Finding your very first JOB

The first lesson I learned when starting my career was to get clarity. More than finding a job it was important to find something that launched my career.

In July of 1995 I complete my BE. When I came out of college I was thinking companies would be waiting for me to complete my graduation and that I would immediately  find a job. My fields of interest was electronics or computers and I was excited with the thought of working in that field finally getting to try everything I learned. Getting a job looked easy. I was thinking it is a five steps process,

  1. Find the Listed Jobs.
  2. Apply for them.
  3. Get an interview Call.
  4. Attend the Interview.
  5. Get an Appointment Letter.

None of that happened. After a month of trying and applying randomly to every possible company I could, there were no interview calls. Nobody called it was as if none of the Jobs were for me. Totally frustrated, depressed and dejected, I hung around without much hope and started believing that my life is doomed.

It was time to learn the my first lesson in University of Life. A silver lining came in from of my uncle, who was a General Manager of R&D at a well known company at that time. He asked me a very simple question, “Why do you need a job ?”. This was a very simple question but I fumbled with answers. I immediately understood that I was not clear about why I needed the job and what I was looking for. He helped me to get clarity around my Job search. I landed a good job within weeks of our meeting.

Today after 19 years of experience that included hiring as part of my job, I have learned that Job search has remained same. Even today we find similar challenges in landing a good job after we finish our studies. There are better tools and information available but even then the finding the first job is not easy.

Based on my experience of interviewing candidates for various position what I noticed that even today people searching for a job lack in clarity. This is a bottleneck for them in landing the right job. Here I will try to help you in becoming more clear in finding the right job.

Three Steps in becoming more clear and ultimately finding the right job:

Do this exercise and get clarity around the job you are searching. Once you are clear you will be able to find the job in area of your interest. The exercise looks very simple but it is powerful. I have used this multiple times during each of my job changes. Sometimes also within the same company to move from one position to another.

Here we go, find a quiet place. Try to avoid all distractions. You can choose your favorite coffee shop or go to a park or beach. Any place where you can sit few minutes undisturbed to answer these questions. Carry a pen and paper avoid mobile , its distracting.  Give enough time to answer each question clearly.

Start writing answer to the questions below in the same order.

1. Why : “Why do I need a Job ?” :

Ask your self “Why do I need a Job ?”. Though the question looks simple it may take time to answer if you have not thought about it. Make a list of all reasons you can come up with,

  • I need money or want to become independent.
  • I want an experience in field of [YOUR FIELD OF INTEREST]
  • I want to travel [PLACES]
  • I want to help [PEOPLE]
  • I want to learn [SKILLS or TALENTS]

Whatever are your reasons just list them down. Arrange them in order of priority what you need most. It is fine to just have one reason. For some people money may be at top of their list. Other people may have some passion they want to fulfill. You should be listing what you think is important.

2. What : “What are the Skills and Talents I have ?” :

Jobs require hard and soft skills. Your skills should match with the Job you are apply for this will improve your probability of finding a job. You may have gained skills from education or experience. Education may have given you programming skills but giving a presentation to your class would give you presentation skills.

Make a list of your Basic Skills, Soft skills and Values,

  • Basic Skills you have : Basic skills are those that are absolutely required for a Job. To apply for a software developer position you should have learned programming. You should have written some programs even if they are just for a college project. This is the most important skill and will define what kind of Jobs you can apply for. Be very clear and it will help you in landing the right job. Here are some examples of basic skills,
    • Programmer
    • Database Developer
    • Writing and Editing
    • Accounting
    • Marketing and Sales
    • Project Management
  • Soft Skills you have: Soft Skills are general skills or competencies applicable to all jobs. Here are some examples of Soft Skills,
    • Good in Communication
    • Interpersonal Skills
    • Presentation Skills
  • Values you have : Values are personal qualities, habits and attitudes that make you a good employee and compatible to work with. The easiest way to list our values are by the labels people give us. Our parents, friends, teachers and co-workers generally identify us by different labels think how they translate into values. Think what labels perfectly fit you. Again be clear and list only values that you can justify.Here  are some examples of values,
    • Honest
    • Hardworking
    • Flexible and Accountable
    • Responsible

3. How : “How am I going to find a Job ?”

Generally we always start with this question. These are list of actions you are going to take to land a job. List down all the actions. Take into consideration the why and what answers so that the actions are related to your area of interest. This is what your action list may look like,

  • Update my resume on LinkedIn and 3 other Job Sites.
  • Write a Cover Letter.
  • Search and Apply for Job.
  • Find References that can help.
  • Respond to emails in 24 Hrs.
  • Make Phone Calls based on Application.
  • Prepare for Interview.
  • Attend Interview.

Once you have all the three questions answered you should have your page full. This is your One page Plan to find a right job. Read this page everyday till you find the job. It will keep you focused on the job search. And you will be able to spot and find a job more quickly.

Best of luck to all of those who are looking to find a job for the first time after completing their studies.