Getting your first job can be a struggle, so we thought we’d give you some pointers to help you out! It doesn’t have to be a scary process, and we have plenty of pointers that can help you out. So sit back, don’t worry, and let’s get started!
Making a CV:
Your CV will be the document that speaks for you and introduces you to your potential employer. Many templates are readily available and easy to find online. A good CV should include:
A short personal statement: A short profile to describe your personal qualities and achievements. Convey as much about why you’d be a good employee as possible in a short statement, being concise, not descriptive. You’ll likely be asked for a separate more in-depth statement for some jobs so don’t worry too much about putting everything in this one. Just enough to concisely tell your potential employer what you’re like and why you’ll make a good employee. The National Careers service recommends mentioning these 5 points:
1. Experience – Talking about any relevant experience that’ll show you can do the job.
2. A core certificate/qualification – Depending on what you’re applying for talk about a relevant achievement or qualification.
3. 2 Personal Skills/Qualities – summarise a few key attributes you possess that make you good for the role.
4. A unique Selling Point – Mention something that’ll make you stand out across the other applicants.
5. Your plan – What do you want to be in future? Are you looking to progress in the field you’re applying for? If you have something that you’re working towards it’ll imply you are motivated.
Contact details: Pretty straight forward, include your full name and your telephone and or email, whatever you feel is needed for them to contact you. Some older CV templates suggest putting your address and postcode, but this can be a data protection risk so it’s often safer to only give this if asked for a reason.
Employment: Here’s where you put any work experience you have. This is probably the most important part of the CV. The most frustrating thing when applying for your first job is that most jobs will say they need someone with experience. However, experience is only so important as it proves you can be trusted to work and that’s easy to see when you have held down a job already. This is understandable, but it’s infuriating when you are looking for a first job.
As such, when you’re looking for a first job you need to show you have the skills to do the job in other ways. Are you still in / have you recently left education? Of course your education is an auto include on your CV, but so too are any extracurricular achievements. This will show that not only do you have the ability to do achieve, but you also show you have the work ethic to go above and beyond. Also include details of your work experience week (if you went to school in the UK you likely would’ve done this in year 9 or 10) or any similar equivalent experience that could help you prove that you can work in a professional environment. (E.g: anything you can equate to working with customers, handling money or other relevant employment skills.)
Education and grades: Here’s where you include your past and current education and the relevant grades and qualifications you achieved.
Interests: Include your interests and the skills they have given you, for example, confidence from amateur dramatics or perseverance from sports training. Use this section to sell yourself while giving some potential talking points for your job interview.
Key skills: Describe your key skills that make you the best person for the job. This could range from the transferable skills from hobbies to whatever you can do that’ll make you the best candidate. The skills you include will also show the employer that you understand what skills you know are relevant to the job you are applying for so keep them relevant to the job you’re applying for.
References (If asked for): Finally, some jobs will ask for references from people you have worked for before to confirm you are a good employee. However, if you haven’t worked before this can be concerning. Do you have a good relationship with your teachers? Or perhaps you have a connection in the specific industry? If so, you could include them in your references. But remember to always ask before you put someone down as a reference. Also, if you’re not asked to give a reference you may leave it off the CV but be prepared to send a backup just in case they ask later on.
If you feel daunted by CV writing and want more personal help, look into the resources available via the National Careers Service (for readers in the UK) for further advice. Never feel embarrassed to ask for some help.
Getting your first bit of experience seems like a paradox, and most of the time for more entry level jobs it’s just put down because it’s an easy way to make sure you can do the job. However, places want people for work so It’s always worth applying if you think you are capable! Build your CV to show why you can do the job and there’s always a chance. Job searching is a lot of hit or miss, but the worst that can happen is you not getting the job. And while wasted effort is frustrating, you can learn from a failed interview or rejected application! Also, remember jobs vary: don’t want to work in a shop or an office? Why not look for something more interesting! If retail isn’t your thing what about hospitality? Hotel work for example, or cinema host. There are plenty of roles out there. Look through job sites and set up alerts to be notified for entry level positions that look interesting to you!
Finally, if your CV is good, you may be invited to a job interview so the employer can meet you in person and ascertain more information to see if you’re right for the role. When it comes to job interviews, nervous is normal. Job interviews are intimidating so don’t worry about being anxious. Know what points you want to bring up and put your best foot forward. And finally, don’t give up if it doesn’t work out this time! You’ll find something or something will find you! You got this far!
I hope you find these tips helpful, and remember, don’t be too intimidated. Everyone who has had a job has had a first job, so a LOT of people have gone through this. People will understand if you are stressed and there are people who will be willing to help you. Put your best self forward and present yourself well!
Good luck and Thanks for reading!
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Oliver is a writer and journalist who loves fantasy fiction and table top gaming, with a bit of acting on the side!