“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Howard Thurman 1899 – 1981, Author, philosopher, theologian and educator
Finding a great first job is a job in itself, it takes time but if you follow these seven steps, you will succeed.
1. Get to know yourself – spend time writing down
- what are you good at (skills)
- what interests you, (your career needs to keep you interested, as well as feed you)
- what is important to you – what are your values
2. Know what you want – imagine one year from now
- where would you like to be
- what is the environment you’re working in
- who are your colleagues
- what are you spending your work time doing?
Having an idea of what you’re aiming for makes it easier to focus your efforts rather than scatter-gunning applications around.
3. Explore what’s out there
- What are the different sectors and industries that are appealing– from tech start-up to law
- Find out what do organisations really do?
- What are their values?
- What are the roles and opportunities? write down what appeals to you
4. Create an action plan
- Finding a job in a job in itself and requires the self-discipline to follow a process and a plan rather than get distracted by external factors. Allocate a regular time each week to job search.
5. Get your personal brand ready.
- Create a master CV (one in skills format, one in chronological format). These will form the basis for you to then create tailored CVs for each application. Make sure your opening statement engages the reader so they want to meet you. Don’t write anything that any of your peers might be able to write.
- Create a one page CV packed with keywords for uploading on job search websites.
- Review your social media and make sure there is nothing negative if potential employers do a search
- Build your profile on LinkedIn with a good photo. Connect with as many people you can from school, family, holiday jobs.
- Create an email alias just for your job search; ensure your email signature includes your contact details including your LinkedIn profile
- Develop a standard paragraph to use when responding to advertisements that can be tailored
- Develop a range of paragraphs that can be used in covering letters
When you know what industries and sectors you would like to work in, see if you have any links who you could have coffee with to find out more about how the sector works, which organisations might be recruiting and what they are looking for. Many jobs are not advertised so keeping your eyes and ears open is key – you’re the one looking!
7. Take Action
- Respond to advertisements where you meet 80% of the criteria – do not talk yourself out of replying. Tailor every approach and follow up
- Apply to companies/people directly with a handwritten covering letter and tailored CV explaining why you’d like to work there and how you could contribute to their organization. Follow up with a telephone call.
- Keep going. You will need tenacity and resilience – there will be set backs but if you are really excited by the prospect of where you’re heading (the jobs you are going for) you will keep motivated. Just like learning to walk or learning to drive – it does take time to get it right, but you will get there in the end!