Guide to Landing Your First Job

Putting Together Your Resume

Have you been meaning to find a job, but you don’t know where to start? Or has your mom been nagging you to find a job, but you can’t seem to get a call back? This guide will help your job search a little less stressful.

Step One: Your “Headline”

  • Create a header for your contact information

It’s important that your name and other contact information can be easily found so that your hiring manager connects your resume with you. To create a header in a Microsoft Word document, double-click the top part of the page and it will appear.

  • Create a career objective

After your name and contact information, the career objective will be the first section that hiring managers see on your resume. This is where you sell yourself and convince the hiring manager to keep reading your resume.

Step Two: Brainstorm your skills

  • What types of things do you do best?
  • What traits do family and friends mention when they talk about you?
  • What computer software can you use?
  • Do you speak more than one language?

Your skills portion of your resume lets your employer know what you can bring to the job.

Step Three: Education and Training

  • List your high school and other pertinent training/certifications you hold

List your high school and what year graduated. If you have not graduated yet, make sure to indicate your anticipated graduation date by writing “20xx (anticipated graduation date).” Also, make sure to mention if you have other certifications like CPR, First Aid, etc. Certifications and training set you apart from other applicants and can give you the extra “leg-up” in the end.

Step Four: Work Experience 

  • List your work experience

When listing your work experience, you should begin with your most recent job and go backwards (in reverse-chronological order) from there. Make sure to briefly (in bulleted format) describe what your responsibilities were in each job.

Making Your Resume Pop

Use power words! Lets face it some words are just way better than others. Using power words can take your resume from good to GREAT!

Power words are especially important when hiring managers are going through a large stack of resumes. Effectively using these words can help you get your resume into the interview pile.

Resume Tips

  • Less is more! De-clutter your resume by cutting out the unnecessary. Only put the items on your resume that you think will help you to get the job.
  • Make sure your resume is easy to read. You can do this by using professional fonts like Times New Roman and/or Arial. Make sure your document is aligned and make sure to use easy to read bullet points.
  • Listing your references on your resume only makes it longer than it needs to be. A good idea would be to leave the references out of your resume, but bring them with you to your interview.
  • Keep it short! Studies show that hiring managers spend less than 20 seconds looking at a single resume. If this is the case, they won’t even bother to flip to the second page.
  • Don’t lie on your resume! If you aren’t experienced with working with computers don’t say you are. Employers are bound to find out the truth sooner than later.

Click here to download a free resume template

Writing a Cover Letter

Cover letters explain to employers why you want this job and why you are qualified to get it. Cover letters are mostly needed for jobs that require experience and further education. Jobs working for entry level retail or food positions normally don’t require a cover letter.

While writing your cover letter its important to stay brief. Remember, hiring managers don’t have time to read a novel, so keep it at a one page maximum.

In your cover letter, try to showcase the strengths you have. In resumes, it can be hard to recognize some of your soft skills. Your cover letter is your opportunity to say that you have great people skills, then back it up with evidence. If you say you have great customer service, you must back it up. Don’t just make an empty claim about yourself.

Also, don’t use the same cover letter for each job; tailor your cover letter to the job your applying for. Make sure the skills your showcasing in your cover letter pertain to the job your are currently applying for. Also personalize the cover letter to who you address it to. Don’t write, “To whom it may concern.” Make it more professional by addressing your letter to an actual person if possible.


As boring as all of this sounds, you’re cover letter doesn’t have to be lifeless. In fact, making your cover letter interesting will catch your hiring manager’s attention and make it more likely that they will remember your resume. Your resume should be unique to you and it should show off your unique strengths, experiences, background and interests. You can start with your passion, an anecdote, an accomplishment or why you love that company/ organization. Any creative reason that relates to the reason why your the the most qualified person for the job is a good way to start your letter.

Reading the job description of the job you’re applying for can help you craft your cover letter. You can highlight your best traits to align with those of the company. Doing this will make it incredibly clear to the hiring manager that you are qualified for your prospective job.

Job Search 101

Network, Network, Network!

  • Networking can be a very helpful tool – Whether your looking for a job or even a recommendation. Having people in your “network” can significantly boost your chance of getting hired.

  • While networking, you need to be proactive and advocate for yourself. It’s critical that you go out there and make connections with future bosses, supervisors, managers, and even co-workers. People who get referred to a position by a co-worker are far more likely to land a job than others who are not referred.
  • One way to keep the connection alive with your past managers, supervisors, and co-workers is via the social media site LinkedIn. LinkedIn is specifically designed for all things relating to jobs. It allows you to make “connections” with others and keep in touch.

Take Advantage of Opportunities

  • Don’t turn down a position because you think it’ll be boring or because it doesn’t pay enough money. Think about the future. Experience is valuable and the more you get the more valuable you’ll become to future employers.
  • Don’t undermine the value of volunteering either! If you’re young without a lot of work experience, volunteering is a good way to catch your future employer’s attention. Volunteerism shows that you are willing to give up part of your time to do something your passionate about and are willing to work to make a difference.

Go check out our youth employment job page

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