6 Tips for First Time Job Seekers

There’s no denying that searching for a job is stressful—especially if it’s your very first time doing it. With all the job sites and deadlines and well-meaning advice, it can be completely overwhelming. But there’s a method to the madness once you take a deep breath and figure out the process. Read on for some tips to keep in mind as you get started on launching your very own career.


1. Use your campus resources

You paid good money to go to college, so make sure you take advantage of their career services office before you go. Attend everything from resume workshops to job hunt seminars to career fairs in order to make sure you’re at the top of your game once you graduate. Whether your questions are more general or industry specific, this is literally what university career centers are for—to help make sure you’re prepared in every way possible to go out and get your first job.

2. Keep an eye on the time

Senior year of college can be a busy time, and it becomes even busier when you consider that you need to start applying for jobs while also focusing on finishing up your classes and exams. Career Group Companies recommends applying for jobs one to two months before graduation, since most fields won’t want to wait much beyond that to fill their vacant spot. The exceptions to this, however, are “high-demand industries like investment banking, consulting, and accounting.” In those cases, you’ll likely want to apply earlier in the school year.

3. Workshop your resume

Keep in mind that, while high GPAs are great and internship experience can be extremely valuable, they are not necessarily items that will make or break your resume. Instead, focus on using action-oriented language and making sure your resume is completely free of any typos or misspellings. Take it to your campus career center if at all possible, since having it read by a pair of objective eyes is key. At the very least, ask a trusted friend to take a look. There are various styles of resumes out there, so do some research, and determine which style is right for you and the position you’re seeking.

4. Adjust your attitude

While this may be easier said than done, try not to look at job searching as a chore that you have to get through. Instead, CNBC suggests focusing on all the opportunities that lay before you as you set off on your own for possibly the very first time. View the process as an adventure you can tackle with determination and enthusiasm. Don’t get discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t pan out…or your second, or your third. Keep in mind, the whole job hunt is a process that will eventually lead you to an exciting opportunity if you give it a chance.

5. Network

Possibly the most important (and oft repeated) suggestion, networking is vital to finding the job you want. Whether it’s through LinkedIn or attending in-person networking events—the important thing is that you put your face and name out there in a big way. Networking is arguably just as important as resumes when it comes to finding the right role.

6. Don’t worry about your passion

While some people have had their “dream job” in mind for years, don’t feel pressure to immediately find one you love. Think more long term, and consider what type of opportunity the job will give you to hone your skills during your time there. Since most entry-level jobs aren’t the most interesting, it’s important to look beyond in order to find value.

Finding your first job is one of the biggest hurdles you’ll have to cross in your life. But it doesn’t have to be the hardest. Take it one step at a time, and don’t hesitate to ask for help from those around you. Just remember: There’s a whole wide world out there, so don’t be afraid to explore it.

Search for your next job now:


Back to listing

The Washington Post Jobs Newsletter

Subscribe to the latest news about DC's jobs market