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So many jobs, so many companies, sooo many choices! Being a newbie in the job market can be a daunting experience. Where do you start when you’ve never had to navigate job applications, interviews and assessments before? Right here! Our recruitment experts have put together five top tips to help you find and land your first job.

Start with You

Take a look at yourself. What are your core strengths? What are your preferred work environments? What would you like to be doing in five years’ time? Before you get your job search underway, decide what type of role you would like to aim for and why. If you’re unsure, chatting to a career’s advisor or recruitment consultant can be a good idea. They can give you an idea of the different jobs that are out there, and help you zoom in on a few suitable and rewarding options.

Create a winning resume and cover letter

Brush up your resume or create one from scratch. If you don’t have heaps of work experience, don’t worry! Hiring managers will be more interested in your potential at this stage, so highlight your key strengths, showcase your achievements and shine a spotlight on your interests. Work on your cover letters too, making sure that each one is carefully targeted to the role you are applying for. It can be a good idea to keep track of your applications (dates, roles, hiring manager names and contact details, etc.) in a dedicated spreadsheet, especially if you’re using multiple platforms. At a glance, you’ll know what you’ve done and when, and who to follow up with.

Consider building a LinkedIn profile. It’s a great platform for developing your professional presence and networking with other professionals.

Get a foot in the door!

There’s so much you can do both online and offline to further your job search. Check out job listings on recruitment agency websites or search engines such as SEEK and Indeed, where you can search for specific roles by area and set up job alerts. Click on a few roles and get a feel for what employers are asking for – and then apply if you think you are a suitable candidate. With a little online research, you’ll also find resume templates, information on what to expect at interview, and heaps more useful resources.

Don’t forget face-to-face opportunities! Careers fairs and recruitment events can be great ways to find out about different jobs and organisations and connect with the people working there. Ask questions, gather brochures and business cards – and follow up! If you’ve had an interesting discussion with a company representative, there’s no harm in sending a brief email to thank them for their time and ask if there are any upcoming internships or job shadow opportunities.

If you’re at uni, tap into your alumni network. Chances are you’ll find former students working in your first-choice organisation or similar companies. While alumni may not hand you a job on a plate, many will be happy to provide you with job-related information and advice. Also look at joining an industry-related group at uni, where you can connect with like-minded peers and potentially access professionals working in the field.

Really prepare for that interview

Before the big day, make sure you’ve researched the role and the organisation in detail. Try to anticipate some of the questions you’ll be asked and prepare responses to them. Go armed with a couple of questions of your own to show you’ve done your homework. Every recruiting manager likes to see preparation and enthusiasm! Oh, and dress appropriately. Look the part and if in doubt, dress up rather than down.

Be persistent

It can take time and effort (and a lot of applications) to land your first job. Keep at it but leave a little time for living too. Persistence pays off and you’ll soon find a role you love and the chance to embark on a rewarding career journey.

Good luck!

At Optimal Recruitment we are experienced in helping candidates navigate the job market. Give us a call today on 02 8416 4181.

Resume Writing Tips

Aaargh! You’ve been putting it off for weeks. Writing that pesky first resume. Don’t despair! Follow our top ten tips below and you’ll be one step closer to securing your dream job.

  1. Keep It Simple

So, you might want to experiment with font and colour. Great if you are a wannabee graphic designer. If not, stick to a readable font, like Arial, Times New Roman or Calibri, throughout. You can still play around with bold and italics to highlight important features.

If your resume runs to more than one page, consider including a header or footer with your name and contact details. Sometimes, recruiters print out resumes and this ensures none of your info goes astray.

  1. Contact Details

Casual voice mail messages, such as “Hey, dude. Surf’s up…etc.” (Yup, we’ve heard them all before) are a big no-no. Record something short and polite. You’re looking for work, not catching your next set. Equally, blasting your caller with on-hold music is not cool.

Check your email message is professional and appropriate. How about keeping shazzarocks@hotmail.com for your personal contacts, and using sharon.rock@hotmail.com in your job search instead?

  1. Education

List your high school name, location, and dates of attendance.

If applicable, also list your university/college name, location, course title, dates of attendance, and qualification level achieved.

Impressive final grades? Make sure you include them too.

  1. School/College/University Achievements

Think about what you achieved at school, college and/or uni. Did you hold a position of special responsibility, e.g. class captain? Did you receive any awards? Were you a member of any school teams, music groups, or associations?

This section shows that you did more than just turn up for class and sit the end-of-year exams.

  1. Personal Attributes

Tell the recruiter what qualities you offer them as an individual. Ask others, such as teachers, university professors, and close family friends, how they would describe you. Or check out your past school reports. Focus on positive descriptions, e.g. motivated, keen to learn, reliable, honest, good team player, and strong communicator. And don’t list too many!

  1. Skills

This section should focus on your proven abilities, e.g.

Intermediate Software: Word, Excel, Outlook, Internet

Basic Software: PowerPoint, Photoshop

Languages: English native speaker, fluent Italian (written and spoken)

Bear in mind that recruitment agencies and potential employers will often test your software skills, especially if they are essential for the role you are applying for.

  1. Work Experience

Demonstrating work experience, whether paid, casual or voluntary, can make or break your resume.

Include details, such as employer name, location, role, and dates of employment. And then show how you made a difference. What were your responsibilities in the role? What did you achieve?

If you worked on the crew at Macca’s, you could talk about working as part of a team, delivering top quality customer service, and the challenges of producing results in short timeframes.

If you helped out in the family business, focus on your contribution. Perhaps you designed a new spreadsheet to capture important information, or assisted customers in-store.

  1. Interests

Along with #5, this is your chance to tell recruiters and potential employers more about you as an individual. Interests should generally fall into three categories:

  • Relevant to the job

If you’re applying for a role at a building consultancy, an interest in modern architecture could be a real plus. Just make sure you can talk about it in some detail.

  • Showcase for your skills

Don’t just list one word, like “Sailing”, and leave it at that. Mention your participation in local regattas, and any good race results; include your role on the yacht club social committee.

  • Plain quirky

Juggling, acrobatics, and collecting paperclips show your originality, and can be useful conversation openers at interview stage.

  1. Referees

Include the full name, job title, organisation, email and telephone number of two referees. Ideally, these should be people you have worked with, such as a shift manager or team leader. If you don’t have much prior work experience, you could always ask someone who knows you well, e.g. a family friend or high school teacher to be a referee.

Ask your referees before providing their details to recruiters and potential employers.

  1. Spellcheck

Run a spellcheck through your resume, then print out a copy and read it from start to finish. Ask a couple of trusted friends or family to look through the final draft. They might just find the one error you’ve overlooked.