The job market is competitive. It has always been and will continue to be so, pandemic or no pandemic. While roles, job profiles, scope of work, designations, and virtually everything else can change, one thing that remains constant is the fact that securing your first job – as a graduate, undergrad, or freshman masters – can be daunting and even intimidating.
Obstacles & Challenges to landing your first job
It’s never easy to tout your resume to various recruiters and employers. Even when you are doing it digitally, rejection is hard to handle. But, if you are being rejected you should try to figure out why.
Assuming you are probably submitting online applications, one reason could be that your resume is being parsed by a tracking system before it lands in the hands of a recruiter. Another reason could be that you are perhaps not applying for the right jobs. By this, we mean jobs that you would love to do. This can be traced back to your choice of speciality – you perhaps made a wrong career choice to begin with.
If you are killing it at the interview, perhaps you need more practice and if you tank the pay packet, you may need to rethink your expectations.
With that background, here are a few tips for first time job hunters –
Nail Your Career Options
Before you begin searching for your first job, decide what career trajectory you want to follow. At this point, hark back to your choice of academic stream and subject choices. Did you make the right choice? Or are you a victim of herd behaviour, social pressure and so on?
This is an important step because only if you are on the right path to begin with will you attain success. Oh, you might get through interviews and even land the job – only to reach an early burnout or stagnation with no will to move forward. So choosing the right career for you is important.
Apply for the Right Jobs
Ok. So you’ve nailed the perfect career for yourself. The next step is applying for jobs. Do this with care rather than randomly applying for any and every job that has your chosen job title.
Take for instance the career of a content writer. Very specific right? Wrong. A content writer does anything from running blogs to social media marketing to ghost writing books. What would you like to do?
Finding your niche is as important as selecting the right career. Besides, there are a host of recruiters out there who likely have little idea about what the job actually involves – they’re just doing their job scouting for candidates who fulfil certain criteria prescribed by employers.
So, read the job profiles carefully before you hit Apply. Having said that though, it’s ok to try out a few different niches to see which one is a good fit.
Write your CV with care
Your resume is the first thing the interviewer will see – well before he meets you – so write it with care. For instance, never write a one size fits all CV.
Recruitment today is a long drawn process beginning with headhunters who shortlist candidates based on prescribed criteria right up to several rounds of face-to-face, and group interviews – and even practical tests if the job demands it.
If you have a 3-page-long resume and expect the recruiter to pick out the qualities required for the job – be sure it will land in the trash bin.
The best thing to do is create a basic resume that has everything in it and then tweak it each time you submit it. Do remember to keep track what you sent to whom.
Create your Online Profile
It’s a digital world we live in – and going forward things will only move in one direction – online. So a good online profile is an absolute must.
During your high school and college days you probably created a ton of online profiles – many of which you may not even recollect. Try to find all of those and delete them – lest someone gets the wrong impression. Then create a professional digital profile. Also, remember to keep your personal and professional profiles separate,
For instance, never upload your CV on FB – unless of course you are using it for marketing.
Select the platform with care depending upon the industry you wish to enter and the type of job you wish to take up. LinkedIn for instance is for professionals – be they entrepreneurs, freelancers, or small businesses. Naukri.com and Monster.com are for those looking for an in-house job – also called in-office, regular, or 9 to 5 job. Again, cyberspace is full of them so do your homework well.
Tame your Expectations
According to the 2011 census, more than 6 million students in India graduate every year. Add to this, graduates from previous years who have yet to secure a job and the early birds, and you get the picture. These statistics are disturbing despite the fact that only about 8.5% of Indians are graduates. Graduate or not, everyone needs a job. Employers who hire non-graduates come to expect lower pay scales – which mean they will offer the same salary to graduates as well – though graduation can be a bargaining chip at the time of determining payscale as casn any skill or talent you possess.
Competition is tough and when you narrow it down to a specific niche, it can get tougher. So don’t expect a high salary or a lucrative pay packet from your first job.
What you can expect is to gain loads of experience and industry knowledge.
This is particularly true if you want to set out on your own – but even if you don’t, networking never hurts.
While we’re not advocating corruption, – knowing the right people does not mean that you will land the right job quickly – networking can definitely point you in the right direction and help you along the way through the guidance and support of your mentors and well-wishers. They can help you decide which jobs to apply to, help you perfect your resume, share pointers about talking to recruiters, and what to expect at the interview, and so on.
Such pointers and career guidance from experienced friends and relatives will serve to lead you to the right job faster.
Look for Hidden Jobs
Some niches get so flooded even before they are advertised, that recruiters don’t bother even posting the requirements. Moreover, many small companies prefer to hire through reference of previous or current employees. CA firms for instance work mostly with interns – internship is mandatory – ergo they rarely ever advertise vacancies.
Such jobs are filled even before they are vacated – remember we said you should know the right people?
So while you network, keep an eye out for such hidden jobs. If you are wondering why you should apply for temporary posts, remember that you are new to the work environment and the industry. Temporary jobs – or contract jobs as they are also called – will tide you over and give you much needed experience while you continue to job shop.
Want to get job ready?
Many students take up odd jobs or internship to gain experience even before they graduate.
While these may not be quite what you are looking for, such jobs serve to pay your way through college and give you much needed experience making you job-ready when you graduate. Moreover, internship is a mandatory part of many courses such as Chartered Accountancy (CA) and MBBS. Some internship programs pay you a small stipend while others only offer experience.
If you are having trouble landing a job, you might consider an internship while you job hunt.
Nail the Interview
The interview is the final step – or steps – to landing your job. You may have to work through several rounds ranging from a single face-to-face interview up to 3 – 5 rounds with the last one being a group round for final selection.
Even before that, headhunters, recruitment agencies, and freelance recruiters – depending upon how you go about it and who approaches you – will ask you several preliminary questions – often repeatedly. Though these are not technically interviews, you must answer with care and confidence.
Also remember, it’s all right to ask a question or two of your own – but never discuss the salary until the last round. Interviewers look for more than technical knowledge so brush up on your general knowledge and transferable skills or take a short skill development course that will make you industry ready.
Once you have cleared the final round of interview, you are on your way to the top. All that’s left to do is climb the corporate ladder.