Whether you have just graduated or have recently decided to take the leap and find a job you love, landing your first job is an exciting and a scary prospect.

Not everyone knows what they want to do with their career, or what jobs they would enjoy, and that’s OK! In fact, a high number of students do not study a subject that immediately leads to a career but a subject they enjoy. 

Remember, if you have completed a higher education course or apprenticeship a lot of companies will already be interested in you. Completing a high level course shows that you are motivated and dedicated, and have skills ideal for work, including writing, working as a team and presenting.

If you have been working since you graduated, or didn’t graduate at all, you may also have an advantage. Any experience in the workplace gives you an edge over other applicants and an understanding about what it’s like to work in a team environment, and if you haven’t worked before then you will be in the perfect position to try something completely new!

Here are some steps to take to help you land your first job:

1. decide what you want

It’s always a good idea to decide what you want from a job before you start looking. You should at least try to choose a field of work you would like to work in, even if you are not sure about the industry or sector. You work for longer than you do anything else in life, so try to choose something you think you will enjoy. 

Of course, if you have never worked before you can only guess what this might be – use your hobbies, interests and personality traits as a good starting point. And ask yourself what kind of environment do you see yourself in? i.e. an office, outside, in a team, and what kind of work do you see yourself doing? i.e. administration, finance or physical work.

2. gain experience if you can

If you are able to, when you have decided on your direction, it can be a good idea to try to find some work experience. This is invaluable for your personal branding and CV, and shows that you really want to find a role in your desired field. It can also benefit you and give you a greater understanding about the industry and role, and help you to decide if this is really the path you want to take. 

Find out 8 ways to get that “mythical” job experience.

3. update your CV

Your CV is your ticket to landing that first job. Make sure it is entirely up-to-date and includes all relevant experience and knowledge. Keep your CV up-to-date at regular intervals and be sure to include all of the skills you learned while studying – including any communication or computer skills that you might take for granted, but an employer would be interested to know about.

For more info on how to write a CV – read the recruiters guide to your CV and cover letter.

4. tell your story well

How you pitch yourself really matters, particularly when you are new to the job market. If you haven’t found a job yet or any work experience, do not panic. Be sure to mention the skills and attributes you do have – remember sometimes it’s more about your attitude that it is about your skills. Really think about the personality traits you have that would really make you stand out as a candidate and why they would benefit that particular industry, or even company. Be sure to allude to your career story in your CV and cover letter, and expand on this when you land the interview. 

A good way to do this is to create a visual prompt, like a video or a Powerpoint presentation – about why you are the perfect candidate. Another great way to refine your story is to craft your online personal brand – from your social media networks to your website.

It’s time to get out there!

Sometimes, all it takes is an interview and you are in! You just need to do everything you can to secure that all-important first meeting – including prepping your CV, writing a concise cover letter and really knowing what you want.

When it comes to your first job, it’s also a good idea to focus on getting one, rather than which one you get. Try to worry too much about the job being “perfect” for you – perhaps it’s OK for right now and will give you that stepping stone to landing a job that is closer to perfect.