What should I choose as my first job?

There are plenty of opportunities out there, so take the time to weigh up your options. Don’t just grab the first job that comes along unless you feel it is the right step for you.

Narrowing down your options

First of all, it’s worth thinking about your skillset and interests. Make a list of your qualifications, any relevant work experience and list your hobbies. What do you definitely not want to do? Are there any limitations, for example literacy problems, fear of heights or an inability/unwillingness to get up early? Be realistic and have a think about the options available. Would you prefer to work indoors or outdoors? Alone or in a team? With young people or old people? In a customer-facing environment or with limited access to the public?

Think about the end goal

What are your long-term goals and ambitions? If you have a specific career in mind, what steps do you need to take to land your dream job? Can you work your way up the career ladder? Do you need specific experience? Will you need to undertake additional study or training? Work back from there. If you have contacts within your chosen industry, reach out to them. Connect with people on LinkedIn or through a local business forum. Contact relevant companies and ask them what you would need to do to realise your ambition. In the meantime, can they offer you relevant experience?

Does it fit into your life?

People often complain about work interfering with their social lives, but some people have to factor this in more than others. If you have young children or are a carer, for example, you may be limited in the hours you can work. Or perhaps you’re still studying but want to fit a job around your studies or you’re committed to a club, church or team that takes up a lot of your time. There are plenty of flexible opportunities on offer, so keep an eye out for those. Remember to think about whether you can afford to survive on a part-time salary if you are looking for flexibility. You may need to make some sacrifices to get the job you want.

Start small, dream big

Remember that your first job is likely to be a stepping stone to something else, so even if it isn’t a prestigious role it’s a start. You can change your job and career direction over the years, but it’s important to get some form of regular employment under your belt. You may feel as though the jobs you’re applying for won’t get you where you want to go, but you never know what contacts you’ll make through them and what transferable skills you might acquire through doing even a seemingly menial job.

Whatever you decide to do, put together a strong CV and cover letter, and tailor them to each opportunity you apply for. Prepare well for your interview, and when you get the job offer commit to giving it your very best. The job might not be your first choice, but the reference you get could make all the difference in the future.


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Joy Tibbs is a freelance writer and editor who regularly contributes to Premier. Find out more at joyofediting.co.uk and find her on Twitter @joyous25

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