If you've never had a formal job before, that's OKAY! Everyone you know has been in the same position as you are right now - the beginning! This post includes some great tips to get you started preparing to fill out job applications using the skills and experience that you already have. To get started, this post will focus on three key areas:
1-Gather Your Key Information
2-Brainstorm all of Your Experience
3-Secure Your References
By focusing on these three areas, you'll have a great start to filling out your first job applications and will be more likely to get a job interview and eventual job offer! Preparing ahead of time can also help you feel less stressed and more confident throughout the job application process.
Gather Your Key Information
Some good news is that most first jobs won't require a formal resume from you. You should only need to fill out the job application. Even with a job application, you should collect your key information ahead of time so that it is easier to complete the job application and more accurate. Key information to gather for your job applications include:
~Your contact information
~List of experience along with dates associated with activities or experiences
~List of skills
~List of references with names and contact information
Make sure you have an appropriate email address to list on your job applications so that prospective employers can reach you. Starting tracking your experience and related skillsets now so that it's easier to reference later when you are completing job applications. Start tracking your references as well. More about determining experience and appropriate references is listed in the next sections!
Brainstorm all of Your Experience
Notice this section isn't called "Job" experience? Even without having a formal job yet, you still have valuable skills and experience! As you prepare to fill out your first job applications, make a list of all of your existing skills and experience so that you can highlight those on the application. Here is a quick list of 20 examples of skills and experience you might already have and that you should highlight on a job application. For even more details, check out this other blog post.
1- Military service
2- Peace Corps service
3- Americorps service
6- School trip participation
7- Volunteer projects
8- School sports team participation
9- School club participation
10- Arts club participation
11- Leadership roles (Team Captain, President, etc)
12- Student Leadership participation
13- Team work
15- Religious group activities
18- Learning a 2nd or 3rd language
19- Trade-based skills
Secure Your References
If you have not held a formal job before, you should gather three or more references to add to your job applications. What are references? References are people who know you and know your skillsets and experiences and are willing to talk with a prospective employer about you and verify your abilities. Basically, references promote you to a prospective employer! Check out this blog post for more details about working with references.
First, identify 3-5 people who you think would be able to best promote you to a prospective employer. Common references include, teachers, professors, coaches, and spiritual leaders. Ask them for permission to be listed as a reference for you. Next, make sure you keep track of their current contact information in order to list that on the job application. Finally, make sure to keep your references updated on when you submit any job applications and where you're applying. That way, they won't be surprised when they get a call asking about a reference for you!
In summary, if you start preparing now, it will be easier for you to complete job applications when needed. By working through the steps above, you will also be able to fine tune the information that you list on the application to BEST highlight your skillsets and experiences! Good luck!
* Make a list of your key information
* Make a list of your skills and experiences!
* Start filling out job applications!