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First job? Here are 10 things you need to know right now

10 things you need to know before your first job

Entering the professional world and embarking on your first job hunt can be both exciting and a little scary. Here are 10 essential things you need to know before searching for and securing your first job. 

What you need to know 

In the highly competitive job market, recent graduates must equip themselves with the essential knowledge and skills that will set them apart from other candidates. 

From crafting an impressive CV/resume to building a strong professional network, each tip will provide valuable insights and practical strategies to maximise your chances of landing your first job. Below are 10 points to consider and/or work on to help prepare for your job search. 

Create an impressive CV (resume)

Your CV/resume is your ticket to catching the attention of potential employers. Take the time to create a polished and professional resume that highlights your skills, education, and relevant experiences.

Keep it up to date as you gain new accomplishments and tailor it to fit the specific job you’re targeting. A CV/resume crafted with care can create a positive initial impression. This can help you stand out from other applicants competing for the same job.

Identify your hard and soft skills

Understanding your hard and soft skills is crucial when entering the job market. Assess your soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. Evaluate your hard skills, such as technical expertise and software proficiency. 

Identifying your skills will help you articulate them effectively in your applications and interviews. It will also allow you to focus on enhancing weaker areas and showcasing your strengths to potential employers.

Perform a SWOT analysis

Conducting a personal SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis can provide valuable insights into your capabilities and areas for improvement. 

Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and consider the opportunities and threats that exist in the job market. This analysis will help you develop strategies to enhance your strengths, overcome weaknesses, seize opportunities, and mitigate potential threats. 

A SWOT analysis provides guidance for personal and professional development. It can aid you when you’re planning your job search. It serves as a roadmap, showing you the way to success. Moreover, this will serve as the foundation for your personal development plan.

Set up your LinkedIn profile

In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is essential. Create a professional LinkedIn profile that showcases your skills, experiences, and accomplishments. 

Take advantage of this platform to connect with industry professionals, join relevant groups, and actively engage in discussions. Additionally, consider building a personal website or portfolio to showcase your work and projects. Creating a compelling LinkedIn profile and online portfolio can help potential employers discover your talent and expertise. This can leave a lasting impression. If you already have a LinkedIn profile, make sure you’ve optimised it.

Build your network

Building a strong professional network is a valuable asset in your career journey. Attend industry events, career fairs, and alumni gatherings to meet professionals in your field. 

Foster relationships with like-minded individuals and seek out mentors who can offer guidance and support. Don’t limit your networking efforts to offline events; leverage online platforms to connect with peers and industry leaders. Building a network opens doors to new opportunities, provides valuable insights, and can lead to referrals or recommendations when job hunting.

Your first job interview

Interviews are a crucial step in the job search process. Research common interview questions and practice your responses, and develop compelling stories that demonstrate your skills and experiences. Ideally, use the STAR method to improve your interview answers.

Dress professionally, arrive on time, and showcase your enthusiasm and preparedness. After the interview, follow up with a thank-you note to express your appreciation and reiterate your interest in the position. Preparing for interviews can have many benefits. It will boost your confidence, enabling you to articulate your capabilities more effectively. This will increase your chances of making a good impression on potential employers.

Enhance communication skills

Effective communication is a vital skill in the workplace. Sharpen your verbal, written, and non-verbal communication skills to ensure you convey your thoughts clearly and engage with others effectively. 

Practice active listening, adapt your communication style to different audiences, and express your ideas confidently. Keep seeking feedback to improve your communication abilities. Effective communication is essential for success in the workplace. It can help you build good relationships with colleagues and supervisors. This, in turn, enables collaboration and has a positive effect on your professional interactions.

Cultivate a strong work ethic

Professionalism is crucial in any job but work ethic doesn’t come easily. Be punctual, reliable, and committed to your work. Show initiative by taking on additional responsibilities and going the extra mile. 

Consistently deliver high-quality work and strive for excellence in everything you do. Employers and colleagues will notice your dedication and hard work, and this, in turn, will set you apart. Developing a good work ethic early on will set you up for success in the future. It will also open up new paths, strengthening your career.

Understand what an intern’s role is 

As an intern, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what your role entails. Internships provide valuable opportunities for practical experience and skill development. Research and familiarise yourself with the expectations and responsibilities associated with the specific internship you’re pursuing. 

Understand the goals and objectives of the organisation or company where you’ll be interning, and how your role fits into their overall operations. By having a comprehensive understanding of your intern’s role, you can approach the experience with clarity, focus, and a readiness to contribute effectively to the team. 

Research the job market

Gathering a deeper understanding of your chosen industry and the current job market can give you a significant boost. Research industry trends, emerging roles, and in-demand skills to align your career goals accordingly. 

Research industry trends, emerging roles, and in-demand skills to align your career goals effectively. Stay informed about job market conditions, such as industry growth and the availability of positions. By staying updated, you can tailor your applications and focus your efforts on sectors with promising job prospects. 

Immerse yourself in relevant news, blogs, and publications to stay ahead of industry trends and advancements. Follow industry influencers on social media and join professional communities to expand your knowledge base. Demonstrating your knowledge and enthusiasm for the field in interviews and conversations will make you a more attractive candidate for job opportunities.

Final thoughts

As you prepare to enter the professional world, it’s crucial to equip yourself with the knowledge and skills necessary for success. By following these 10 points, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the job search process and seize opportunities.

Securing your first job takes time and effort. However, with proper preparation and determination, success will never be too far away. Check out our comprehensive job hunt cheat sheet for more helpful tips!




Kahless is a writer with a special interest in sociology. He spends much of his free time travelling, reading, writing, and stopping his cats from ripping apart everything he owns. It’s advised to bring along a strong cup of coffee (3 espresso shots minimum) when approaching him.

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