• Ricia Marano

How to Get, Succeed At, and Get the Most Out of Your First Job

Right now is the best time ever to get a job! Employers are eager to hire people, especially those who typically hire those applying for their first job, such as retail, restaurants, and fast food. However, there are a few steps you need to take to land a new job.

The first thing you’ll want to do is network. This is simply telling everyone you know that you are looking for a job. You want to do this because someone may be able to tell you about a place that’s hiring, or a friend may have a job at a place where they can vouch for you as a candidate. Many times people are able to find a job through someone they know so it’s worthwhile to do some networking.

Next up is writing a resume. You’ll want to have a resume as you will need one to complete online applications. Also, a resume is a living document that you will add to and change as you go along in your career. It’ll be a lot easier to remember dates and work history by starting now. Writing a resume can be challenging when you have little experience behind you, but there are many areas that can be overlooked as experience. For starters, doing yardwork or babysitting for a neighbor is work experience (they can also be a reference for you). Extracurricular activities can often offer skills as does volunteering. Even classes that you’re taking can help add to your resume. Now that you have a list of experience, you need to translate that into skills. Babysitting can give you skills like responsibility and patience as well as child care experience. The drama club can offer you verbal and non-verbal communications skills, interpersonal skills, and teamwork. Excelling in math can also be listed as a skill. As for writing the resume itself we have some blogs articles as well as job tips for both youth and adults that can help. You also can come to a career center for help.

While you’re writing your resume, you’ll want to get your references together as well. They should be professional references which is someone that can speak to your work ethic and character. Teachers, coaches, volunteer supervisors, the neighbor you do odd jobs for, all of these can be references for you. Just be sure to ask and get permission to use them as references, then get their phone number and email so they can be contacted.

Last thing you need to do before you start filling out applications, is to clean up your social media. Take down the partying pictures, negative tirades, and anything else that may place you in a damaging light. Hiring managers are known to check social media.

Choose places you would like to work and apply. Many companies use online applications, but a small local business, like a restaurant, may use paper applications. Either way, you want to be attentive to how you fill out an application. Upload your resume if it’s an option, read carefully, and fill it out as completely as possible. Applications need to be filled out using formal language conventions. This means perfect spelling and proper grammar, including using capitalization when necessary. The more care you show your application, the better the impression you make.

Now that the applications are done, you’ll want to prepare for an interview. Google interview questions to have an idea of what you may be asked. Definitely be prepared to ask questions as to how you can and are willing to do the job. Speak to your skills, abilities, and desires and to give examples. If they ask about your math skills, tell them about your excellent grades. If they ask about your customer service skills, tell them how you serve people in a soup kitchen and enjoy working with people. Lastly, be honest and expect to be nervous (everyone’s nervous in an interview).

When you do get called for an interview, dress appropriately. The rule of thumb is to dress one step above what the staff normally wear. Since many of the places you may be applying to will wear a uniform, your best bet is a button down long sleeve dress shirt or blouse and dress pants. Wear shoes, not sneakers. Leave the ball caps, heavy makeup, and hard core piercings at home (unless, of course, you’re going to work somewhere that heavy piercings are normal). You want to look professional and presentable to your future boss.

After the interview, it can’t hurt to follow up with them after a few days. Just call or email the hiring manager after a couple days to express your interest in the position and thank them for their time. Doing so may just sway their decision to you over someone else.

So you’ve landed the job. Now you want to succeed at it. There are at least ten things any employee can do no matter their abilities, experience, or talents…

Be on time – punctuality is always appreciated by both your boss and your co-workers. Believe me, there’s nothing worse than your shift being over but you can’t leave because your replacement isn’t there yet. They’re 15 minutes late. Don’t be that person.

Having a good work ethic – This covers a lot, but mostly it means doing your job and doing it well. It also means to have integrity in your work as well as following the rules, policies, and procedures.

Making an effort – No one expects you to be an expert on your job within a few days, but they do expect you to try and learn your job as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Nobody ever blames someone for trying.

Positive body language – Slumped posture, folded arms, avoiding eye contact. Do you think someone will see you as approachable or interested in your job? An upright and open posture, smiling, and making eye contact with people will show awareness and attentiveness.

Exhibiting energy – You don’t have to be bouncing off the walls like you’ve overdosed on caffeine. However, you should act and move at an even pace that says you’re ready and willing to take on any task.

Having a positive attitude – This can be about your general outlook on your job to your interactions with others. Taking this stance can take you far. Sure not everyone has a great day every day, but being positive most of the time will be appreciated. No one wants to deal with the miserable person.

Demonstrating passion – Yes that first job isn’t likely to be your dream job, but try to find something you can be passionate about. Maybe you’ll find you enjoy helping people. So make customer service your passion and promise to give every customer a pleasant experience.

Being coachable – Be willing to learn and, if presented with constructive criticism, hear it out. Ask what you can do next time to be better. This is one way to gain more skills that you can take to your next job.

Doing extra – Ask for more responsibility. Go the extra step in your work. Do something without having to be asked. Again you will gain more skills this way and may even get a promotion that will look good on a resume.

Being prepared – Be ready to do your job when you come in. Be in your uniform, have pens at the ready, start your duties on time, whatever suits your position. Being proactive is even better by having certain tasks ready/done for the next day.


Doing the above can help you get the most out of your job and set you up for a great future. Sure your first job could be just a minor stepping stone to your career, but your willingness to learn and take on more responsibility can teach lessons that you will not get taught in any school. It’s life experience, and there’s only one way to get it. You have to put yourself out there at life and work, observing and absorbing all you can. You’ll find that you can add more skills and experience to your resume in no time.


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