They say, “Everyone needs a start in life.” Well, we all do, it’s true. Yet people often can get stuck in a ‘catch 22’ situation when it comes to getting their foot in the door with a new employer, especially if you’ve just left school or are a recent graduate. Don’t be deterred or give in too easily though, with some networking and forethought you can achieve great things.
Think about what motivates you, your skills and knowledge. You might also have gained some invaluable voluntary work or work-related experience, giving you an indication of what you’d enjoy doing as a career. Consider alternative too, but be ambitious and do your research to find out what kind of opportunities are available.
By understanding what you do best and where your weaknesses lie, you will be able to address issues and promote your best attributes to a potential employer – before, during and maybe after a job interview.
Consider undertaking further educational courses or training – perhaps those that are specific to a particular industry. If required, work on turning any qualification, competency and training-related weaknesses into strengths. You could also try to find an employer who’s willing to train you, or allow you to undertake certain courses while you are still working. You might have other kinds of weaknesses: what are they, and how can you turn them into strengths?
There are always factors that are beyond our personal control, so by doing some research into a market of interest you will be able to discover where the key opportunities lie and what might prevent you from achieving your ambitions. When you examine opportunities and threats to potential opportunities within your chosen field, don’t forget to think how your strengths and weaknesses enhance or minimise them.
In your CVs and cover letters you should always bring out what is most of interest to an employer. Try to create CVs that target the needs of a particular employer by researching a little about the company, and don’t forget to also read job advertisements carefully. Employers want to know that you have put some effort and thought into your communications with them. A general over-arching CV and cover letter will not impress.
While job ads are an excellent source of information about the latest vacancies, they aren’t your only tool to get your foot in the door. Show employers that you are able to use all of the resources that are available. You can use social networking tools like Linkedin or Twitter, job or industry-related networking events and trade shows or conferences, as well as asking friends and family to help you. It’s also worth picking up the phone to introduce yourself to the appropriate decision-maker, and then sending in your CV and cover letter on request to hopefully gain an interview.
It’s not the end of the process when you’ve been invited to an interview. In many cases interviews are your first opportunity to speak to your prospective employer directly. So you need to be prepared to answer sometimes difficult questions about your personal strengths and weaknesses to demonstrate that you are the right person for the available opportunity. It also helps to do some research into the company, so that you can show your interest in the business or organisation, and knowledge of its products or services, its market and customers.
You will probably find that your first job won’t land at your feet and might face a number of rejections before you manage to get your foot in the door with an employer. The important thing is to remain active by not giving up, using your initiative, looking after yourself, being self-motivated and maybe even taking on another temporary role which will give you good experience and enhance your CV.
We wish you the best of luck!