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How to Choose a Career & Get Your First Job

How to Choose a Career & Get Your First Job

22 November 2022

Choosing a career path can seem daunting. Applying for your first job and setting out a path to a successful career that best suits you can take time. It’s likely to shift multiple times in your working life, so you’ll probably think about your career path more than just once. According to the US Department of Labor, the average person will change careers 5-7 times during their working life and approximately 30% of the total workforce will change jobs every 12 months.

We’ve put together a guide to help you throughout your work life, including tips for your first job, steps to start thinking about setting up a career that’s best for you, and ideas on boosting your CV, which is one of the important tools in facilitating your work life.

How To Get Your First Job

Getting your first job is the initial step into learning valuable and transferable skills as well as starting to create your network of professionals. It can also give an indication into the type of industry you might like or dislike, shaping your future career.

Check out some tips on how to get your first job:

1. Think about your likes, interests, and strengths

Beginning your first job is always overwhelming, so going into something that has elements of your interests and strengths is going to help ease that, and most likely give you a little confidence when you start. Researching jobs that you are more likely to enjoy is a key step in kick-starting your career. For example, if you’re a creative person who loves writing, there’s no point applying for jobs in data heavy industries that you’re not going to enjoy – and vice versa!

Looking for jobs with elements of your previous interests or strengths is more likely going to end up in success – you’ve probably had previous experience with skills relevant to the job you’re applying to.

2. Set your expectations & think about your experience

Your first job might not be your dream one, or one that gets you the most money! High-paying jobs are more likely to require prior experience, which you might not have as a newbie to the working world. As a result, you should set realistic expectations and take any opportunities you can. They’ll be invaluable for your career development and provide you with plenty of experience and transferable skills for later down the line.

3. Network with who you can

Although you might not have a broad professional network yet, networking with friends, family, peers, and whoever else you can is invaluable when looking for a job. Put simply, the more connections you have, the more likely you are to be presented with job opportunities organically, and these connections will stay with you for a long time after your first job.

People Networking

4. Write a CV

When applying for jobs, you’ll need a slick and professional CV that’s tailored to the specific job role you’re applying for. Check out our tips on boosting your CV later in this article.

5. Prepare!

Whether you’re having your initial telephone screening or going into the office for a final stage interview, preparation is key. Look over the job description, and even do a little research around the company and the role; like the types of skills they’re looking for in order to impress the interviewer and give you the best opportunity to land your very first job.

6. Follow Up

Although this isn’t a must, plenty of companies will be thankful for a simple follow-up after an interview, and this could even sway their opinion in a positive direction. Showing that you care is a positive for many recruitment teams, so a ‘thank you’ email showing your appreciation is always a plus.

How To Choose a Career

Choosing a career isn’t a quick decision. And it can often take time to find a direction you’re happy with. We have a few quick tips to start thinking about your career, its progression, and direction.

1. Look for your strengths and motivations

Just like with looking for your first job, thinking about a long-term career path should start with your strengths. Think about what you enjoy doing, what you enjoy learning about, and what you value. Doing something you value in your career is a driver for motivation, dedication, success and so much more. These values could be anything from flexibility and autonomy to salary and benefits.

You can look to take self-assessment quizzes to consider your personality type, strengths, and what career might be a good fit for you. Be cautious not to take these tests as defining; however, use them to continue learning about yourself and offer direction rather than a definitive answer.

2. Think about your long-term goals

It is the classic question, ‘where do you see yourself in 10 years?’. But your long-term goals can have a real impact on your career and so should be a factor to consider when looking to get started, or even re-started.

For example, is your job something you want to develop in for many years? Does that job accommodate that? Do you want the flexibility to have a family, travel, and so on? Would your job allow for this?

3. Explore the different industries out there and do your research

Research is key. Learning more about each sector and industry and its respective goals can indicate where you might be a strong fit. Look up what the public, private, and non-profit sectors have to offer. See what kind of industries sound interesting to you, from commerce and construction to financial services and education.

Woman researching

How To Boost Your CV

A CV is a must-have for job applications. It is a professional document that outlines your work and education experiences, and an optimised CV can boost your chances of getting an interview.

Check out some of our tips for boosting your CV:

  1. Open with a strong summary of your skills and experience; make sure that it is engaging and informative.
  2. Make sure your CV is customised for every job application – shape it to the job role you’re going for to make sure you have the best chance of being a candidate.
  3. Research keywords to stand out to your recruiter. If you need to, take a look at the job description!
  4. Reformat where necessary and make sure a recruiter can scan your document quickly and efficiently.
  5. Strip out and cut down. Your CV should be around 1-2 pages long, so strip out any unnecessary or outdated details and show a strong set of skills, experiences, and accomplishments.
  6. Show results as well as experiences – what have you done that you could also bring to this new company?

When it comes to a CV, it is often one of the first things that recruiters see, so you want to make it memorable. Make sure it is concise but displays relevant and impressive experience and skills that are tailored to each application. It might seem like a long and unnecessary step, but it’ll make you stand out and increase the chances of getting an interview!

Choosing a career is a process that constantly evolves and can change throughout your working life. But it all starts with your first job, so look out for applications that play to your strengths, and make sure your CV is up to date. If you think the Army Cadet Force might be where your career starts or continues keep an eye on our job vacancies page.

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