Job Search Pitfalls For the First Time Worker

Finding a first job can be a trial. You lack experience. You lack contacts. You lack…well the list of all of your deficits would be too large for this article. (Really sorry). To make matters worse, all of those Fast Food joints who advertise as being primarily staffed by teenagers, well the average employee age is 29 years old. What does that mean? Young first time workers will need to compete with seasoned professionals for a mind-numbing minimum wage job flipping burgers or scooping ice cream for irate customers.

Here’s a bit of good news. You can still beat out all of those older, experienced adults for the job. In order to land that job, you should steer clear of these rookie mistakes.

Step One: Questionnaire/Personality Test Beware

The majority of entry level positions require potential candidates answer a very long and very boring questionnaire. It’s just a little quiz, you might think. Wrong. The questionnaire is a method to systematically and mathematically collect a vast collection of “bad” candidates. “Bad” being defined in most cases as a thieving thug with no morals, an introverted curmudgeon with no desire to socialize, and an up-start with no ability or desire to listen to orders.

Here are a few tips to ace this exam:

  • Some questions only have one right answer. Answer the question appropriately even if you don’t ethically believe it. For example the question (do you believe you have the right to take products from the store without paying for them) is meant to be answered with a very firm NO.
  • Re-read questions. Some questions are tricky. Read carefully. If you’re unsure what the question is asking, ask a friend or family member to interpret.
  • For the more personality geared questions, you might want to understate some of your less desirable traits. You have a habit of never listening to your superiors, as of right now you’re pretty good at taking advice.

Step Two: Full-time, Don’t Make Me Laugh

Full-time entry level food service or department store jobs are remnants of a distant past. Today, large corporations reserve full-time positions to tenured or managerial level employees. Why?

It’s a matter of money. The Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare requires businesses with fifty or more full-time employees to either provide health insurance or pay a penalty. Many of the companies would rather spend a little extra money training more part-time employees (30 hours a week or less) than providing insurance.

Long story short: if you want employers to call you back, don’t just check off that you want full-time. Make it very clear you would be willing to work part-time. Not ideal, but a reality you must deal with.

Step Three: Don’t Short Change Your Resume

As a first-time job seeker, you might find yourself wracking your brain to locate credentials and experiences to flesh out your resume. Here’s something that many people don’t realize: education and clubs can count as actionable experience.

Have you led any group projects? Have you collaborated with a team on reports? Have you managed to ace a report despite an overwhelming work load? Think of big projects or unique experiences you’ve been assigned in the last year. Once you’ve listed down as many as you can think of, determine which projects have managed to allow you to demonstrate core skills (team work, stress management, etc.) that could be useful at your potential workplace.

Add any identified experiences to your resume. Be concrete. If you were the group manager on the project, write down how many people you led. If the job doesn’t call for a resume, you will still be able to utilize the experiences you identify in the job interview.

Locating a first job can be a momentous task. Despite the difficulty, first time job seekers can successfully land a job. You can significantly decrease the amount of time you will need to search for a job by steering clear of these three career pitfalls.


Samantha Stauf

Samantha Stauf graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in technical writing. In the last year and a half, she has been working in the marketing department at a local start-up

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