Hunting for your very first job might seem a little daunting, but there are several ways you can up your chances of getting hired without previous work experience:
- Start with the people you know—tell your friends, teachers, coaches, and neighbors you are looking for a job. Sometimes it just takes a connection to get your foot in the door.
- Use all the resources available to find job openings, including online job sites, local newspapers, signs in store windows, flyers, etc. However, you don’t always have to wait for a sign or posting. Think of realistic places you would like to work and be proactive. Go inside with a resume ready and ask the manager if they are hiring or will be hiring soon. Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking at the right time, like right after someone quit and before a posting has gone up.
- Look at the right time. Employers often hire summer employees in April or May. In college towns, there’s also a lot of turnover between semesters (at the end of the summer and in December). You will likely find more job openings during these key months.
- Apply for several jobs to increase your chances that one will work out.
Once you have found job openings and are in the process of applying and interviewing, here are a few ways to impress employers and show them you are worth hiring:
- Since you don’t have previous work experience to put on a resume, include other experiences that show the kind of person you are. Include academic work, volunteer work, school awards, skills, and extracurricular activities. Employers of entry-level part-time jobs are looking for people who are responsible, reliable, hardworking, and good learners. You can even show evidence of those attributes through a science fair project, music or sports accomplishments, writing for your school newspaper, or babysitting. Just make sure your resume is proofread and well written. A resume full of typos will not impress an employer.
- Have a list of at least three references you can give your employer. These three references should be non-family members, should be able to attest to your character and work ethic, and should be asked to be your references in advance. You could ask teachers, coaches, religious leaders, etc. On your list, provide their names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and how they know you.
- Make your work availability as open as possible. Employers are less likely to hire someone who can only work few or odd hours.
- When turning in an application or going to an interview, look good. Get a haircut, dress modestly, and dress professionally. Don’t overdo it, but look presentable.
- Learn about the businesses you are applying at so you are familiar with how things are run when talking to a manager. Know a little about the menu, about what the store sells, who their target clientele is, etc.
- Have a positive, upbeat attitude. Many entry-level jobs involve customer service, so be personable in your interviews.
- If you haven’t heard back after a week or so, ask to speak with the manager (in person or on the phone) and follow up. Ask if he/she had a chance to look over your resume. This shows you care and are organized and proactive.
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