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My first job search - where do I start?

Posted on from Robert Half

It’s not easy when first embarking on your job search to know how to present yourself and your abilities to potential employers. To get a foot in the door and take advantage of opportunities, graduates should try following these simple steps when applying for that initial position.

Be strategic in approach

Quality over quantity is always more effective than a ‘scatter gun’ approach. Do some research before you apply to a role to find out what skills are in demand in your chosen industry; this will enable you to check beforehand if your experience and CV can match any of these gaps and give you a higher chance of success. 

Being strategic also means finding a workplace that fits with your values, something you ultimately have the power over. Doing this research beforehand can mean that your passions will come across during the interview, enabling the employer to sense you’ll be a good fit for the team. You can get a good idea of a company’s culture by looking at their ‘work for us’ section online or reading news stories. 

Your CV and covering letter

Once you've done some research into the type of role and industry you're interested in, it's time to move onto the application stage. If this requires sending your CV to the company, you should always attach a covering letter. This is the first contact you will have with a potential employer and an important opportunity for you to introduce and sell yourself. Be targeted in your approach and ensure you tailor each CV and covering letter to the individual position and/or recruiter in order to give yourself the best possible chance of success.

Finally, for your CV and covering letter, check and check again - a careless spelling error or grammatical mistake can mean the difference between you and another candidate getting the job.

The interview stage

Interviews are a daunting prospect, particularly if you haven’t had much experience. However, ensuring you are fully prepared, by doing some background research on the company, can make you feel more confident and ultimately perform better. 

Before going into the interview, consider what you want to say and why you want the job, and always bring a copy of your CV with you so you know what the interviewer might refer to during the session.

Remember, the interview is a chance to not only sell yourself but for you to find out as much as possible about the company and position you are interested in. If you’re given the opportunity to ask questions, make sure you use it - by asking intelligent questions you will come across as interested and switched on.  

Tackling the Challenge head on

Finding a job at any level is never easy, but the first time you do it will seem like one of the most challenging.

With so much competition and limited vacancies in some sectors, it’s important you take proactive steps to ensure you present yourself to employers in the best light possible, and simple steps, such as those mentioned above, can certainly go a long way in helping you secure your first position. 

Do log on to for more job-searching tips, such as on how to write a good CV.

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