Entering the Workforce: Things I never thought to think about

Top 3 things I didn’t learn from school that helped me land my first job.

Or at least I wasn’t aware I had I learned them.

When I was trying to narrow my list to 3 things I found helpful during my first job interview, I was reminded that I had, infact, practiced all 3 at a young age; as a high school teenager. To give a clearer picture, let’s walk through a typical Friday morning before high school.

1-    I have done my homework reading for the days classes and am quickly reviewing any important points I may need to quickly recall during class discussion.

2-    I am obsessing over what to wear-looking closely to make sure it is all appropriate for school and of course that it reflects my ultra cool personality.

3-    As I head out the door I negotiate with my mother about my curfew for the evening, seeing if I can get “just an extra hour” (because I know all my friends get that)

Those 3 points translate into my top 3 helpful hints:

1-    Research the company: know their philosophy, history and motto.  (this also comes in handy for #2 and #3)


3-    Become an expert negotiator

Now these are simply tips, not guidelines.

1-    You obviously know about the position you are applying for and you chose to apply there for a reason.  In addition, You probably know at least a little bit about the company you are applying to. Some of the most important things I like to know going into an interview are:

  • Size of Company.
  • Origins ( if a small company; is it family owned, privately owned etc. etc.)
  • Philosophy/motto/goal.  And how you, in your role will support it
The more you know, the more comfortable and confident you will be during the interview process.  You will also have more direction and clarity in you responses.

2- So what to wear?  I recommend going with either a traditional or non traditional suit.

  Traditional suit: A 2 piece black, brown, gray or navy suit.  The ultimate business look.

  • The suit jacket is paired with either pants or a skirt.  For under the suit jacket I suggest a shirt with personality i.e. ruffles, color or print.
  • When it comes to shoes I will often marry comfort with style.  Don’t wear your Saturday night shoes to your interview and please keep the house shoes indoors.  Keep the length of the pant in mind when choosing your shoes.
  • GUYS: Choose a sleek dress shoe, or a trendy dress shoe with laces. Also, please invest in some dress socks, absolutely no white socks in dark shoes.
  • GUYS: Find a tie that reflects your personality, the tie is your statement piece.

  Non traditional suit: To show a bit more personality you can pair a nice black slack with a colorful suit coat. Perhaps a bright blue suit jacket with black pants, or simple suit jacket with a patterned skirt.  If your personal style is more outgoing a splash of color is great, If you embrace a boho style try pairing a suit jacket with a flowing skirt or a flowing top with suit pants.  A basic rule is to pair one item of your personal style with the suit separate.  Get it? Good!  Now please don’t spend too much money when it comes to your first job.  You will be surprised what you can find at goodwill.

3-Become an expert negotiator.  This can be tough, I know it was hard for me but worth it in the long run.

  • Do your homework before going in, know what you need to make in terms of salary.  I personally don’t think you should ask for much more than what you require to live comfortably….but that is just me.
  • Approach the negotiations with a calm mindset-don’t be overly confident but be firm.  Remember HR always bids low so in most cases there is room to negotiate and it is your job to figure out just how much room.
  • Don’t go straight in for the offer, make conversation and ease into the negotiations.
  •  Know what your “ace” is.  What do you have that can get you the better deal? Don’t show all your cards at once
  • So what should you ask for? It does not always have to be a pay increase.  After the intial offer, you will want to know when you are available for review and raise.  Then when you ask for increase in salary, start high.  Ask for 20% increase at the start. You could very well get exactly what you ask for or end up with a happy medium.

I hope these tips are helpful, good luck to you as you begin your career! 

What did you think? Please comment:

Let me know if you found this post helpful!

Share what tips you (the reader) found helpful during your own job finding process!

If you (the reader) used any of the tips-did you find them helpful?


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