How to Get My First Job

I need a job.

The very first thought we consume once we become aware that we need money to buy things.

During my freshman year in high school, I began hearing regularly about people having jobs. Personally, I thought this was SO COOL. You get paid for your work? How gnarly!

Up to this point, I was a wide-eyed young adult who mainly got paid for tagging along to my uncle’s job sites as an extra work hand. Those days would pay me around $50 and that usually meant a new video game or snacks (the typical gamer diet LOL).

The closer I got to working age (16) the more I began to feel the strains of teenagehood such as no money, no car, and no means to live the life of a celebutante. (yay puberty & teenage angst!)

Cool, Glennjamin, but how do I get my first job? 

Today we’ll go over some ways to secure your first job and start earning cash!

Your Network

Believe it or not, people want to help you.

One of the BIGGEST mental hurdles I had to get over was to ask others for help. Like me, you may come from a background that involved yourself doing all the work to make things happen…sometimes, hard work and persistence is not going to bulldoze through every obstacle.

Take for example, my first job at a grocery store was the result of me knowing someone that used to work for my uncle. I was sitting at my mom’s work during the summer and having no luck with callbacks for interviews after submitting applications. 

My uncle knowing I was searching for a job mentioned this to the former employee who was an assistant manager at a local grocery store called IGA. The former employee asked me a couple of questions and told me to stop by and ask for the manager about hiring. I did as I was told and within a couple of weeks had my first job!

Sometimes it is as easy as that. You don’t have to play the numbers game by submitting numerous applications and becoming frustrated. Simply letting others know you’re looking for a job can almost have like a compound interest effect on your job prospects because people want to help out – you just have to tell them!

Easy First Time Jobs

If your network is not a strong suit for you and your family, there are some jobs that are more easily attainable.

Depending on your age, retail or food and beverage would be a great place to get your foot in the door. Keep in mind, a lot of places have implemented 18 and older for various reasons (usually retail has this rule), but restaurants like Cracker Barrel WILL hire 16-17 year olds for hosts or bussing positions.

Personally, as a former employee of Cracker Barrel, here is a little insight for my underage readers. Cracker Barrel keeps underage (anyone under 18) on a work hours limit for daily and weekly work if I remember right. I don’t think you can work more than 5 hours in a day and no more than 20-25 hours a week.

However, at places like my first job, IGA, they didn’t seem to worry as much about hours unless they had to cut spending for their weekly budget. I once worked 30 hours in a 2-day span! 

So take these personal statements with a grain of salt and understand each place of employment has their own way of handling underage employees.

Work at Home 

This is the future – remote work.

Remote work has various names – virtual jobs, telecommuting, home-based, etc. That means you do not have to leave the house in order to login to work and earn money. (introverts everywhere rejoice!). As much as I want to say this is the end-all solution, remote work is a little tougher to attain.

See, virtual jobs are not as mainstream yet and currently require most people to be Internet and computer savvy. There are thousands of home-based positions listed weekly ranging from customer-service to computer engineers. The good news is that there is almost a place for anyone with the right skill set to acquire something that interests them, even for beginners.

Most entry-level remote jobs are going to be customer-service based. I like Rat Race Rebellion as a resource because they verify job openings (scams are a thing in the remote working world, unfortunately). They send out a daily email of job listings and even offer a course on how to get your first remote job (link to course).

Freelancing/Contract Work

How would you like to possibly set your own hours and make as much money as you can earn? Consider freelancing!

A freelancer (or contracted worker) is someone that does not receive work in the traditional sense. Freelance workers are contracted workers based on the skills they offer. These skills can perform jobs or services that range from pet-sitting to computer engineer.

For example, someone that teaches guitar lessons is technically a freelancer since they offer a skill someone else wants to learn and provides that service for a fee. Another person may be a carpenter that is contracted to work on a home for their skills as a home builder or repairman. Personally, I DJ and play live music so anytime I have a gig I am a freelancer!

Freelancing can be an empowering career path but make sure you know what you are getting into like making sure you set aside money to pay taxes either quarterly or yearly. Personally, I use Quickbooks to help keep track of my business expenses and taxes which makes it SUPER EASY to file my taxes come tax time.

The Interview and How to Nail It!

The one thing that gets everyone nervous…the interview.

Interviews are not only a way for employers to get to know the candidates and see how they could fit in, but the same is true for the potential future employee – you are interviewing them as well!

For you, keep it simple. 

  • Dress and Act Professional 

    Sit up straight, maintain some eye contact, be positive, use active listening. Bring a copy of your resume just in case the interviewer wants to look over it. Most likely you won’t need to be suit and tie (unless stated – always ask if unsure) but business casual dress is usually standard – here’s a great article from Fit Small Business for reference.

  • Ask Questions – do not sit in silence. 

    See what a typical day is like. What the supervisor likes to see in workers. What you can do to stand out. Sometimes it might be obvious but appearing interested in the job is going to make you seem like someone who cares and that matters to employers.

  • Follow Up – What’s the next step? 

    Usually, the interviewer will give details of how they will follow up with you – usually within a week. However, sometimes people get busy and may forget to mention. MAKE SURE you ask them what the next step is and if it would be okay for you to follow up if you don’t hear anything. Most of the time it won’t be an issue for you to follow up BUT if they say, “no need, we’ll contact you,” do listen. DO NOT HARASS THEM if you don’t hear back by the date they told you.

  • Express Gratitude for Opportunity 

    At the end of the interview, tell the person doing the interview that you are thankful for the opportunity. These people sometimes interview multiple people in a day so a small gesture like thanking them can leave a good impression.

Practice implementing these small details. You want to NOT give an employer a reason to hire you so as long as you don’t do anything unprofessional like – talking bad about others, acting cocky, anything that would say you might be a future problem at work. Do this and your chances of landing your first job are going to be high after the interview.

Sometimes it’s Luck, Sometimes it Doesn’t Work Out

Overall, you will come to find there are no hard rules about getting a job.

When it comes to your first job, it’s mainly about getting your foot in the door and going from there. Some people will have it easier than others. Sometimes it takes longer than you would like to land a job.

Ultimately, just keep trying and eventually you’ll get that first job. Once acquired, you’ll come to find out more about yourself such as what you like in a job and what you don’t like and that’s when the real-life growth occurs.


Do you have any questions about landing your first job?

Always happy to hear from the readers!


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