Entering the world of work can feel daunting, whether you have just completed studies as a high school student or a college/university graduate. For most people, there is a sense of uncertainty of where and how to start the process of applying for jobs.

To help first time or inexperienced job hunters become more confident in all phases of the job search process, here are five building blocks that can be used to secure employment.

  1. Make your resume a winning introduction

Just as a Master of Ceremonies introduces each speaker or performer at an event to stimulate positive anticipation among the audience, your resume should introduce you to your potential employer in a way that makes them want to consider and meet you.

Show off your strengths from the start

To help foster a positive impression, start with details about your experience and professional profile that you are most proud of. These include academic &professional certifications and social achievements such as special awards and acknowledgments.

It’s best to start with your most recent achievements; when you showcase your best attributes from the beginning, you will immediately show your unique value-adding traits.

Make sure your resume looks good

These elements should be taken into account regarding resume formatting

  • Fonts and font size – choose common sans serif fonts such as Arial to allow for reader’s eyes to pick up the key information. Maintain body text with a 10pt or 12pt font size so that the text can be read easily.
  • Spacing – give adequate spacing between lines and between headers, sub-headers and main text. Line spacing of 1.5 inches is usually acceptable. Also be mindful of margins and avoid use of too wide or too large margins.
  • Colours – colours can be used on your resume to show your personality or to highlight headers and sub-headers. Choose a colour that still delivers a professional tone.

Proofread your resume for errors before sending

After you have included all the relevant content included in your resume, you need to make sure that it is free of spelling and grammatical errors. When you present a resume with little to no errors, you give the impression that you take care in the quality of your work.

  1. Become an intern to learn the ropes and make connections

The matter of having job experience as a young professional to increase career placement attractiveness, can be likened to the chicken and egg question of “which comes first?” One cannot become experienced without being employed and some employers do not want to take the risk of employing someone without experience.

One way to get past this hurdle is to seek out internships while in high school or college/university, to gain work experience and create career connections that could later serve as job and character references, or even future employers. If you did not think of, or get the chance to pursue internships while completing your studies, it is never too late to do so. You can seek out internships by doing the following:

Attending seminars and job fairs to get your name and face in the game

When you meet hiring managers face to face at job fairs, you may get the chance to introduce yourself, strike up an engaging conversation, ask questions about the company/industry and hand them a copy of your resume. Job fairs give you a chance to make a direct connection and create a good impression.

Review job boards or career focused platforms such as LinkedIn for internship opportunities

By frequently checking to see which internships have become available, you can act quickly in sending in your resume/an email to indicate interest so that you can be among the first applicants.

Follow companies that you would like to work for on social media

By following your potential employers on social media, you gain the dual benefit of learning about their brand culture, which could be an asset if you join their team. Additionally, you will be kept in the loop whenever new job opportunities arise.

Seek help from your school’s guidance counselor or career placement advisor

Companies or recruiters sometimes send out their internship or job vacancy needs to individuals and departments in academic institutions that provide guidance to young adults. A quick visit, email or phone call to your career placement advisor or guidance counselor may open the door for you to access available internships or jobs.

  1. Carefully submit job applications

Being prompt in applying for advertised jobs can give you the advantage of being among the first applicants that are reviewed. However, making sure that your application submission is at an excellent standard will certainly move you from the review to interview phase. Other than having a well-crafted resume, these application tips can help you deliver a successful job application.

Use the language of your potential employer

If necessary, edit your resume so that the phrasing of your skills is presented through their vocabulary. For example, if you have skills as a Data Analyst and the job ad uses the term “Data Scientist” to describe the same skills that you possess, then you may want to reconsider using “Data Scientist” as your skill title; you can then edit some of the verbiage of the skills on your resume to match the employer’s.

Sell yourself through your cover letter

A cover letter as an accompaniment to your resume, gives you the opportunity to speak directly to your potential employer. Cover letters should be used to elicit positive thoughts about your experience to date, using action words that highlight your accomplishments. For example, it would be more effective and powerful to say, “Delivered sales 15% above target” rather than just “Exceeded sales”.

As with everything, you will get better with practice. Taking the first step to becoming a professional is the most important step of all.

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A 5-year project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank that will provide Jamaicans with access to training and better jobs in the global services sector, namely in knowledge process outsourcing, information technology outsourcing and business process outsourcing.

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