1. Skip to content

Tips for Getting Your First Job

Learn how to find, apply, and interview for your first job.

Before you begin your job search, make sure you can be legally employed in the United States. You must prove your eligibility for employment before you can begin a job. Eligibility is granted automatically to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. You can prove your eligibility by showing one of the following:

If you are under the age of 18, check federal and state rules to make sure you are old enough to legally work.

List Places to Apply

Create a list of places to apply. Use a variety of sources to find full- or part-time work. You can start with print and online ads, job banks, and career centers. Other options include:

Gather Your Information

Many employers will ask you to fill out an application. Be prepared to do this on the spot by bringing this information with you:

  • What days and hours you are available to work
  • How you can be reached (phone, e-mail address)
  • Names and addresses of any previous employers (include unpaid or volunteer work)
  • Dates of employment
  • Description of past duties at each previous job
  • References and their contact information
  • Copies of your resume (include it with the job application if you have one)

Apply in Person

Applying in person is often the best way to find a job. Some businesses have computers set up for you to apply onsite. You usually turn in an application and then get called later for an interview. But you could be interviewed on the spot when you turn in an application, so try to be ready.

Make a Good First Impression

Before you leave home, make sure your appearance is appropriate. Personal grooming and the way you dress can matter more than a smart interview answer. You don't need to be in a suit. Just make sure your hair and clothes are clean and neat. Avoid:

  • Tight fitting and revealing clothes (no short skirts, low-cut shirts, tank tops, or too-tight clothing)
  • Open-toed shoes or sandals (these can be considered a job hazard)
  • Extreme hairstyles
  • Excessive makeup and perfume

Be courteous and respectful to everyone you meet. Say please and thank you. Don't slump or chew gum. Make eye contact and project self-confidence. Remember to turn off your cell phone. Show interest in the job and the company, and a willingness to learn.

Use an Appropriate, Simple E-Mail Address

Employers don't want to contact someone at SuperHotGuy@hottie.com for an interview. This type of e-mail address is considered unprofessional.

Be Persistent

As a first-time job seeker, prepare yourself to hear "no." Don't be discouraged by a rejection. Nobody receives a job offer for every job application that they submit. Remember to:

  • Ask to be contacted if another opening occurs.
  • Leave a copy of your resume.
  • Thank the employer for their time.

Get Experience

A little experience can go a long way. Getting some type of work experience as early as possible makes you a stronger job candidate. Experience mowing lawns or babysitting shows that you know how to keep commitments, be on time, and do quality work.

Think of Your Future Goals

Start thinking about a career that would allow you to achieve the lifestyle you want while doing what you're really good at. For example, if a career in education interests you, apply for work as a summer camp instructor or help in a local elementary school classroom. The more career-related experience you have, the stronger your resume will be.

Source: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.


CAREERwise Newsletter

Sign up to receive email updates from CAREERwise.