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How To Prepare For Your First Job

Work Awesome EP201

How To Prepare For Your First Job

Work Awesome EP201

You just graduated from college or received the certification you need to enter the workforce. Now what? Where should you start? Is one job board better than another? Is your resume ready to share? Are your expectations of pay realistic? In this episode, we’ll chat about how to prepare for your first career and share a few lessons that we’ve learned along the way.


Welcome to the Work Awesome podcast. This is episode number one. I didn't warn you guys that this is episode one.

How to prepare for your first job today. I have Megan Macy, and Sarah with me. This is also the first time that we're in this lovely studio and in person. So welcome everybody. This is a little weird because we're all in person, not gonna lie.

Quickly just to go over the description of this episode you just graduated from college or receive the certification you need to enter the workforce. Now what, where should you start? Is one job board better than another? Is your resume ready to share or your expectations of pay realistic and this episode will chat about how to prepare for your first career and share a few lessons that we've learned along the way. I actually did pretty well that time. I found a lot yesterday.

Alright so yeah.

Macy and Sarah. Since you are new this season, why don't you go ahead and kind of just give a brief overview of what your job is?

Casey, you wanna start? I know before and I mentioned this almost every episode. We are a government contractor so our work varies a lot. Macy works directly for one of our customers, so she isn't going to give too much detail about her job, but she can give some general overview of what she does for kind of day today. So go ahead.

Alright, hello, So what I do is I actually work on the naval base with our Australian Cooperative partners.

So it's my day today is pretty much interfacing with them and knowing the ends and outs and giving training sessions of.

You know how to interact with your cooperative program and.

More training sessions of how the contact officers, for example, for these people I give those trainings as well.

But mainly it's it's just.

Learning how to get along with your cooperative teams.

A lot of coordination sounds like a lot of training stuff.

And your actual title is test information Manager, correct? Or no longer no longer. So what is it now that was?

The previous one, now it is a I am a disclosure analyst disclosure.

OK, so I'm going to tell our team to fix that because that's not right in our system.

It was right like a few months ago.

Sarah, you are have been on the podcast before you're part of the communications team at the corporate office.

Give a little background on what you do for avian.

So yeah, like you said, I work for corporate so a little bit different than Macy. I sit in the headquarters office. I had the privilege of working with Ian. I do.

I do mostly internal communications, some external communication, an mostly graphic design, so mostly still communication, whereas Ian is the opposite. He does more video and audio.

Yeah, so Sarah. Join the team and that means I don't have to do graphic design anymore, which is great for everybody.

Fun stuff, yeah I.

Really love it. I like.

It, but Sarah is way better at it than.

I am but getting paid.

Shooter so not drawings. I don't like drawing.

And everyone knows I'm the integrated communications marketing specialist for the company. Megan as a recruiter for the company and let's jump into some of those questions I went through during the description. So this conversation is pretty much going to run right through their graduate, graduated from college. Now what? So? Think back for me. It was awhile ago, but for you guys, maybe not as long.

When you first graduated from college, what were those first steps you took out getting?

Into your career fields.

Whoever wants to go first.

Whose Qi can go?

First, it doesn't matter for me. I graduated college moved back home. My mom was living in New Jersey at that time, so I moved back in with my mom. I didn't have a job lined up right after college, so it was pretty much immediately like, alright. I graduated. Now I need to find a job for me. It took a little bit longer. I actually worked at a restaurant for like six months or so and then found my way to where we are now. Not at this company, but for a non profit in this area.

The nonprofit operated a lot like a Chamber of Commerce, so I met a lot of really interesting people. A lot of high level people, which then eventually led to where I am now.

So there was definitely a path there of kind of getting into base level entry level communications field and then figuring out what the next steps after that would be.

So that's why we're looking for anyone else want to kind of give their path.

To I'll do that, so right out of college you know I expected to find something within my field. I went to school for marine science, so I'm sitting here looking for science, jobs, anything biology related.

