Does Your First Job Impact Your Long-Term Career?

Meet Alan – the Graduate. He recently got his degree in Business Management. He studied a general subject so he doesn’t have to be tied to a specific career path. He started applying for jobs a month ago. He has been sending 5 applications a day. He still doesn’t have a response yet. He plans to increase the number of applications to 10 a day.

Alan is not the only one who follows this strategy. Many recent graduates do.

It’s a numbers game, they say.

Well, I don’t think so.

There is no doubt that it is very competitive out there. However, if you just change the name of the recipient company on their cover letter without even knowing what the company actually does, you may not go that far either.

As  Einstein said “insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.”

Also, the first job is an important one. Not only because you learn how to be Does your first job impact your long-term career?professional, work in a team and understand yourself better. Your first job is important because it puts you on a career path that you will probably follow for much longer.

Take Alan for example. If he ends up finding a job in the automotive industry, he most probably will stay in that industry for many years to come. On the other hand, if he gets a job in telecommunications, then his career will move to a different direction.

A more targeted approach will increase the probabilities to land a job in the area you want to pursue. So, what do you need to do:

  • Find out the sector you want to work in (Is it health care, technology, education, etc? Note that when a sector is growing, personnel is needed and opportunities arise.)
  • Research the job postings from the companies in this sector and find out for which you are qualified and why you are a good fit for these jobs. Apply for them after customizing your resume and cover letter accordingly.
  • Network, network and network. (Do you know anybody who works in the sector of your choice? Can a friend of your parents/mentor/professor/ university alum introduce you to somebody in that company? Is there a chance to do an internship there?)
  • Listen to feedback and make necessary changes. When you talk to people who work in the companies you are interested, ask them to review your resume/cover letter/elevator pitch. Remember: big companies have processes to follow so don’t expect them to give you a job on the spot. However, they can help you position yourself better.
  • Be flexible. Tweak your strategy as you go along. You may have to move to a new city or go for a not so well-know company.

It is up to you to decide which strategy you want to implement for your job search. Note though that getting off to a good start is key to your long-term career success.

Do you agree that your first job is important for your long-term career? Let us know what you think!

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply. She is the author of ‘b4iapply to college’ and ‘b4iapply to uni’ for the US and the UK respectively. She is a former pharmaceuticals executive and she has an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her blog http://b4iapply.com is recommended by The Guardian for professional development.

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