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Your first job

You've probably been in school for nearly your entire life. And it may seem as though it's been a very long and comprehensive job training. But what feels like the end of one part of your life is actually the beginning of a much larger part of your life. Welcome to the job market.

Finding the right job
You didn't work this hard to end up taking just any old job. You want a job that is right for you. Otherwise you could have skipped college and just taken the first thing that came along. Finding the right job for you will be a big project. But you've already come this far, so you might as well go the extra mile and secure yourself a good job while you're at it.

Where to start?
Visit the career center at your school. That's the point of a career center - to find students jobs in their field of study.

Sign up for on-campus interviews. Recruiters from major companies often visit college campuses looking for good prospects. It's a great way to get your foot in the door of otherwise hard-to-reach employers.

Headhunters and employment services can be a good yet expensive source of job leads. The good news is, they don't get paid unless you get a job, so they're going to do their best.

The phone book is an under utilized source of job leads. Decide what types of companies employ people with your skills. Then look for those companies in the Yellow Pages. Call up and ask for their human resources department.

Networking has become a buzzword in professional circles - for good reason. Many of the best jobs are never advertised. You just have to know the right people. So the key is to get out there and meet the right people. Don't be afraid to ask everyone you know. Type an e-mail stating exactly the type of position you want and send it to everyone you know. You'll be surprised how supportive your friends, family and even casual acquaintances can be. After all, everyone has been there at one time or another. If they can't immediately connect you with a job, they can often provide some valuable advice on where to look and whom to talk to.

What job do you want?
Take time to think about not only what job you want now, but to imagine your possible career progression. Beyond earning a paycheck, what do you want to get out of a job? What skills do you want to learn and what experiences do you want to gain? Look past your first job to the next step of your career. What job will get you closer to that step?

Also, while salary is an important part of a job, look at the benefits associated with your job. A high-paying job with no benefits may not be as advantageous as a lower salary with a complete benefits package.

Where are you willing to go?
If you want to stay close to home, your job prospects may be limited. If you want a job in an advertising agency and you live in New York City, you have many opportunities. But if you want to be a fashion designer and you aren't willing to move out of North Dakota, you may a have some trouble finding a job.

If you plan to move to another city for employment, take into consideration the expense of that move. First, different areas have different costs of living. The lifestyle that $30,000 a year affords in San Francisco would take only $20,000 a year to maintain in Cleveland. If you are offered a salary, make sure you can live on that salary in your new city. Moving costs are another factor to take into consideration. If your prospective employer isn't going to pay your moving costs, make sure the salary will make up for these costs in the long run.

When should you start looking?
Start looking now!!! Some experts recommend looking for a job six to nine months before you want the job. But, in reality, you should never stop looking. Constantly keep your eyes open for new opportunities. Keep networking and building your list of contacts. You may decide not to work immediately upon graduation. But it sure would be nice to have the opportunity if you change your mind.

The resume
The first thing you need is a resume. Absolutely everyone that may hire you will ask for a resume first. It will let potential employers know quickly if you have the experience and qualifications for the position they want to fill. Include your education, your work experience, other applicable experience outside of work and any awards you may have received that attest to skills applicable to the job you are seeking.

The wording of your resume is also very important. Make the resume dynamic. Use action verbs. "Managed all inventory," sounds more active than "in charge of all inventory." Keep in mind who will be reading this. Employers receive many resumes. They want a resume that speaks to them. But they're also very busy. So be concise. They would much rather read one well-written sentence than four describing the same thing in more detail.

Beyond the contents of your resume, its appearance is just as important. Your resume is all an employer knows about you. It represents you. So if your resume is unorganized, the employer will assume that you are unorganized. If your resume is well-thought out, organized, and pleasing to the eye, the employer will assume you have strong organizational skills and attention to detail.

The interview
If your resume is well-done and your experience matches what the employer is looking for, you have a good chance of making it to the next step of the process - the interview.

The key to success in an interview is to be prepared. Research the company as well as you can. Know what they do and how they do it. Be prepared to share some of what you've learned about the company in your interview. Also, take your knowledge of the company and determine how you fit in. How can your skills help the company? That is likely to be one of the questions asked in your interview.

Also research the standard interview questions and be prepared to answer them. What is your biggest weakness? Where do you see yourself in five years? There will be questions you don't expect. But at least you can be prepared for some of them.

Decide what you want to know about the company. Have questions prepared to ask at your interview. You want to give the impression that not only are they interviewing you, you are interviewing them.

If you come into the interview prepared not only to answer questions but to ask questions, you will appear more interested and confident - two very important qualities in the workplace.

Other issues
Other things you might want to consider include the following:

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