Everyone who enters the workforce has something in common. They all have embarked upon a first full-time job search. There is a lot riding on it, but it is a completely new experience. Sometimes there is uncertainty about the process and a lack of awareness in the working world. Here are a few nuggets to keep in mind when setting out on the journey.
Adopt A Growth Mindset
When you are looking for your first job, you are, in many ways, a blank canvas. You have valuable experiences and your education has given you a foundation of awareness and understanding. But, for most people, there is a lot of uncertainty about that first job. Very few new hires can hit the ground running and begin making meaningful contributions from day one.
There is a period of onboarding initially, but learning is ongoing. You have to understand the job, the organization and its mission, and the industry, just to name a few. Recognize there will be a significant amount to learn going into the job search. Beyond recognizing it, embrace it. A growth mindset, according to Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The new psychology of success, means you believe you can learn anything, you want to be challenged and your effort and attitude determine your success; not your natural abilities. Avoid limiting yourself based on what you currently know because there are infinite possibilities.
Put Yourself In The Manager’s Seat
This piece of advice does not mean saying what a manager wants to hear. That is inauthentic and people see through that most of the time. You always want to be honest and authentic, but look at your own candidacy for a job as if you are the hiring manager. Assess your own strengths and weaknesses as they relate to the position. What can you bring to the job and the organization that will excite a supervisor? People are hired because they can add value. The manager’s job is to assess who can do that best. In order to stand out to a manager, sometimes you have to think like a manager.
Similar to a growth mindset, a positive attitude can cure a number of ills when it comes to a job search. People are naturally more drawn to positive people. They want to be around them, they want to be friends with them, and in the workplace, they want them to be on their team. Given the amount of time we spend with people at work, a positive attitude is refreshing.
In addition to your own positive attitude, you want to be positive about others in your job search. Speaking negatively about teachers, coaches, bosses, and co-workers is a turn-off to hiring managers. There is always a diplomatic way to explain that you had a bad boss or you and a co-worker did not get along well if it comes up. Throwing people under the bus is counterproductive.
Persistence Pays Off
Job searches can take time. Sometimes they drag on. It may take an employer several weeks or months to fill a position. This can be frustrating for candidates. After all, you are right there in front of them, enthusiastic about getting started. Worse yet, sometimes an employer will go through a recruitment process and decide not to fill the position. When looking for that first full-time job, cast a wide net and keep casting until you land that fish. Even if you have had some conversations and phone interviews or recruiters are looking at your resume, keep pressing forward with applying until you have something in hand.
Maintain Your Resume And Cover Letter
When you embark on your job search, you have a resume and cover letter ready to go. Be sure to keep your resume up-to-date and tailor it, along with your cover letter, to jobs that you are applying. You may be working part-time, participating in an internship, or doing volunteer work. Maybe you are still taking classes. All of these activities can lead to new learning, skills and responsibilities that you want to add to your resume. It is a living document. As you grow, it grows.
Your cover letter should be tailored to the jobs you are seeking. Customizing as many details as possible is important. You have to direct the language of the resume and cover letter to that position as much as possible. Use the job advertisement to your advantage and adopt some of the phrasing and language.
Many people looking for a job think networking is important. In some ways it is. Nevertheless, what if you tried to do more than network? What if you weren’t necessarily trying to get anything out of the relationship, other than a relationship? How could that set you apart? When you are searching for that first full-time job, make as many connections as possible, but avoid making those connections all about you. When you meet new people, think longer-term than just this initial search. You will likely run into these people again, and you may both serve as resources for each other throughout your careers.