The 5 big challenges for first-time job-hunters

The degree in one’s pocket is not the end of the road, it’s the beginning of building a rewarding career. (Pixabay pic)

Broadly speaking, there are five major challenges in looking for that first job. And if you can overcome these during the job search itself, you can take the first steps to a successful career.

These challenges can also be seen as guideposts on the road to a fulfilling career. But remember, success does not happen overnight, it takes effort.

1. Aptitude for a job

To determine your aptitude for a job, assess whether it meets your needs, whether you fit the job profile and whether it’s in a field you’re happy to spend your working life in.

Examine your likes and dislikes, hobbies and passions. Once you’ve taken inventory of these, it’s easier to determine what your first job should be.

The next step is to read job profiles on,,, and other websites to get a clear idea of whether or not a specific job meets your long-term career requirements.

Having an excellent cover letter and a great CV and résumé will gain the attention of recruiters. (Pixabay pic)

2. Drafting the right document

Once you’ve determined the nature of the work, the next step is to draft the right documents. These include a superb cover letter, a killer CV and résumé.

Bear in mind that the cover letter, CV or résumé must create a great first impression. Employers generally send out an interview call only if the cover letter, the résumé or CV are attractive enough.

These documents have to convey the message loud and clear that you are the right candidate.

Read the job advertisement carefully. Some employers call for a CV while others ask for a résumé. There is a vast difference between a CV and a résumé so they should be prepared separately, according to internationally acceptable styles.

Many first-time jobseekers fail because they send a standard cover letter, CV or résumé to a potential employer. The trick is to customise your cover letter according to the job description.

Mention the reasons why you’re interested in that specific job with that employer. Write the CV and résumé to highlight your aptitude for the job.

This includes educational qualifications, hobbies, passions and extracurricular activities. Obviously, you do not have previous work experience but mention any internships or traineeships you’ve done.

3. Selecting the job

This is one of the toughest challenges of looking for that first job – selection. As a fresher in any field, or someone with general educational qualifications and no specialisation, it can be a difficult choice.

A person may think that one job suits their financial needs while another matches their personality. One job might seem easy while another could sound interesting.

There are no easy answers to the question of selection but there are some simple guidelines. Look for jobs where your skills and education would be useful.

Then do some online research to find out the prospects of that career. This is very important because some jobs do not offer many opportunities for career growth.

4. Applying for the first job

Applying for the first job can be tough because you do not have any experience that matters, nor skills that can make any difference to an employer.

The best thing to do is to take inventory of what you can offer. The first is educational qualifications. The second is your desire to build a career in a chosen field and third, interests and hobbies.

Showcase achievements at school or college to impress the reader. Point out clearly how your educational qualifications are useful for the job you’re applying for.

Highlight some personality traits such as being a team player, problem solver, willing to travel and other aspects which would qualify you for the job. This can help overcome the biggest challenge of lack of experience.

Remember that you’re there to further impress people who are already impressed by your CV or résumé. (Rawpixel pic)

5. Attending interviews

The first thing you must remember is that you’ve been invited for the interview because the employer believes you are suitable for the job, based on the cover letter and CV or résumé.

Next comes facing one or more interviewers. Often, interviewers are themselves in the dark about what to ask a candidate. Leverage this to your fullest benefit. Tell the truth about yourself, your education, family and career objectives.

Further impress the interviewer who is already impressed with your application. A bit of humour, truthfulness and openness could do the trick.

One of the things to avoid at an interview is constant smiling, it makes one look sheepish.

Second, speak in a manner that shows genuine interest in working for that employer and launching a career in that specific field.

Never hesitate to ask for a realistic pay package to avoid underselling yourself and regretting it later.

This article first appeared in

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