The new job seeker’s dilemma: Jobs require experience, but you can’t get experience without a job…
Fear not! Here are four good steps that you can take to improve your chances of securing your first job in the field of your choice.
Find a mentor
One of the best ways to learn about your chosen career is to find someone who is already living it. This person can provide valuable advice on how to gain the skills needed to secure a job in your field. Ask if you can job-shadow for a short time – a day or a few weeks – to see if this career path is really for you. Your mentor may even give you a heads-up on job openings.
Look for internships
Many companies and organizations provide internships for recent graduates. Internships are a great way to learn more about the field, gain valuable skills, make contacts and secure references. While internships are often unpaid, they frequently lead to full-time positions upon completion.
Apply, apply, apply
For many job postings demanding 1–2 years of experience, employers sometimes consider applicants with a little less. Don’t give up if you can make a case for having the skills they need! On your resumé, highlight transferable skills gained in summer employment or extracurricular activities. According to Mary Giamos, a career-management consultant with the University of Toronto Career Centre, “In a job listing, employers are describing their ideal candidate. If someone has good examples of how they meet most of the qualities listed, they have nothing to lose by applying.”
At the interview, be honest about your experience but show your enthusiasm for learning. Employers look for candidates who show a commitment to working hard and who gel with their team.
One of the best things to do is network. Talk to anyone and everyone you know. Tell them the field you are interested in and ask if they know people you can talk with or opportunities available. Get your name out there. That way, when your dream job opens up, someone might just recommend you!
Finally, be patient
Giamos explains that while most graduates don’t have a job at convocation, when surveyed six months later many have secured employment. “Be patient,” she says. “It takes time to find something that is a good fit.”