How to get your first job
We asked training and recruitment expert, Angela Middleton to share her expert insight on how to secure that all-important first job.
1. Do your research – Don’t feel overwhelmed by the number of opportunities and career options out there – see it as exciting. Think about what makes you tick and go from there with your research. Don’t be scared to ask around – your network is bigger than you think! Speak to your friends, family and acquaintances to get first-hand accounts of different career paths.
2. Recruiters – Recruiters are fantastic for helping you in your first job hunt because they search for potential roles and set up interviews on your behalf. It’s important that you do your best to impress the recruiter so they put you forward for the best jobs available. Ensure you are punctual and professional at all times and you will reap the rewards of having a third party support your job search.
3. Be social media savvy – It’s common knowledge that prospective employers will investigate your social channels ahead of meeting you for the first time, so check that each channel gives off the professional impression you want it to. I’m a huge fan of using social media to help you in a business sense, so do update your LinkedIn regularly and engage with your contacts. If you’ve recently graduated or left school, do ensure that your Facebook and Instagram settings are completely private, including past non-professional posts.
4. Dress for the job you want – First impressions are important and your choice of clothing counts for a lot. That doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy anything expensive – always consider the dress code of the office and don’t be afraid to incorporate your personal style. Looking at the company website will often indicate the way their employees present themselves.
5. Essential etiquette – This is your time to really impress so you must be careful to put your best foot forward. Turn off your phone, be five to 10 minutes early and make sure any nerves you might feel aren’t shown on your face.
6. Body language – How you carry yourself is crucial when making a good first impression. Make sure your shoulders are pulled back, hold your head up and present yourself professionally at all times. Make regular eye contact, and if you’re guilty of being over-animated when chatting with friends, keep your hands on your lap to avoid too many distracting hand movements.
7. The importance of your story – Consider the unique circumstances that have led you to this moment and how they can be turned into a compelling story to discuss in your interview. Think about what you’ve done so far and where you’d like to be next and make sure the interviewer knows you have a clear plan.
8. Professional/Personal – Creating a rapport is important but remember you must remain professional at all times. Refrain from being over-friendly and steer clear of any topics that blur the boundaries of personal and professional.
9. Questions to ask – Showing passion and interest during an interview can make a huge difference, and one way of demonstrating this is asking questions about the industry/company/department/role. Don’t feel shy about writing down questions to ask ahead of the interview – it only makes you look prepared. Similarly, if the interview answers all the questions you had, don’t ask anything for the sake of it, politely say that all your queries have been answered, and thank the interviewer(s).
10. Sealing the deal – After your interview, do ask the employer when you may expect to hear further from them and ask for their consent to contact them, should you not hear. Always connect with them on LinkedIn as soon as you leave and drop them a one line note thanking them for the interview. This shows you are enthusiastic and professional, and will help you to stand out from the crowd.
Angela is Founder and Chair of apprenticeship training provider and recruitment consultancy MiddletonMurray .