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4 secrets to landing your first job

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay | 07 June 2019


Whether you’re fresh out of high school or wrapping up the ends of your 4-year, undergraduate student journey; chasing down your dream career sets a fire in your belly like no other. But landing that ideal gig won’t be as easy as showing up at the company’s doorstep, and you’ve likely got about 60 to 250 other applicants to compete with. 

Fortunately, recent reports show a projected employment increase in 17 of Australia’s top 19 industries – so prospects are looking up for job-hunters. For those making their first step towards a career, here are four actionable tips to help you out. 

How do you successfully land that first job?

  1. Impress on paper.
  2. Develop “work-ready” skills.
  3. Practise your interview skills.
  4. Network, online and offline.

1. Impress on paper.

And by “impress”, we mean more than simply listing your employment history. 

In 2017, ABC Australia published an article by Alex McClintock detailing his experience as a recruiter for the company. He describes how he sifted through applications, continuously disappointed with the cold, templated approach to their cover letters. 

“When you’re job hunting, you need to write an original cover letter for every job you apply for – changing the subject line ain’t going to cut it,” he writes. 

Sending a copy-and-pasted advertisement of your skills will send the message that you haven’t truly taken the time to understand the company’s needs, their business goals, and their culture.  

To genuinely present yourself as the ideal candidate for the job, you’ve got to tailor both your cover letter and resume to fit the role advertised. Research will come in handy at this point; be sure to detail how your specific skills will solve any problems they may be facing, addressing each requirement discussed in the job ad. 

ScoutJobs Australia also advises the use of “statistical evidence” to highlight your accomplishments. For example, perhaps your previous company’s social media grew 40% since you came onboard as their digital marketer. This type of information is far more appealing than a typical (and vague) statement of, “I’m highly proficient in social media management.

2. Develop “work-ready” skills.

business man tying shoes

In a 2017 McCrindle report on Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) industry, more than 78% of graduates were reported to obtain employment shortly after their studies.

The importance of undertaking VET study has been endlessly reiterated by country’s skills sector, with the government describing it as “central to Australia’s economic growth and business productivity.” 

Vocational education is designed to equip you with the practical skills and knowledge to be a fully qualified worker in your field – and those looking to land their first, ideal job can benefit from the valuable training it has to offer. Being skills-based and generally more hands-on than traditional education, it helps you become a “work-ready” candidate in your industry.

The best part is that the VET sector has plenty of course options that cater to all types of prospering trades and professions. Many are available online, such as those offered by Upskilled – a leading Australian RTO that provides a wide range of nationally-recognised qualifications, whether you’re a budding business leader or have an affinity to code.

3. Practise your interview skills.

Now that you’ve impressed on paper, it’s time to impress in person

33% of managers reportedly know if they’re hiring a candidate within the first 90 seconds of an interview. Once you enter the room, it’s imperative to be well-versed in the company and their mission, and be prepared to explain how you can bring value to their organisation. 

According to SEEK Australia, job-hunters should expect these five types of common interview questions: behavioural, situational, competency, cultural, and salary.

Behavioural, cultural, and situational questions are similar: they’re designed to assess your character and response to hypothetical scenarios – usually stressful or high-pressure situations. Competency questions inquire on your strengths; though it’s best to avoid bragging. Instead, describe how your best abilities were able to benefit the goals of past employers, and how they’ll be an advantage to your new role. 

Finally, you’ll likely be inquired on your salary expectations, so ensure you’re well-researched on just how much your position is worth. You can also mention that your expected rate is negotiable, should landing the role be more important than financial gain. 

Take your time to craft potential answers to each of these question types; do this well in advance and practice how to deliver them with importance. It’s also worth noting that 55% of the impact you make on a potential employer comes from the way you dress and carry yourself – so be sure to look well-presented and professional. 

Lastly, prepare a set of questions you may have about the role and company. Not only will this show further interest in the role, it’ll provide greater insight into the business culture and potential career progression. 

4. Network, online and offline.

young woman smiling while messaging on phone

It’s no surprise that networking isn’t the most popular activity; but a nevertheless essential key to making professional connections and finding your ideal career fit. 

Networking events are not only perfect opportunities for obtaining career advice, new ideas, and building on your business network – they’re also effective in improving your interpersonal skills. 

Additionally, a statistic from Top Resume shows that 80% of available jobs are not advertised online, so it may help to rub shoulders with other industry professionals in the real world; who knows, you may just find someone who’s interested in your skills.

Hub Australia advises networking “newbies” to reflect on the types of events that can best suit them and their business goals. If you’re an introvert, you may benefit more from smaller, more exclusive get-togethers; while those looking to meet all kinds of people from different roles and professional backgrounds may do well in larger industry events.

Of course, in the digital age we live in – it’s important to not neglect the importance of social media. 

73% of companies use a social media platform to hunt down new recruits, so it pays well to have a well-marketed online presence. LinkedIn is a popular place to start; with around 500 million people using the platform for business opportunities, it’s the perfect hub for connecting with fellow experts and prospective employers. 

Whether you’re networking online or in real life, it’s important remain personal and genuine – coming off too “sales-y” often fails to build meaningful rapport

Ready to land your first job? 

Taking that first step in your career can be as nerve-wracking as it is exciting, but with the right preparation, skills, and connections, you’ll be on your way towards your dream job in no time.

As mentioned, one of the most effective ways to stand out to potential employers is equipping yourself with work-ready skills specific to your industry. 

Here at Upskilled, we offer over 80 qualifications in areas such as community services, business, or information technology. The best part is; they’re all flexibly delivered online to suit your schedule and commitments. Enquire today to find the right course for you and your career goals. 
 
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