How to find your first job

A young person is sitting on giant 3D green letters that say: "Job". There is a laptop next to them and they are holding a CV to represent looking for a first job. The backgrop is an orange sky with white clouds.

A guide to finding your first job

Looking for part time jobs? Want to work from home? Not sure what you’re looking for? Getting started in the world of work can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! We spoke to our friends at NOW, who answered some of your most asked questions about finding your first job.

It can be hard to look for jobs – Where is best to look for jobs and which places can you trust? 

Use trusted job sites such as Reed, Indeed, Total Jobs, Monster Jobs, CV Library and LinkedIn. There are also industry-specific job sites, so make sure to do your research on the industry and role you want to work in. Remember: Legitimate job sites and adverts will never ask you to pay anything.  

For an extra boost, try signing up with employment agencies, as they have large pipelines of job opportunities and may prioritise you if you’re already on the books. Remember: Legitimate agencies should never charge you a fee, but they may take a small percentage of your salary.   

If you are starting with no experience, you might want to sign up for temporary agency work. This can help build experience and give you exposure to various work settings, plus get your foot in the door with some great organisations. Some generalist employment agencies include Reed, Hayes, Huntress, Adecco, Morgan Hunt, Michael Page, and plenty of industry-specific agencies.  

How can I make the most of LinkedIn – networking, promoting, etc?

  • Ensure you have a professional profile picture (try to avoid selfies if you can).
  • Make connections with people working for organisations/ industries that interest you – LinkedIn is an excellent tool for this.
  • Join groups that align with your interests both professionally and personally.
  • Get someone to add a recommendation to boost your profile – it can be awkward to ask, but it’s a great tool for recruiters and hiring managers.
  • Add skills to your profile – it helps give a flavour of what you do best.
  • Be mindful about what you post as LinkedIn is a professional network – keep your weekend shenanigans for Instagram (even better, make this account private).

Is searching/applying for jobs on LinkedIn a good use of time compared to other sites? 

LinkedIn is a great job board, but different companies use different job sites for advertising, so it’s better to split your time applying across various sites. 

When applying for a job, ensure you have thoroughly read the job role, and you meet most of the requirements listed to be in with a better chance of securing an interview.

What are some good questions to ask an employer in an interview? 

Take a look at how recruitment firm Reed positions its career advice. The page highlights different types of questions to ask during an interview.  

Is going into a small start-up business better than joining a big organisation? 

Candidate requirements can differ per company, and yes, sometimes it can be more competitive when applying for big well-known brands. However, the key thing to go by when applying for jobs is the job requirements. If you meet most of the job requirements listed, the organisation’s size shouldn’t matter.

More prominent organisations tend to have more graduate, trainee and apprenticeship schemes, so check their careers page for this.  

How can I navigate grad scheme jobs and assessment centres? 

Schemes will be listed on the company’s careers pages, with instructions on how to apply. Remember: If you get stuck, you can generally call a careers advisor at your uni to help you navigate this journey.  

What if I don’t have any relevant experience?

  • You can draw on experience that isn’t directly related to the job you are applying for.
  • Work experience – can be anything from an office job to hospitality work. It doesn’t have to be full time, part time jobs count.
  • Entrepreneurial experience – have you ever sold your old clothes on Depop or eBay? Have you ever made and sold creative products on sites like Etsy? This is all valid and gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘work from home’.
  • Volunteering and fundraising – this can involve volunteering in an old people’s home, at a charity shop or fundraising via a marathon or family fun run.

What are the fundamentals of a great CV?

Make your CV easy to read so the important bits don’t get lost. The information on your CV is best laid out in clearly labelled sections, generally in the following order:  

  • Personal details  
  • Summary statement  
  • Current or last employment  
  • Previous employment history (including part time jobs)
  • Education  
  • Training and specialist skills  
  • Achievements  
  • Extracurricular activities/ volunteering  
  • References ‘available on request’  
  • Use a combination of brief paragraphs and bullet points – with a modern, clear font such as Calibri or Arial and make sure the pages don’t look cluttered 

What should a personal profile at the top of a CV contain?

  • Three or four sentences 
  • Describe who you are 
  • State your relevant experience 
  • Express your motivation for applying – this needs to be relevant to the job/programme you’re applying to 

How should I display my education history on a CV?

  • When formatting, use this order: course, institution, location, dates 
  • List each level of education in reverse chronological order (most recent first)
  • Pull out modules, grades and projects if they’re relevant to the job requirements 

How can I make my CV stand out?

  • Write a powerful personal statement that shows you are really passionate about the role
  • Write a tailored application for that specific role (including CV or cover letter if required) 
  • Avoid using clichés 
  • Use ‘I’ not ‘we ‘when referring to yourself   
  • Go digital  
  • Include relevant links in your CV  
  • Correct errors and mistakes (get a friend or family member to read over your work) 
  • Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date – your CV can be used to build your LinkedIn profile too. 

Need more support with the world of work?

Head to our work and study hub to find more interview tips, cv support and information on your worker’s rights.

Next Steps

  • Free, short online courses for young people about relationships, mental health and getting a job.
  • CV-Library is the UK's fastest-growing job site, with 186,164 live vacancies across all industries. You can find more career advice written by experts on their website.
  • Search Do-it for information about volunteering and opportunities in your local area.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Holly Turner

Updated on 25-Jul-2022

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