Top 5 Questions From First-Time Job Searchers

You’re finishing up school and getting ready to launch your career. This means it’s time to start putting together a new resume, get scanning through the job listing sites and begin using whatever contacts you have to find out what’s out there you can apply to.

This process makes a lot of people nervous, and understandably so — it’s your first time applying to a career job, you’re not yet an experienced professional with a lengthy resume, and there’s a lot about the job search and application process you haven’t experienced.

I’ve seen a lot of recent grads feel totally lost with how they approach this, and overwhelmed with questions about everything from where to apply to post-interview etiquette.

But don’t worry, because even though it may feel overwhelming, many young job-applicants have raised these questions before, and they all have answers.

Here are the top 5 questions I hear from first-job job seekers.

Will they even look at my resume?

You may be worried that your resume is a bit short (it is your first time looking for a career job after all), and that nobody will bother reading it.

Well don’t worry, because every resume gets read — but it will probably be looked at for less than a minute. Note: large companies and organizations may use resume-scanning software to look for required keywords before a human reads it.

Even though under a minute may not seem like a lot, you can still have your resume stand out by really highlighting your relevant qualifications. This doesn’t mean only work history, but also includes education and any volunteering or non-curricular activities relevant to the job.

What kind of job should I apply for?

It can be tempting to start sending off resumes to all the entry-levels jobs you can find, and hope that at least one will get back to you.

This isn’t a good approach, because companies spend time carefully writing a job listing for a reason: they have some specific qualifications in mind that will have to be met by any applicant who wants to get an interview.

So take your time and read over the qualifications before clicking “apply,” as finding a posting that matches your education and background will greatly increase your odds of a callback.

Should I apply even if I don’t have the exact qualifications?

That being said, you may find jobs that you semi-qualify for, perhaps asking for 2 years’ experience when you only have one (or less). It’s OK to still apply for these positions, but just make sure you keep your expectations in check and be prepared not to get an interview.

Should I call them to ask about my application?

Doing a follow-up call asking about your job application is an old-school practice that might have worked for our parents.

The thinking apparently was that calling would show them how interested you are in the job. But these days following up is frowned upon by the hiring manager or HR person, who are simply too busy to even think about responding.

The fact is many organizations have established a routine set of processes for recruiting, including application intake, candidate assessment and interview shortlisting. This system helps ensure job decisions are made fairly, and can’t be overruled by a persistent after-application phone call.

Why didn’t I get an interview?

You wait one week, then another, then another, but don’t hear back. Unfortunately, you didn’t get an interview. You may be beating yourself up over it, but remember that when you’re starting your career you don’t have much career work experience, and experience is the No. 1 factor that gets people interviews.

Also remember that jobs these days, even entry-level ones, are highly competitive, with hundreds or even thousands of applicants now very common.

So don’t get defeated, just keep looking for other positions and applying, as you will find the right fit and get a call eventually. I’ve never had a client fail to get a job, and a lot of the time it’s right when people start losing hope that multiple offers start coming in.

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