Your first job is important, and while there will always be the chance to explore different interests, your first job is likely to set the course for the rest of your career.
We roped in expert Angela Middleton, CEO of Training and Recruitment provider MiddletonMurray, to share her advice on getting ahead and securing that all important first job.
Having helped thousands of young people into their first jobs, Angela knows how to get ahead and by following her top tips, you’ll set yourself apart from the pack.
1. Research, research, research
It can be so daunting when you are looking for that all-important first role. Do be open to suggestions and speak to friends and family, read the papers and look online. Despite many amazing steps forward for gender equality there are still many male dominated sectors out there. Don’t let this put you off because at the top level, many of these businesses are looking to address this and shift the male/female balance to – rightly so – create a more diverse workforce.
2. Befriend a recruiter
Recruiters are a valuable asset to first time job seekers because they are there to help you find and secure as many interviews as possible. But, do remember that a recruiter will be looking at you with a pound sign on your head, and if you impress your recruiter, they will feel comfortable about putting you forward for the best jobs that they have on their books. It’s incredibly important to ensure that you build a rapport with them and are accommodating with regards to attending interviews. If you are adaptable and enthusiastic at all times, a good recruiter can be a great asset!
3. Sort out your Snapchat
It’s common knowledge that prospective employers will investigate your social channels ahead of meeting you for the first time, so check that each channel gives off the professional impression you want it to. I’m a huge fan of using social media to help you in a business sense, so do update your LinkedIn regularly and engage with your contacts. If you’ve recently graduated or left school, do ensure that your Facebook and Instagram settings are completely private, including past non-professional posts.
4. Slow down
I’m seeing more and more that initial interviews will take place over the phone, or applicants will be asked to upload a pre-recorded video. Before a phone call or video interview, do take a moment to calm yourself. It’s natural that when you’re nervous your voice will go up a couple of octaves and you may speed up – this is a sure sign that you are suffering from nerves. Speak clearly, slowly, in a professional manner and be confident in your answers.
5. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have
Do dress to impress, but consider the dress code for the office. For an interview you don’t need to resort to a grey suit and white shirt; show your personality but ensure you are clean, groomed and presentable at all times. Read more: what to wear to a job interview to nail that first impression.
6. The all-important handshake
So much emphasis has been placed on this that that I’ve found women often over compensate for fear of having a ‘weak handshake’ and almost crush your fingers. Keep eye contact when greeting the interviewer and don’t overdo the shake – keep it firm, brief and smile at your interviewer.
7. Don’t forget body language
I believe that how you carry yourself is crucial when making a good first impression. Make sure your shoulders are pulled back, hold your head up and present yourself professionally at all times. Make regular eye contact, and if you’re guilty of being over-animated when chatting with friends, keep your hands on your lap to avoid too many distracting hand movements.
8. Keep it professional
Although creating rapport is incredibly important, you must always remember that you are a prospective employee, and this is the impression that you are keen to make. Although a good interviewer will aim to make you relax, refrain from being overly friendly, it is a job interview after all and anything which blurs the boundaries of personal and professional is a no-no. Read more: how to deal with a bad boss.
9. Money talks
When it comes to negotiating your salary, always remember that as soon as a figure is mentioned, that becomes the ‘anchor’ and your negotiations are always centered around it. If the role is advertised between £20-25k, always hedge your bets and say. ‘I’ve been looking at roles in the late twenties, but for the right opportunity I would be prepared to move towards £25k.’ This shows that you are willing to compromise for the right role, but also that you are unwilling to undersell yourself.
10. Sealing the deal
After your interview, when you’ve created a great professional rapport with the interviewer, do ask them how and when you may expect to hear further from them. Do ask for their consent to contact them, should you not hear. Always connect with them on LinkedIn as soon as you leave and drop them a one-line note thanking them for the interview. This communicates your enthusiasm, and helps you to stand out from the crowd.
Good luck, guys.