-day basis. By the time you’re ready to interview, you should be something of an expert on the company’s operations. It can really impress a potential employer if they know that you have taken the time to read up on the company. Also, it will give you an idea of what skills they are looking for. You can “reverse engineer” what type of person they are looking for based on what they are already doing. It might be useful to talk to people in the industry and get a feel for what their strong points are; you’ll want to illustrate these later in your CV.

    Building a CV

    The curriculum vitae, or CV as it is more commonly referred, is the single most important part of the hiring process. Before you ever speak to a potential employer, they will see your CV. This means that your CV is your first impression, and the most powerful statement you can make. Different fields require slightly different CV formats, but the basic idea remains the same. You want your CV to showcase your abilities and achievements. It should be an authoritative document. After all, who else is the authority on “you,” if not yourself? Usually, you’ll want to begin your CV with a brief, strong, and concise personal statement or outline describing your strengths and goals in broad terms. It’s up to you whether your education history or employment history comes next. If this is your first job (or first “real” job), you’ll list your education first since that is the most important thing. You’ll want your CV to illustrate your most impressive message first. Look on the Internet for examples of strong CVs, and copy the formatting that they use. Remember, you might want to make minor changes in your CV for each job you are applying for. Think about what the job wants, and then make changes to highlight the ways that you fit the description. You will probably want to conclude your CV with a personal interests and/or other relevant information section. This could pique the interest of whoever is reading it, but remember that your CV should be short; desirable employers receive countless CVs, so you need to make a quick impression. Keep it less than two pages, unless a job specifically asks for something more detailed.

    Employment agencies

    There are many companies, called recruitment agencies or employment agencies that specialize in finding people jobs. It is their job to sort through thousands of CVs and fill job openings for their clients. These can be a great tool if you are open to possibility. Agencies might not be able to find your dream job in your dream location, but they should be able to find something, and realistically, straight out of college, you probably won’t be landing your dream job. For this reason, recruiters can be a great way to land your first job. Research recruiters in your area, or, if the location doesn’t matter, check online for jobs all over the world.

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