Written by Taylor


This post originally appeared at www.sendouts.com.


In the eyes of a college student, summer is that anticipated season of the year that liberates you from nine months of stuffy classrooms and piles of coursework. This year, however, I got a sinking feeling as I completed my last exam.  Ready or not, I had made the great leap from junior to senior year. I realized at that moment, that in less than 12 months I would graduate and begin work in the “real world.” I had to start thinking about the question that I had been simultaneously avoiding and attempting to answer since the start of college: How do I get my first job?

“Oh you don’t need to look for jobs because,” he paused to take a large sip of his martini, “they have a way of finding you.” 

I posed this question to nearly every adult I have struck up a conversation with since early May, and the answers that I received vary wildly. One person said she called up the firm and simply asked for the job. Others were more enigmatic. “Oh you don’t need to look for jobs because,” he paused to take a large sip of his martini, “they have a way of finding you.”

There did appear to be a consensus on one piece of advice. One pearl of wisdom that echoed with everyone I spoke to was the importance of forming personal relationships. Although the necessity of networking may seem intuitive to someone who has been in the workforce, to me this came as a surprise. For the last ten years the school system has taught me that good grades are a top priority and indicative one’s intellectual abilities. While grades do matter when job searching, especially for the first employment, I have learned through my dialogues with seasoned job hunters that networking is equally important.

I have only taken the first few steps in the long journey that ends with a paycheck from my first official job, and I am not yet sure of my exact destination. At least now I know that networking, real or virtual, will provide me with an  avenue to reach that destination.

Remember landing your first job? Was it through someone you knew, did you answer a job ad, did you knock on doors?  While technology like job boards and social media have changed the tools used to look for work, are the fundamentals the same?  What advice can staffing and recruiting professionals share with Millennials, like me, who are looking to finally put their education to work for the first time?

Views: 64

Comment by Tom Dimmick on July 6, 2011 at 10:53am

There are really two approaches to this problem and both have mixed results.

The first technique is to approach the job market in a very systematic way.  Determine the kind of work you want to do; the kind of firm you want to work for; the kind of environment in which you want to work.  Then diligently seek out those opportunities using all of the usual techniques - direct applications, networking, appropriate recruiters, job boards, etc.

The second technique is much more haphazard. In fact, it is completely random.  Read the job boards, talk to recruiters, talk to the career office at your university. Apply to any job that appeals to you and when offered an opportunity take it!

The net result of these two approaches is, provided you've kept your eyes and ears open and applied yourself, that you will learn a great deal about the world of work and what you do and do not want to do for the rest of your career.  Simply put, your first job is not nearly as important as the job that you take two years or more later.  Do not keep repeating these first two years over and over.  Get some experience and some perspective but whatever you do, get focused.


Comment by Katherine Lebeck on July 7, 2011 at 1:19pm

When starting my career I found informational interviews to be very helpful. Since I entered the job market I have only had one graduate reach out in that manner. I think it is a great way to build relationships, gather information, and get a better understanding of what you actually want to do for a living.

Joining professional organizations with local chapters is also a key to success. Upon returning to Pittsburgh from NY I quickly joined the Pittsburgh Human Resources Association. It was through the PHRA that I was able to connect with professionals in my field for informational interviews.

Lastly, when my job search was not going anywhere I reached out to a local employment counselor. I truly owe landing my first job to him. It was a temporary job working as an HR Coordinator (applied via Craigslist). The HR Director I was working for became an amazing friend. She actually helped me find the full time position I accepted when the temporary engagement came to an end.

Hope this helps!

Comment by Alan on July 7, 2011 at 1:26pm
I got my first job through my neighbour, one that I didn't really know but my sister was a good friend of their daughter. I've hired tons of grads over the years. Some directly through University co-op and graduate programs. Most from referrals -parents and relatives who were employees, but most who were referred in by their friends. The key from my history is the largest numbers were hired from referrals from friends and family. The best jobs offered came through the co-op/graduate recruiting programs. However, should you manage an introduction (from a career fair to a cold call that results in and interview) thank the person with a note and follow-up with them from time to time. Follow-ups are rarely done by anyone, so they pack a lot of selection weight when they do happen.
Comment by pam claughton on July 10, 2011 at 8:01am

Networking and informational interviews were the key to my landing my first professional job out of college. Also, internships and jobs held while in college are critical to giving an edge and helping with networking.


Another very important bit of advice goes against what many people think and before I got into recruiting, my opinion was the opposite of what it is now. When my younger sister graduated from college the economy was awful and jobs were few and far between. She was a finance major and when offered a position in accounts payable for a local software company, we encouraged her to accept as the salary was good and she could live at home and save money. She quickly realized the job was not the right challenge for her and asked our advice on what to do. We both advised her to 'stick it out for at least a year so it will look good on your resume.'


Worst advice EVER. At the one year mark, she started looking and what happened? The only job interviews she could get were for other account payable jobs. By staying in that role for a solid year she had now pigeon-holed herself as an 'accounts payable person'.  Whereas, if she had started looking right away she could easily have explained to interviewers that the role wasn't the right challenge and that it wasn't the direction she wished to continue on.




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