Bagger: one who bags groceries. Doesn’t sound too appealing, does it? Well, at 15 and a half, this was my first job. That and rounding up stray shopping carts in below zero temperatures during the winter and sweltering heat in the summer. Talk about an “unforgettable” experience.
But I’d worked hard for that position. After applying, I called the store’s hiring manager every month only to be told “sorry, we don’t have anything available at this time.” But I was persistent until one day, a position became available. And although I didn’t realize it as a teen, years later, that characteristic would play a significant role in securing my future job in the “real world.”
Searching for the first job—we’ve all been there before. And many recent and future graduates will soon find themselves in this common phase. But what are students to do when they don’t know to “call until something becomes available?” What can those do who haven’t learned the necessary job seeking skills, like persistence, networking, research and ‘resume perfecting’? Well, Martin Yate has an answer (and a book) for that.
Yate is the New York Times bestselling author of the “Knock Em’ Dead” series—a variation of books designed to guide you through a successful job search and modern career management. His latest addition, “Knock ‘Em Dead — Job Search Strategies for First-Time Job Seekers: How to Manage Your Career, Find the Right Job, and Excel in the Workplace,” offers a “how to” specifically for first time job seekers.
Recruiter.com had the opportunity to chat with Yate about his new book (the ebook is currently available on Amazon for $1.99!). See what advice, tips and tricks he offered for those hoping to land their first jobs:
1. What led you to add a book specifically on first-time job seekers to your “Knock ‘Em Dead” series?
I see the career management and job search advice young grads are getting at school and college and it is out of date and entirely inadequate. My wife and I have seven young adult children between us (ranging from a Berkeley grad with double degrees to one struggling with a GED), and we see this complete inadequacy first hand. The world of work that this generation is entering is entirely without security, and I saw that a new approach to job search that also embraced the issues of financial survival and long-term career management issues was way overdue.
2. What are some of the most common mistakes first-time job seekers make?
a) That a job somehow comes as a “right” with graduation
b) That there will always be someone there to pick up the pieces and kiss the boo-boos better
c) That crossing the final bridge into adulthood means that graduate is on his or her own and what happens in life is up to his or her efforts
d) The corporate world doesn’t care what you want; it is about you being able to deliver what they want.
e). There is no going back, you get one chance at life and this is it. Today there is less security but more opportunity than ever before. Invest in your future and you can get what you want out of life and live it on your own terms. Get serious about managing the trajectory of your professional life; learn what it takes to become successful and what you will have to do to make it happen.
3. In your book you ask, “Should you follow your bliss?” How should first-time job seekers use their passions when job hunting?
I raise the question, “Should you follow your bliss?” but I do not say anyone should “follow their bliss,” or anything like it. I believe such advice to be naïve, impractical and usually hurtful advice to give a young person. Instead, I discuss the different ways you can make a successful professional life happen: through a traditional professional career, as an entrepreneur and by the pursuit of your dreams. I then lay out a proven way to integrate the pursuit of any (or all) vehicles for success into an overall plan of attack for getting what you want out of life.
4. You tell readers the sooner they start working toward their goals the better. Why is this especially true for college students set to graduate?
Competition is fierce, getting a fast start out of college means getting a fast start on your career. Get a job quickly after graduation, and while many in our class are still struggling a year from now, you have a year of real-world experience—and in another 12-24 months you’ll be ready to make your first move and start climbing the promotional and financial ladder of success.
5. What are a few do’s and don’t’s when constructing entry-level resumes?
- Always have a target job title; it gives you and the reader focus
- (Targeted job titles) help make your resume discoverable in databases.
- Focus on the skills you bring to this specific job and go after that job. Don’t expect busy HR professionals to waste time thinking up great jobs for you. It’s all up to you.
- Include a “Professional Skills” section that identifies all the hard skills you posses that are relevant to the job.
- In the “Professional Experience” section, repeat these skills in the context they were applied and developed.
6. What is one of the biggest misconceptions people have about their first jobs? How can they change this?
That they can start at the top. You have no experience to offer; you just have youth and education and enthusiasm. You will get an entry-level job and the pay might not be that great.
Don’t worry, a career covers a 50-year time span. This is a marathon and not a sprint.
A first job is all about getting your foot in the door and getting as much experience as you can for two or three years while you make as many professional contacts as you can. Then plan and execute your first upward strategic career move.
7. Final thoughts?
If you want to live life on your terms and become a success in an uncertain world, be prepared to 1) start low down the totem pole (spring break is over and life is NOT a Budweiser commercial) and 2) work your butt off for a few years while you really learn a trade/profession, simultaneously using that job as entrepreneurial on-the-job-training for the pursuit of your own dream and entrepreneurial careers.
At 15, I wanted to be a writer. By the time I was 34, I’d become director of training at a publicly traded company. When I was 35, my first book was published, launching my entrepreneurial career. Secrets & Strategies For First Time Job Seekers is my 16th book and I’ve been my own boss, making my own hours for 28 years.
A better example? Harrison Ford—the biggest box office star in history—was a finish carpenter in L.A. for years before he became the movie star we all know.