How nervous were you when interviewing for your first job? Well let me tell you, I was terrified. I made my older sister stay up late going over interview questions with me. When I actually got to the interview I couldn’t remember half of what we practiced.
If you’ve felt like I did don’t worry you aren’t alone, this situation is not uncommon among first time job hunters, such as high schoolers looking for a part time after school job or recent grads hoping to land that dream job.
The key is to throw all expectations out the window, just do away with whatever you are thinking. Okay so some of you are probably giving me the side eye right now. But think about it has life ever really turned out how you wanted it to? For me it hasn’t, that’s not to say it was all gloom and doom but it wasn’t the path I imagined. Below are ways I suggest you use when hunting for a job.
Use it. This is the practice among those with influence or power, of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs. I am not blind to how the workplace operates I have seen many employees come in by way of association. If you know somebody and they are willing to give you a chance take it. It’s like the saying goes “never look a gift horse in the mouth”.
- Always stay busy
If you have time to sit down and relax then you aren’t doing enough. Trust me job searching is exhausting. There are resumes to be printed, thank you cards to be written, follow up phone calls to be made, etc. Keeping yourself busy also keeps your mind from stressing over whether you will get the job or not. Have friends and family read over your resume and make suggestions on how you can tweak it, usually a fresh pair of eyes is all that is needed. Plus there are free sites online and workshops at your college or community center that offer career services.
This is another great way to stay busy and make connections at the same time. If possible volunteer in a field you would like to one day work or something closely related. You never know where it may lead. I know at my place of employment they actually encourage volunteerism and you get paid up to 16 hours per month. It’s possible to even get a company to sponsor where you volunteer, the company gets the exposure and you get to help others. A win, win situation.
- Practice interviewing
I basically kidnapped my sisters and friends and practiced going over questions that related to my field of study in school, questions over the company I was applying for and safe questions to answer about my life outside of work (remember not every question HR asks is appropriate know the boundaries). When you get comfortable with answering questions move on to asking questions. There is usually a window at the end of the interview where the interviewer asks “do you have any questions for me?” If you truly don’t have any questions then state how they have answered everything you were going to ask and give a brief overview of what you wanted to know. If you do have questions be honest, look the person in the eyes when you talk. The thing I’ve learned when there is more than one interviewer is it’s best to give eye contact equally to everyone in the room. This shows you value each person’s input and aren’t unknowingly making anyone feel left out in the process.
- Buy clothes
Most people see a suit and tie and think of a formal event attire or a funeral. The truth is buy clothes for every setting, it’s better to be over dressed than under every time. Now business clothes are not cheap by any means. I suggest going to your local goodwill or thrift store and there is sure to be donated suits, slacks, dress shirts etc. As a rule of thumb have at least one good pant/skirt suit for meetings. I work in a business casual setting but from time to time the big wigs come from corporate fly down and we have mandatory employee meetings. This is when I break out my “good” suit, always dress to impress. It may be just the day that you are introduced to the CEO and you will want to be known for the impression you left, not how unkempt you were.
- Know your worth
Look up job descriptions and industry descriptions so you aren’t blind to what you are walking into. More certainly look up the median pay scale and never be afraid to negotiate pay. I made this mistake when I graduated, I was just happy after four months of job searching I had finally got a call back, that pay never came up. When they told me I was going to be making $30,000/yr I was ecstatic. For a recent college grad I thought I hit the jackpot. Well a few months after I started HR called me to their office and told me they were getting compliant with our sister company and this meant aligning the pay scale. I would know be making $35,000/yr. This made me stop and ponder that I had been working for less than I was worth, granted it wasn’t long but some people go all their life doing work and never getting paid for it. If you don’t get a job because they’re not willing to pay you what you are reasonably worth then you probably wouldn’t have lasted long there anyhow. For women especially we don’t normally bring up pay until we have been doing a job for a while, as if to say “look I can do the job now let’s talk money”. This should be the opposite, a guy friend of my sister’s walked into his boss office and asked for a signing bonus before any worked had been done. He got it, no questions asked. If you know you’re job and are good at it don’t be afraid to speak up from the beginning.
Remember these are the basic essentials you can do when starting a job. The more specialized your career goals then the more specific you will need to engage when searching. Let me know in the comments ways you found that perfect job or what has worked for you when searching?