Applying for Your First Job: Everything You Need to Know

Date March 4, 2008 at 11:00 PM

Author Alexis Shannez Dudelczyk

Publication SantaFe.com

Categories Health & Beauty

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Applying for a job can be frightening, expectations can be unclear, and knowing where you will perform at your best and be compensated fairly is difficult to assess. The only element that can make this process even more intimidating is if you are applying for your very first job. Carlos Duno, President of Marcia Owen Associates, a permanent and temporary staffing agency located here in Santa Fe, and I have come up with tips for first-time job applicants to get through the process and find the perfect job.

Create your Resume. Creating a resume can be daunting, especially if you don't have any prior work experience. Don't worry! Employers who are hiring younger people often know they won't have much experience. However, there are still ways you can make your resume stand out from the others. Mr. Duno suggests creating a heading on your resume called "Skills."€ Are you an excellent typist? Are you a computer whiz? Are you the most organized person you know? Are you incredibly outgoing and have great communication skills? These are all characteristics employers are looking for in potential employees regardless of age. Another characteristic Mr. Duno says employers are looking for is leadership; so you may not have any prior work experience, but perhaps you are the assistant coach for your soccer team or have volunteered at the same soup kitchen since you were in the 7th grade. These things matter! Do not hesitate to list them on your resume.

Research Opportunities. This step seems pretty straight forward, but figuring out where to apply for your first job should involve some serious decision-making. Would you love to go into fashion design? Then working for a restaurant probably won't be a helpful listing on your resume for experience in the fashion-design field. Instead, consider working for a clothing store that you love or know will help you move up as you gain more experience. It may be obvious, but many young people settle for jobs they perceive as easy and don't keep in mind their long-term goals. By working in a field that is related to your dream job or a career path you would be happy with, by the time you apply for that really big job, you will have the experience necessary. As Mr. Duno points out, don't just apply for a job because it's a job, but rather think of your first job as an opportunity. Next, talk with your parents, friends' parents, or teachers about possible job opportunities. Oftentimes a connection is all that you need. Even websites such as Craigslist can help in researching where to apply. Once you have narrowed down where you would like to apply, make sure to research the companies, businesses and the position.

Apply. After narrowing down your final choices, apply! It is best to call the business beforehand to see when is best to drop off your resume, as well as when and how to get in contact with the people you will need to see. Mr. Duno suggests that as you apply to remember that many of the people that you will be in contact with throughout the application process will most likely influence the employer's decision whether or not to hire you. Being polite, patient and friendly with current staff can sometimes be a deciding factor in whether or not your resume will even be reviewed.

Sell Yourself. No! Not in that way. Once you have landed an interview, think of yourself as a product. Why would you be a good candidate for the position offered? What distinguishes you from the person before or after you? Explaining your best characteristics and your commitment to the position will make you stand out in a good way. Being offered an interview is huge and should be taken very seriously, despite what you know about the business or have heard from those who work there. With that said, dressing for an interview is crucial. Santa Fe's casual atmosphere can sometimes undermine how serious a job can be, which is why it is always best to dress up rather than dress down. Professionalism at a young age will leave a lasting impression, and first impressions are important. Also, don't forget Etiquette 101: look up directions before you leave your house, arrive 10 minutes early, greet both other workers and the person you are going to be interviewed by, and maintain eye contact! Mr. Duno says there are three key steps to excelling in an interview. The first is to show enthusiasm about the position; of course this is a lot easier to do if you genuinely are interested in the job (hence why really thinking about where to apply is important.) The second is to subtly let the employer know you have researched his or her business. For example, "I noticed on your website this company was founded in 1995"€ or other facts will demonstrate to the employer you took the time and energy to research their company and that you care about the position. The third step, which can often be frightening, is to ask questions. Have these prepared beforehand, even if you know the answers. Asking something along the lines of, "What will this position entail?"€ or "How many hours a week will this job require?"€ show the employer you are detail oriented. Mr. Duno also points out that asking about pay is OK but to never negotiate payment before the job has been formally offered to you.

Enjoy It! Once you have been formally offered the job and odds and ends have been figured out (pay, schedule, etc.) enjoy your first job! Remaining creative, independent, and helpful in whatever environment you end up in will play a large role in your first job experience. You aren't expected to be perfect or know everything, but you should be prepared to show interest in whatever you are assigned to do, learn, and most importantly enjoy your time there. And the paychecks!

Special thanks to Mr. Duno at Marcia Owen Associates. (505) 983"€¢7775 1411 Second Street Santa Fe, NM 87505. MarciaOwenAssoc.com.

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