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15 Things You Wish You Knew During Your First Job Search

By Cally Martin / August 17, 2016
job search newbie

Everyone talks about how awful job searching is. If you’ve been there (or are currently there) you understand exactly how terrible it can be. What no one tells you are the gritty details you wish you had known. So I asked some of our staffers (a.k.a. our local career experts), “What is one piece of advice you wish you would have known during your first job search?” Some you may have heard before, many you will be shocked to find out, and others are just plain helpful.


We can’t promise to make your job search suck less, but we hope that our advice helps to keep you from making the same mistakes we did!


  1. Your “dream job” will reject you and it will be devastating. Don’t let anyone diminish that feeling, take the time you need to process it and then go full steam ahead.
  2. Email communication is super important. Responding quickly and clearly sends a message about the type of worker you are and your communication skills. Lagging in responses makes you look unreliable.
  3. Remember to send a thank you email after your interviews! Make sure you ask for the interviewer’s email address at the end of the interview if you do not already have it.
  4. “Tell me about yourself.” Be thoroughly prepared to answer this question. This is your opportunity to give your own (brief, yet concise) narrative.
  5. It’s very important to ask questions during the interview. The questions you ask will reflect your interest level, personality, and career goals.
  6. You are not God’s gift to that company. You are not special; you’re a warm body being hired to fulfill a need. Your first, and only, job is to fulfill that need. Do it well, and you may find yourself becoming more specialized and moving towards a more compelling role.
  7. Keep track of where you have applied to and what position. Eventually, they all blur together. (See our handy spreadsheet download at the end of this post!)
  8. SPELL CHECK, always spell check. You think you know how to spell February until you put it on your resume, send it out 10 times and realize it’s wrong.
  9. Kind of an obvious one, though a lot of people overlook it. Learn to think like a hiring manager, and be honest with yourself about the question, “Would I hire me?” Find your faults and deficiencies a hiring manager would, then improve on those.
  10. Tailor your cover letter and your resume to the job. Every. Single. Time. Quality over quantity.
  11. If a company turns you down and you have a contact person, ask for feedback on why they turned you down. The best case, you can make changes and adjustments for future applications. Worst case, they don’t respond.
  12. Your resume is just one in a stack of hundreds, or thousands. Before you send it in, think, besides work experience, what is going to make someone look at this and want to know more? Get creative, technology has evolved to more than just a paper cover letter and resume.
  13. Your friends who have jobs feel for you, really they do; but there comes a point in your endless complaining where they just want you to shut up. While the job search takes up your entire life, it isn’t theirs. Don’t forget to tell them “thank you” for their support.
  14. Don’t waste your time applying to jobs you know don’t have the experience necessary to actually get the job. Be realistic and dedicate your time to ones who have a shot at.
  15. Understand the difference between confidence and arrogance. Look them up if you have to. There’s a fine line. The former is good, the latter is not.

Did we miss anything? Put your tips, tricks, and advice in the comments section below!


BONUS: We made a Job Application Tracking spreadsheet template for you. Get it here:

Job Application Tracking Template

Get Access Now

About the author

Cally Martin

By way of Michigan and Chicago, Cally has finally made it back to her roots in Texas. When she isn't writing blog posts and doing techy things, she is out enjoying the sunshine, drinking mimosas, and bragging about her current reign as NCAA March Madness bracket champ!

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