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How To Land Your First Job


It takes work — you’ve heard this before — to land your first job, and you got to start months, perhaps years, before you actually get an offer. Here’s how:

It takes work — you’ve heard this before — to land your first job, and you got to start months, perhaps years, before you actually get an offer. Here’s how:

Start interning early

This means optimising your time on and off campus. Yes, the course load may be heavy but you have to take advantage of periods when you can juggle studies and a job.

The August vacation may be ideal. Remember, you want to find jobs in your industry, not just fill the time as the resident library help at UWI.

It’s never too early to start interning. The sooner you get experience in your industry, the sooner you set yourself apart from your peers.

Mind you, for internships try to target companies with significant brand recognition. Brand name companies open far more doors for graduates and internships help ensure that when employers scan your résumé they know they’ve found the right candidate — you.

And if an internship leads to a job that’s just a stepping stone to what you’re really after in your industry, take it. Too many graduates want to start off in management not realising they must build bridges to get there.

Join industry associations

Professional memberships count. These trade groups can be the ideal networking opportunity for you because association members are often captains of industry. These are the people you want to know you.

Research the groups that are aligned with your industry and find out about membership. If you don’t qualify based on the group’s bye-laws be sure to ask about becoming an associate member.

And if that’s not an option you can still relish the opportunity to attend a slate of industry events each year. Networking, remember?

Enhance your social media accounts

We live in a digital world you and I, so don’t think potential employers won’t follow your digital footprints to see where they lead.

You should invest in your LinkedIn profile in particular. It still ranks as the best professional networking site out there and taking time to provide details about work you’ve done means having a greater chance of being noticed.

I understand what it’s like to sit there and twiddle your thumbs about what to post on LinkedIn if you don’t have any real work experience.

This is where you want to focus on your skills. But don’t go overboard. Limit yourself to skills that are a fit with the jobs you’re looking for in the industry you want to work in.

The ubiquity of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram means you can put the word out that you’re looking for a job with more than a chance of someone who could help noticing. Do this long before graduation. It helps that in T&T everyone seems to be on Facebook.

Here’s what you shouldn’t do: don’t use social media to ask prospective employers for work before you’ve sent off a formal application via email. An email addressed to the right person is almost always the better approach to take.

Be creative

We’ve talked about this on this blog before. It just doesn’t make sense for new graduates to go the generic route. Resist that urge, whatever you do, to look like the other job applicant.

Use your imagination. Competition is fierce. Everyone has their eyes on the job you want so you need to make an impression. Often, that starts with the kind of résumé you send to prospective employers.

But it goes beyond the application. You have to prepare for the interview. You have a heck of a lot of research to do before you even get a call. Do you know the history of the company you’re applying to? Customise your job applications. Don’t you dare send the same thing to every company because every company is different. Your job is to prove that you’ve paid attention to the details, that details matter to you.

Have you identified their major business goals, analysed their competition, understood their challenges? You must.

And while you’re waiting for that call keep learning. Every good book or article you read counts.

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