Securing Your First Part-Time Job

By Kaitlin Hurtado on March 11, 2017

Whether it happens during the beginning weeks of your freshman fall quarter, or later in your freshman year after your stash of graduation money runs out, you will find yourself on the hunt for a part-time job.

The part-time job may be your first, and you might be worrying about how slim your chances are if you do not have any prior job experience. Even with little-to-no job experience, you still have the potential to secure your first-time job.

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Think positive and do not let every failure get to you

Going into your job hunt, you should not go into each job application expecting the worst. Everybody with a job has started somewhere — they have all been in the position you are currently in. When applying for your first part-time job, a lot of the positions’ requirements may state that prior experience is needed from applicants. Don’t let the prior experience deter you from submitting the job application because chances are the employer is desperately looking for new hires and more open to varying levels of experience.

There are employers that are very specific in the applicants they actually do accept, however. You may seem like the perfect candidate personality-wise, but your lack of prior experience really may end up being the deciding factor in you securing the position. Do not let every no get you down or discourage you from going forward with your job search.

Keep your options open, and do not be afraid to say “Yes” 

Don’t go into your job hunt being overly specific in the type of work you want. With limited work experience, you have less options when it comes to the type of job opportunities that are open to you. More often than not, the more attainable jobs are the “tough” ones in the sense that they require more manual labor, like handling food, customer service, cleaning, etc.

Do not say no to a job because it isn’t your ideal job, but say yes because you do need to build experience, even as unappealing as it may be. The jobs you do say yes to allow you to get the experience needed for your later career. The better rapport you have with your job and employer, the better references you have under your belt for your future job hunt. You can’t go into the application for your first part-time job expecting to get your dream job, but you should be going into each application thinking about what you can get out of the job.

Make a resume and don’t leave it bare 

Many people with prior experience nearly set themselves up for failure by failing to create a proper resume when applying for jobs. Even when you don’t have “actual job experience” that will help you in the position you are applying for, experience from other aspects of your life will add to your worth in the eyes of your potential employer. If the only “experience” you have is through high school, you can include academic achievements, which will show your work ethic that could have been shown through other possible job experience.

Alongside academic achievements, include extracurriculars that have given you the skills and qualities that will help you qualify for the job. If you were part of student government or involved with leadership within a club, you will be able to endorse your leadership and communication skills. Be aware that prior experience isn’t always limited to experience gained during a paid position (unpaid if internship); it can be any experience gained during school-related extracurriculars and volunteering/community service.

Do not leave references blank on your job application

Most job applications will have space for your references and their contact information. If you don’t have job experience and previous employers to have as references, you can still use teachers, club advisors, or any professional you have worked with that can endorse your set of skills and qualities.

The closer you have worked with a reference and the more time you have spent working alongside or under a reference, the more credibility they will have when it comes to talking you up as an employee to an inquiring potential employee.

Come to the interview prepared, and prepare to follow up post-interview

If it’s your first time interviewing for a job, there are countless guides introducing job hunters to the interview process. One of the first things that a potential employee will take in during the interview is your appearance — do not come dressed casually in jeans and sandals and expect to ace the interview. Effort can show in a variety of ways in a single interview and your attire is one of the ways that an employer can visually see the effort you put into this job, even if it’s just for the interview.

While you may not have job experience, you will still be able to sell yourself personally and professionally with the skills picked up from other activities, which can make you just as qualified as those with a few part-time jobs under their belt. Do not be afraid to ask questions during the interview; questions show the interviewer that you are genuinely interested in the job and company.

When the interview is over, do not hesitate to reach out to the interviewer to send a post-interview thank-you note, showing genuine interest in the job and appreciation for the interviewer’s time. If you don’t get the job, take it as a learning experience; try reaching out to the interviewer for some feedback on your application and interview. Continue with your job search with confidence in the skills and qualities you already have, and best of luck in securing your first part-time job!

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a second year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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