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How to Get Your First Job in 8 Steps

My First Job

It’s a definitive time in your life: it’s a step up from childhood, and a preview of adulthood. It’s a proud moment, when you are old enough to earn your own money. First job experiences are also formative. Not only do they teach you the value of hard work and money — they also shape your understanding of the world. They increase your self-confidence and self-sufficiency. And a good first job will get you started on the path to future success.

My first job was a doughnut finisher at my local Dunkin Donuts in Andrew Square — a job that was very reflective of my Boston roots. Although the work wasn’t glamorous, it was definitely a lot of hard work and taught me a lot. While I wouldn’t call myself a baker, I surprised myself with my new skills — something I wouldn’t have learned if I hadn’t taken this job!

My days would start early in the morning, way before our store opened — and you know how early Dunkin Donuts opens! My shift would consist of getting the doughnuts ready for sale, accept shipments, and prepare the doughnuts with a variety of fillings, icings, and decorations. The busiest time would obviously be in the morning, when doughnuts would fly off the shelves. Sampling the different doughnuts was a fun part of the day, especially the new flavors.

When I go to Dunkin Donuts now, I often think back to the hours I spent there as a teenager. Dunkin Donuts has changed a lot since I worked there in the early 1980s. But I know my first job experience is similar to other young people’s experiences today. Everyone’s career needs to start somewhere, and that’s where I got my start.

In many ways, my first job helped shape me into who I am today — it taught me the value of hard work, the importance of being dedicated and committed to getting the job done, and the proud feeling you get when you earn your own money. It also shaped my understanding of how crucial part-time jobs are for a young person’s growth and development.

That’s why, as Mayor, I am so supportive of summer jobs and other part-time jobs for our City’s young people. These are positive experiences that every young person should have, especially as they move through their teenage years and into adulthood. For young people who live in low-income areas or have a lack of support in their lives, a good part-time job can have a great impact on their lives and even make a difference, by increasing their confidence and putting them on the track to success.

How to get your first job

1. Set your expectations

Higher-paying jobs often require additional education and experience. As you first start your career, consider jobs in retail, sales, fast food or other entry-level sectors. These are often competitive positions because many teenagers and young adults seek them out. However, these workplaces are almost always hiring, so there are plenty of opportunities for you.

2. Network with peers

Whether you’re just starting your career or are approaching the midway point, networking is always beneficial. Talk to your friends, family and schoolmates and let them know you’re actively seeking a job. Friends or other students may have connections to family-run businesses or can vouch for you at a local restaurant. Having a connection to a role significantly increases your chances of obtaining the position.

3. Consider a job for the experience

Your first job may not be exactly what you want, but it offers a valuable experience you can use later. For example, if you work in retail, you earn in-demand customer service skills and expose yourself to a wide variety of situations. Each one presents unique ways for you to either learn new skills or sharpen old ones. In a restaurant setting, you might learn basic business fundamentals like inventory management or food safety. It could even lead to an advanced position, since many restaurants prefer to promote a waitress to kitchen staff rather than hire a stranger.

4. Write a resume

The best way to promote yourself to an employer is to have a resume to show them. You may have little or no professional experience to discuss within your resume, but consider the skills you learned elsewhere. For example, if you’re taking and excelling in a public speaking course, you might include your advanced verbal communication skills. Also, consider volunteer positions as they provide a similar experience as a paid position. For example, if you volunteered in a soup kitchen, include it in your resume with food preparation skills, customer service skills and more.

5. Search for a job

While networking is great for making business contacts, it also requires you to supplement it with an actual job search. There are many tools and applications both online on your computer and on your smartphone that can help. Some solely focus on the job search, while others include other features like social media and networking elements. Look up your desired roles in the local area through job boards. You can even make an online professional networking profile and start showcasing some of your skills, talents and experience.

6. Prepare for the interview

Once you select a job, apply and earn an interview, the time comes to prepare. Look over the job description and study the information presented. Take note of particular attributes or skills they look for in applicants. Research the business and discover its history, mission and beliefs. Find out who may interview you and look them up on networking sites. Read through their interests and get to know them as a person. This information not only helps in an interview but allows you to ask questions about the information you found.

7. Dress appropriately

The first thing an interviewer notices about you is often the clothes you wear. Your attire makes a statement about who you are and your intent within the interview. For example, if you walk into an office interview with a T-shirt and jeans, it may look as though you’re not taking it seriously. Consider the job you applied to and what employees wear on a daily basis. When dressing for your interview, try clothes that are a step above the daily dress code. For example, if the job allows business casual attire, choose business formal attire for the interview.

8. Follow up after the interview

It’s not often required, but following up after an interview may sway the company’s opinion of you in a positive direction. Write an email that explains how thankful and appreciative you are for the opportunity to interview with them. Thank them for their time and send them best wishes for finding the right person for the position. This shows that you really care about the company and the job, encouraging them to consider you for the position. Give them an additional reason to hire you rather than nothing at all.

Tips for getting your first job

1. Proofread your application, resume and other materials

Any written or typed supplementary materials you bring into the application and interview process exhibit your communication skills. Ensure you submit a resume free of grammar errors and built with proper formatting. When it comes to your application and other materials, ensure you read every question thoroughly and answer to the best of your ability.

2. Network at every available opportunity

3. Tailor your resume to every position

Different hiring managers look for different qualifications within an application. Look for specific keywords or recurring phrases within job descriptions. For example, one fast-food manager may put a higher value or greater emphasis on customer service rather than food preparation and explain that in the job posting. In this case, edit your resume to focus more on your customer service-oriented skills such as communication and time management. Include this within your skills section and expand on them within your experience section.

How to Uncover the Right Keywords to Include in Your Resume

Have you ever heard of applicant tracking systems ? It’s when a company uses a computer program to filter through applications and resumes, weeding out the candidates who aren’t a fit — simply because they didn’t use the right words. That’s right: your resume could be chucked in the proverbial trash before it ever reaches a human’s eyes, all because you didn’t use a word the system was searching for. How do you know which words to use? A good place to start is the job description . Read more here .

Depressing statistic: recruiters and hiring managers only spend an average of six seconds reading your resume . (We know, it hurts.) That’s not a lot of time to capture their attention. That’s why it’s so important to know what potential employers are looking for in those few precious seconds, and put them in your resumes. Consider: technical skills, soft skills, examples of impact, certifications, and quantifiable success. Read more here .



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