The do’s and don’ts of finding your first job

Your first job is usually the most difficult to find. With little to no professional experience behind you, convincing a hiring manager that you’re the one they want can seem like an impossible task. It’s also your first time tackling the interview process, another difficult undertaking. To get yourself as amped up and prepared as possible, the following are some do’s and don’ts of finding your first job.


DO update and edit your resume

Be meticulous. Any mistake or error found on your resume will rule out your chance of getting an interview. Ask your parents, your mentor or a peer to comb through your experience to make sure grammar is correct, everything is formatted in a clear and organized manner and everything is spelled correctly. Also, be sure to update your resume with your most recent experience as well as your most up-to-date contact information.


DON’T reuse the same cover letter over and over

Try your best to apply to each job with a fresh approach. Look closely at the job descriptions and make an effort to edit your cover letter to reflect what the company is hiring for. Never lie, but instead play up the skills and experience the company is most interested in. The key to finding your first job is to customize your application materials per company that you’re applying to.


finding your first job


DO use the internet as a job searching tool

In some ways, finding your first job is easier than it’s ever been. There are so many job websites and search tools that you can use to find openings around the country – and world. Make sure to create a LinkedIn profile and search for jobs that way, especially jobs connected through your networks where you might have an “in.” Indeed is a solid search tool, as are Glassdoor and CareerBuilder. Check alumni groups (Facebook, LinkedIn) and listservs from your university that also might post job openings and opportunities. There are also industry-focused sites where you can find listings for just your career field.


DON’T rely exclusively on online job applications

With hundreds of applicants for most jobs, sending an online application is often not enough to really grab a hiring manager’s attention. That’s why you should always check to see if anyone in your network works, or knows someone who works wherever you’re applying. If you do know someone at the company, be sure to reach out to that person and maybe ask some questions about the company before you send in your cover letter. Another strategy is if there’s a company in your city that you really want to work for, go ahead and reach out to someone in your area who works there and ask if they would mind getting coffee. Pick their brain about what made them successful and let them know what ambitions you have. Next time there’s an opening you’re qualified for, you’ll have a connection.


DO network and reach out to established professionals in your field

In-person connections are always better than virtual ones. That’s why it’s also important to go to networking events where you can meet and mingle with other industry professionals. Practice a short introduction speech before you approach people in an assertive and respectful way.


finding your first job


DON’T send out mass, impersonal emails

Quality is always better than quantity when it comes to networking. It’s better to write one thoughtful email reaching out to someone than 100 generic emails. Networking at its core is relationship-building. Relationships need time and labor in order to flourish.


DO consider an internship if you’re lacking relevant experience

Never rule out the possibility of a professional internship, if you’re seeing that most employers aren’t giving you the time of day when finding your find job. Internships are becoming the standard in many industries. Internships are a great way to develop professional relationships, boost your resume and gain professional, real-world experience that employers are looking for.


DON’T be too picky

Remember to keep your mind open when you’re applying to your first job. You’re just starting to climb the career ladder, so there are bigger and better things to come. Appreciate the chance to learn from your peers, even if you’re not at your dream job yet.


Now that you know the do’s and don’ts of finding your first job, learn more about how to make your resume stand out with an international internship.






1. based on Girl Using Laptop in park, by CollegeDegrees360, CC-by-SA 2.0

2. based on 2006-02-14 005, by Michael Nutt, CC-by-SA 2.0

3. based on Networking, by, CC-by-2.0


The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

To learn how to apply to our internship programs, click here.


Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.
Subscribe to our newsletter

1 Comment

  1. Sandrene Carlos on March 16, 2018 at 4:56 am

    It is true that first job is usually most difficult to find because employers tend to hire a person who has a experience. Sometimes some employers think that a fresh grad can’t settle long enough in a job because nowadays millennial’s love to explore other careers at a time. In conclusion, they have no loyalty. I agree with all your tips. As a fresh grad, you should have idea’s when it comes to finding a job. I hope your article can read by those people who are looking for their first job, especially fresh grads. This will be helpful for them.

Leave a Comment