First-time job seeker

You’ve got the degree, now you’re ready to get to work. Still trying to land your first job in the real-world? Be sure you don’t find yourself making the most common first-time job seeker mistakes with these quick tips.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate your salary

As a first-time job seeker, getting your first offer is exhilarating. It’s one of the moments in your career that you’ll never forget. You might be so thrilled to have gotten an offer that you hesitate to negotiate, thinking that it’s not an option for someone with little experience. Think about this, your first salary is the number that your next negotiation will revolve around. The higher your starting point, the better off you’ll be so even a 5k bump will help.

Stop throwing darts and hoping something sticks.

The working world can be an overwhelming maze to navigate. Possibilities can seem endless and well, let’s face it… you need a job. But beware of taking “just any job.” It’s great to be open, but you need to set some parameters or guidelines for yourself. Setting boundaries around the types of roles you’re applying for will make it easier for a hiring manager to get a sense of your story and direction. This will also make it easier for them to find a place for you in their organization, rather than seeing you as a blank slate. Imagine being asked about other opportunities you’re interviewing for and you share that you’ve applied for various roles such as a Marketing Assistant, a Jr. Financial Analyst and a Teacher’s Aide. You’d leave the hiring manager wondering if you really know what you want to do.

Take control of your job search.

Leaving your search to the “powers that be” behind job board portals can render any job seeker helpless, let alone an inexperienced one. As a first-time job seeker, you must be networking as much as possible. Tapping into your alumni network is a great place to start. Be sure to connect to your university or college within your profile on LinkedIn so that when you come across job postings of interest on the platform, you’ll be able to see and connect with other alumni working at that company.

Don’t limit your networking efforts to your alma mater though. Target people who work in departments of organizations you have a strong connection to and want to work for. Ask for an informational meeting and for any advice on how you can increase your chances of getting hired there too.

Do ample research on the company you’re interviewing with.

You’ve landed the interview, you’ve memorized the job description and you know you can prove that you can handle every bullet point listed as a responsibility. But don’t forget that this job fits within a very specific organization, with a specific identity and culture. Hiring managers want to recruit people who aren’t just “capable” of doing the job but who really want to work for the organization. Be sure you know enough about the company and can answer the question, “Why do you want to work here?”

Don’t make your search a full time job.

Don’t fall for the convention that, “looking for a job is a full-time job.” Unless you’re breaking world records for the greatest number of interviews on any given day, you probably have some free time on your hands. Freelancing or temping is a great way to get an inside view into various organizations and experience different environments. Not only that, but you’ll be gaining some valuable experience and potentially valuable contacts too! This experience will also give you something additional to talk about when an interviewer asks what you’ve been doing with your time. You can even work it to your advantage to show that by experiencing a few different company environments you’re even more certain that the company you’re currently interviewing is the right one for you!