In the world of networking, you may be a newbie. You have some practice under your belt, talking with companies and building a resumé, all thanks to your classes or a local career fair. You also know or have a pretty good idea of what you want to do for a living. But, you’re still in the learning phase of your professional life. That’s OK — everybody has to start somewhere. If you’re applying to jobs for the first time, you just need to take a few things into consideration before hitting the "submit" button.
Truth is, this process isn’t straight and narrow. But, the end result is always really rewarding and worth the time and effort. You’ll likely spend a lot of time finding positions that you’re interested in, and going on interviews. You’ll run practice questions through your head while taking a shower, and rack up a lot of business-casual clothes in your closet. It’s all part of starting your career and manifesting your ambitions and dreams. (And that’s something to be excited about.)
However, just like trying anything else for the first time, you need to know a few things before applying to jobs. One day, you won’t be the new kid on the block, but for now, consider these seven things, and seek out some words of wisdom.
1The Layout Of Your Resumé
Making your resumé easy to read is essential. If it looks messy or disorganized, then your potential future employer will likely move on. (Not to mention, it says a lot about how you will work as an employee.)
So, take some time before hitting the "submit" button to find a good layout. There are a ton of templates online that you can use, or create yours based on a friend’s.
Highlight what makes the most sense for you, and the positions that you’re applying to. Normally, your current experience and education take a prime spot on the paper. But, some creative jobs may want to see your social media handles as well.
2Your Personal Brand
One of the best ways to land an interview is to create a personal brand. You do this by being consistent with the design elements, like colors and fonts, or things that you highlight about yourself in every part of your application.
For example, you may create a header that appears on the top of your resumé and cover letter — something that shows off your personality, while still being professional. You may also use and repeat a few phrases that sum up who you are as person.
When all is said and done, you’re marketing yourself, and making sure that you stand out amongst all of the other applicants.
3Your Current Experience
There’s a lot to be said for the experience that’s already under your belt — the classes you’ve taken, internships you’ve landed, organizations you’ve volunteered with, or side jobs you’ve done up until now. When you’re applying to jobs for the first time, let this experience shine and talk about how it’s made you who you are. Odds are, being a camp counselor or working in retail shaped you in some way that makes you more qualified for the job you’re aiming for.
Highlight this experience near the top of your resumé, and speak to it in emails, cover letters, and interviews as well. Be humble about where you made mistakes, and make it clear that you’re ready to embrace the next chapter, too.
4Your Opportunities For Growth
Being able to grow in a company or industry is important for your career. You want to make sure that the positions you’re applying to are true opportunities — and that you’ll walk away with some kind of knowledge or experience that benefits you.
It’s very possible that the first job you land isn’t going to be your dream job, and that’s totally OK. As long as this position is a good stepping stone or teaches you something that you could use later on, then you’re good to go.
5Your Work Environment
When you’re applying to jobs, ask yourself the question: "Where do I work best?" Some people want to work in that traditional office setting. They love sitting in a cubicle because it helps them focus and have the ability to collaborate with anyone in the room. For others, a remote job is a better fit. They enjoy the flexibility and portability of working from a laptop or space in their home.
So, think about what type of environment would be best for the way you work. What will motivate you to produce something that you’re passionate and ambitious about? When you find the answer, search for positions that allow for that.
6Your Grammar And Spelling
One word: proofread. The last thing that you want is to send out an application that doesn’t make sense or has simple spelling errors because you didn’t look it over. In class, your professors or teachers probably stressed all the time that you should read through your essays before submitting them — maybe you ignored that advice, and maybe you didn’t. Either way, make it a habit when you’re applying to jobs.
Consider having a friend or family member read over your resumé and cover letter before you move forward. Sometimes, having that second set of eyes on the paper will help you find errors or points that could be clearer, that you wouldn’t have seen yourself.
The one thing most people don’t talk about the application process is the potential for rejection. In my experience, more often than not, you’re not going to hear back from an employer. You will send follow-up emails and work your connections, and for some reason, things just won’t fall into place.
Now, nobody likes being rejected, which is probably why this frustrating part of the process isn’t talked about. But, knowing that you could apply to 50 jobs and only hear back from a few is a good thing to know before leaping into your professional life.
Take breaks if you need to, and know that everything happens for a reason. The right job will come along, and when it does, you’re going to be stoked from the second you hit the "submit" button.
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