You roamed the halls of your university for four years (or more), endured the late nights and toiled tirelessly to meet deadlines. Before you know it, your college life comes to a close. If it hasn’t sunk in yet, welcome to the next chapter–work, or should I say, looking for one.
Before you even get the chance to warm up to your well-deserved diploma, you are now faced with the anxious but thrilling task of finding your first job. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Play to your strengths
An obvious but often unheeded piece of advice: As much as possible, you should align your degree to the position you’re applying for. It’s time to cash in on those years of hardship. If you find it difficult to align your degree to your career path, you should—at least–consider your hard and soft skills. In a nutshell, hard skills are specific abilities that can be taught and measured (basically what you got in college and the backbone of your degree). Soft skills on the other hand are harder to measure, but are equally important in the work environment. These may include self-management skills like self-confidence, stress management or people skills like communication and networking.
By now you should more or less have an idea of what you want to do and what kind of future you see for yourself, career-wise that is. If the work you want is out of reach, take steps to put yourself in a more favorable position. Get a Master’s degree, attend short courses, go to seminars, or even get a second degree.
Another crucial thing about your first job is that they can dictate the trajectory of your career. You should take your time in planning which industry and which company to apply for. Don’t rush. Remember, you’re starting to build credibility and employers look for it first on a resume, which brings us to the next tip.
Write that perfect resume
Fresh grads make the common mistake of beefing up their resume by adding unnecessary elements that do more harm than good. Some bad examples:
- Lying on your resume. Padding your credentials with fake details/information is a guaranteed one-way ticket to the company blacklist.
- Adding unnecessary information. According to a study, recruiters only allot an average of 6 seconds per individual resume. A cluttered, busy-looking resume not only hurts the eyes of the recruiter, but your chances of getting considered as well. Make those six seconds count!
- Writing “watching movies”, “eating”, and “sleeping” as your hobbies on the Personal Background section. Unless those are essential to the role, keep this section personal while being professional.
A good resume should show your accomplishments, your experience in the field you want to work in, your skills applicable for the job, co-curricular activities (which is also important!), major research papers, and trainings/seminars that are related to the work. Try to keep it short but packed with enough information that shows you at your best (truthful) light. 2 pages maximum, with a professional font style like Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri should make for a standard resume format. A more creative and personalized format can be used as long as it is appropriate to the industry, say for example if you’re applying for an advertising or creative agency.
Apply, apply, apply
It goes without saying, but sending out applications to different companies will increase your chances of getting that sweet, sweet call. Through online job search portals such as JobStreet and Kalibrr, looking for open positions and sending out resumes take only seconds, so you have no reason to procrastinate.
Don’t fret if your job hunting is taking a while to reach fruition. While waiting, brush up on your entrance exam reviewers. You will need it for various aptitude/IQ tests of varying difficulty given by the companies.
Better be prepared
Let’s say that you already have an interview scheduled for that company you really want to work for. Are you prepared for the questions that will come your way? In preparation, try to do a quick run-through of their history, structure, products/services, key people, and of course the role you are applying for. Trust me, when it comes to preparation, it’s better to be over than under.
It also helps if you do interview dry runs. Write down your possible responses and rehearse by yourself or with your friends. It helps a lot if you get mentoring from someone with substantial experience in doing interviews or, better yet, experience in human resources. A dry run may not be the real thing, yes, but it goes a long way in calming down the nerves.
It’s also a good idea to take note of the following documents and prepare them as early as now. It will be asked from you when you finally land your dream job.
- NBI Clearance
- Police Clearance
- Birth Certificate (NSO Copy)
- College Diploma and Transcript of Records
- ID Pictures (1×1 and 2×2 are common sizes)
- Valid IDs (Original and photocopy)
- SSS, Philhealth, Pag-ibig, and TIN numbers
Tip: Go to one-stop government centers located at several malls. You can accomplish most of these in one day.
Look the part!
What good is your physical attendance when you’re mentally absent? People adjust their working hours to try and be more productive, when in reality, their efficiency suffers during the day when a proper night’s sleep isn’t a priority. Going to bed at the same hour every night is the start of a good habit. Work your way up to a complete rest of 8 hours per day and notice the drastic change in your energy, all while looking fresh and ready to seize the day.
Of course, more than just minimizing your eye bags, you need to dress the part as well. Leave your cargo shorts and ripped jeans behind, and embrace the new you by sporting long-sleeved shirts, slacks, skirts, and blazers. Remember, showing up to an interview with the proper attire could spell the difference between an offer sheet and a rejection.
Enjoy the ride
Fresh out of college and eager to prove yourself? A heart set on something is a force that moves mountains, and right now, you see a vision of yourself with your dream job, a comfortable life, and surrounded by people you love. By all means, go at it with all you’ve got! Just remember that it won’t happen overnight. Success stories are rarely driven by just luck. They are a combination of hard work, patience, the right skills, and the right people. Learn quickly and adapt, but don’t rush or you’ll lose sight of the important things – life lessons, the people you’ve met, the skills you’ve picked up along the way.
Read more: 5 Good Reasons to Start a Career in Banking
Looking to start a career in banking? Learn about our available career opportunities by visiting our career page.