Tips for Finding Your First Job

Written by EFP

Finding your first job is one of the hardest things you might have to do in your working life. Starting from scratch with no experience can feel like an uphill battle, but remember that everyone has to start somewhere.

While it may feel like it’s impossible to land a job with no work experience, remember that employers are not just looking for experience, often your attitude, skills and overall manner are as important. Being friendly, enthusiastic and determined will go a long way in your search for a job.

In the current post-pandemic climate, it may actually be easier than ever before to land your first job. There are employers in many sectors who are short-staffed and who may welcome a young and enthusiastic new set of hands. We have compiled a list of the ten post-covid job growth areas and it may be worth referring to this when deciding where to focus your application efforts.

For dedicated help to students and school leavers, visit our websites Developing a Student and Employing an Apprentice.

We have put together some tips on how to get your first job. Whether you have just left college and are looking for the first step in your career or are a teen in school looking for part-time work, we want to help.

Put Together a Good CV

The first and most important thing to do when searching for a job is to put together a good CV. You need to spend some time listing all your details and skills so any potential employer can immediately see why they should hire you.

It is important to be able to demonstrate skills at this stage in your career journey and some of these may be what we call transferable skills, rather than those which are more suited to a specific job.

This is especially important for school leavers and teens with no experience, as you need to find other ways to show off your skills. A CV should be short, for part-time and casual work no more than a page, and it should be concise. Be sure to incorporate any information on work experience or volunteering that you may have done.

For more help, visit our guide to CV writing and also learn how to write a covering letter.

Access Your Network

A great place to start when finding your first job is to reach out to those around you. Many people get their first job through friends and family, somebody you know might need a helping hand. Word of mouth is a very powerful tool.

Consider making a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram post and asking those who know you to share it. You may also be offered some good suggestions of places locally which may be hiring if you do this.

Ask your teachers at school or leaders of any clubs you are in, whether they know of any part-time jobs going. Being recommended to an employer for a job is always a great bonus.

Always Follow Up

After you have applied for a job, whether formally or informally, it’s essential to follow up with an employer. If you are waiting to back from a job, ring or email the boss and just ask if they have any updates. This shows you are keen and proactive. It might help them to make their decision.

There is a balance to be struck with this though, only contact them once or twice at the absolute most for an update, as you may be seen to be harassing them otherwise and that is never a good look.

Be Open-Minded

Always be open-minded to jobs you may not have considered. When looking for your first job, it’s important not to shut off possibilities before giving them a go. The likelihood is that you won’t land your dream role straight away, so be optimistic and open to any jobs that come your way. Every job is a helpful stepping stone in your career.

Having had a job and being able to ask for a reference from an employer is always preferable to never having had a job at all. Even if a job doesn’t necessarily match your skills or interests, consider giving it a go in order to improve your future employability. Think of it as building your employment credibility, once you have a track record as a hard worker, it is so much easier to move to your next job.


If you are looking for something a bit more permanent, consider starting an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are great for any teens over 16 that don’t have much experience but are keen to get out of the classroom and into work.

You can earn a wage, whilst training and studying for a qualification. This can be an excellent option for many young people and there are apprenticeships in all manner of different employment areas. For more information, head to our site Employing an Apprentice.

Show Your Face

Go and speak to potential employers in person, as well as just emailing in your CV. If you see online that a local café or shop is hiring, go down and introduce yourself and say that you have applied for the job.

You want to show the employer that you are not just another online application but also a warm, enthusiastic person they would love to work with. This is a chance to let your personality shine and if you have excellent interpersonal skills, showcasing them directly to the boss or potential colleagues may help you to get the job.

Plan Your Time

Finally, remember to consider your schedule before you start searching for jobs. There is no point in getting a job on a weekday if you have to be in school or college during the day. It is important to be sure what the working hours and location are likely to be and whether there is any flexibility offered.

Research which jobs will suit your schedule first, and then work from there. Employers are more likely to hire somebody if they are sure that they can commit to the allocated working hours.

As a teen in secondary school, how many hours am I allowed to work per week?2021-01-26T12:02:57+00:00

Under 18’s are legally only allowed to work in part-time positions, unless they are still training or in part-time education. For 16 and 17 year olds, you must not work more than 8 hours in a day. If you are still in school, during term time, you cannot work more than 12 hours a week, a maximum of two hours on school days and Sundays. You are entitled to a 30-minute break for every 4.5 hours that you work, and those aged 16 and 17 cannot work after 10 pm and before 7 am. 

How old do you have to be to get a job part-time? 2021-01-26T12:02:05+00:00

In the UK, the youngest you can legally get a part-time job is 13. There are some exceptions for ‘performance jobs’ such as acting or modelling, which you can do younger than 13, but you will need a performance licence to do these. Children under 16 are not entitled to the national minimum wage (£6.45 an hour for 18-20 year olds), and they do not need to pay national insurance. When a child reaches 16, they are entitled to at least £4.55, this then changes again when they reach 18. 

You cannot be employed full-time until you have reached the minimum school leaving age. In the UK you have to be in part-time education or training until the age of 18

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