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6 things you should do to prepare for your first job

Resume, interviews, and ... waiting? It's all part of the first job hunt.

The following article is part of "The Path," a series presented by JPMorgan Chase that helps young people in their first jobs.


Making the leap from college to the workplace can be thrilling—and terrifying, too. Finding the perfect job, understanding your employer's expectations, and fitting into your company's culture can be daunting. Follow these six simple tips to prepare for and find your first job, and you'll fast-track yourself from college grad to star employee in no time.

1. Shift your mindset

Here's the deal: you're no longer a student, and that means you have to put on your professional hat. That doesn't mean you can't go out and have fun with your friends, but your actions will affect other people around you more than ever.

"You are no longer working for yourself," says Jessica Piet, a 24-year-old in her first post-college job as an office manager of a therapy practice in Dublin, Ohio. "If you skip class, don't do an assignment, or do enough to just pass in school, it only affects you. When working full-time, everything you do impacts your team."

2. Create multiple resumes

Both Piet and Marie Zimenoff, CEO of Career Thought Leaders Consortium and a career management coach with the National Career Development Association, suggest tailoring your resume to the position you want. If you're going for something corporate, keep it standard, with small chunks of text and a streamlined format. For a creative position, consider incorporating graphic design into your resume, or use a digital resume.

3. Get social (media)

These days, savvy employers are heading to social media to find (and screen) candidates. Some companies even have entire channels dedicated to recruiting efforts. Search for organizations you'd like to work for, then connect with them online. Try to find recruiters, and hiring managers, and ask about upcoming open positions.

But don't forget about the benefits of being social in real life. Reach out to your network of friends, family, organizations, and alumni groups to see if they have connections. Better yet, Zimenoff says, give them a list of companies you'd love to work for. Even if they don't know anyone there, they might know someone who knows someone, or have a contact at a similar business.

4. Leverage technology and social media

Modern technology has introduced new ways of interviewing. Application and interview processes may be handled entirely online. You'll want to find out which technologies and processes your prospective employers are using, and practice using them, if possible, to become more comfortable with virtual interviews.

Zimenoff advises job seekers to leverage social media, too. "Follow the employer and hiring managers on Twitter. Connect with them, interact with them there, and then go through the interview process the way the company has set it up."

5. Embrace the wait

Be prepared to wait after you're done with the interview. You may have had the best interview of your life, but you still have to wait for the other candidates to go through the process too.

Piet acknowledges that the wait can be difficult. She applied for 100 positions, was offered about 20 interviews, and received a single job offer, which was at a salary less than what she wanted. In some cases, she even forgot she had applied for a job since the response took so long. But, she says, persistence—and patience—pay off.

6. Prep yourself for company culture

Congratulations! You've finally got your dream job! In the days leading up to your start date, and in the weeks that follow it, be sure to devote some time to thinking about and observing your new company's organizational culture. "Think of work culture like going to a new country," Zimenoff advises. "You're going into an unfamiliar culture. So if you're moving to a new country, what would you do? Thinking about the answers to these questions will help you fit into the culture more easily, feeling more comfortable in your role and poised for success."

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