7 Ways to Conquer Your First Job Hunt

By Erin Coursey, iHire | September 13, 2016

Woman sitting at her desk at her first job

The transition from school to workforce can be challenging at best and overwhelming at worst. Make yourself competitive with other recent graduates and more experienced job seekers with these seven tips.


1. Use Your Resources

You might feel like you’ve been thrown into the “real world” without a clue what to do next, but never fear: you have many supports available to help get your feet off the ground. Your high school or college career department, for example, is a great place to get a push in the right direction—even after you’ve graduated. Other articles like this one can offer job hunt tips, networking advice, and resume/cover letter writing guidance. You should also ask a family member or mentor who’s been through the process for some tricks of the trade.

While many new job seekers know one or two places to find job openings, they are rarely aware of all their options. In addition to scouring newspaper classifieds and online job boards, take a look at the websites of some top companies in your field and review social media sites.


2. Broaden Your Search…But Don’t Settle

Depending on your industry, profession, and location, it can be difficult to land the perfect position right out of school with limited experience in the field. Don’t limit yourself to full-time roles related to your degree. Look into part-time, contract, and temporary options for your first steps into the workforce, even if they aren’t strictly aligned with your long-term career goals.

However, don’t make a commitment somewhere you know you won’t be happy. In addition to experiencing a high measure of mental and emotional stress, you’re less likely to gain the achievements and levels of productivity that set you up for your dream job down the road.


3. Take Advantage of Social Media

As mentioned above, social media is one of several ways to learn about new opportunities, but did you know it’s also a great networking tool? From Twitter hashtags to LinkedIn connections, these sites offer innumerable ways to grow your personal brand and visibility. Before you start, though, make sure you spend some time combing through your previous posts and delete anything you wouldn’t want an employer to see.


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4. Focus Your Application

It can be tempting to create a general resume and cover letter to apply for hundreds of jobs, but that isn’t the way to get an interview in today’s market. Instead, continually update and target your materials with effective strategies and keywords. Remove irrelevant information and be concise, avoiding long stories in your cover letter or overly elaborate sentences in your resume.


5. Be Professional

Even as an entry-level candidate, professionalism is key. Plan your interview attire well before the big day. Additionally, always use a formal tone when communicating with potential employers, whether writing emails or making telephone calls, and always thank whomever you’re speaking to for his/her time.


6. Research the Employer

Before applying, take the time to research the organization. This will give you a feel for how to structure your cover letter and what experiences to focus on in your interview. Consider the corporate culture, values, and/or mission, as well as the specific company demands this role supports. Some of what you need to know should be available on the business’s website, but a quick Google search might be necessary to get the whole picture.


7. Prepare for the Interview

It is highly important that you get ready for your interview ahead of time. This will not only boost your confidence, but will also allow you to create stronger targeted answers before you step into the interviewer’s office. Perform a guided investigation of your strengths and weakness, craft answers to common interview questions, and practice a mock interview with a friend or family member to support quick, easy recall of the skills and achievements that make you the best candidate for the role.


With these steps to success and a strong dose of focus and determination, you’re ready to make your first move into the working world. Go jumpstart your career!