So I actually went through quite a few jobs because a lot of those jobs are grant funded. It's long story, but Grant funding doesn't last forever, so I had some pretty bad jobs like I was doing. Like I was working with inmates at a job, yeah?

And eventually you know friend of a friend kind of recommended avian to me, which was. I was surprised because it wasn't in my field at all, but they wound up taking me 'cause of my, uh, statistical abilities.

And it was actually a really good fit. Surprisingly enough, you know, so you don't necessarily have to find a job within the degree that you got to be happy.

And we actually do talk about that quite often on the podcast quickly. What was so we know your current title? What was your title when you first got hired at avian?

Do you remember test information question?

Was it OK? So it just is and maybe Megan. Or maybe you can talk to us? Are there levels within that title or is it like pretty much you don't know. You don't know whether it's fine, I just I wasn't sure if there was like entry level and you just come on and then you make your way within the test information Manager like a senior level and so on or.

What there was kind of, but then they merged the two positions, so it kind of defeated the purpose anyway, so they called us all the same titles anyway.

Gotcha gotcha. Alright? So Sarah or Megan want to?

Yell jump in for me. When I graduated. I think I started applying for jobs when I was still in college. I interviewed at so many places I was looking for specifically like a PR job, but ended up coming back home here Summers County I didn't work for maybe like 4 weeks and then I ended up getting a job as like a marketing assistant. A lot of it was.

Data entry and not marketing related. I probably did like 10% marketing stuff, but I stayed there for about a year and that's where I realize, like what I really wanted to do, which is when I came to avian and like actually started doing what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. So I started off at a job that I wasn't. I knew I wasn't going to stay at an around here. Also, I was with a private company that had nothing to do with the base, which is unheard of. So yeah. So when people ask me like, oh, where were you when you first got home? Like some random company, yeah?

Funny yeah, I still haven't graduated so I'm still working on that, but I think so I kind of started in fast food and retail and the hospitality and the normal. I guess the norm of that, but as I've been taking classes I've been able to kind of found this position and even the one prior to this when I was working for a behavioral Health Organization. That's where I got a lot of my recruiting experience. That kind of just fed into what I actually really like doing is working with people, and this was a really good field for me. So for me.

Continuing that education and still working towards that degree has been helpful with even where I'm at now and kind of being able to grow on that. So still a journey to get there, but it's been helpful.

You got this.

I also think that there's a good point there where you haven't graduated college yet, but were able to find positions without a college degree. There still training out there that proves that you are an expert or good at the stuff that you want to do for your career.

Yeah, I would say definitely one of the things that I think got me where I'm at now. At such a quick point, even without my degree was one of my previous jobs. I became a manager and I moved up in the company so I was really invested in actually.

Trying to get to do more and to take on more, and I think when I found like my big my big person job I would say that for like the next like real you know not 'cause I was working a jewelry store at the time and I was I mean working at a jewelry store's manager was a lot. It was a lot but it helped me be able to kind of get into a field that I had no idea what behavioral health was when I got into that and then when I came here I was like what are all these terms? What are you guys saying to me it took so long but that helps so I would just say you know even if you don't agree one definitely make sure you kind of take those chances because sometimes there are opportunities that you can still get a position without a degree.

And to just give your best, no matter where you're at. And I've always like even if you're like picking gum off the floor like do it the best that you possibly can so you can move up and that helps be able to kind of get you in Windows and doors you think you may not have been able to.

Yeah, in the in the moving up part of that it always. You can probably talk to this more than I can ever recruiter. It's always nice to see when you have progression and constant progression in a job, even if you are picking up gum off the floor. Maybe best gun Picker upper after next person picks up.

Or something I don't know.

Yeah, sweeping hair. That's the next upgrade.

Alright, so next question job boards. Do you guys remember?

Where or maybe you didn't use a job board? What job would you found your first job on? Or maybe this question goes somewhere else? Do you have a favorite job board when you were looking for a job? Did you go directly to like mine was always? Indeed, this was before LinkedIn really old. This was before LinkedIn. LinkedIn had their like job section and they might have had it, but it just wasn't as robust as it is now.

So my stop was always indeed I would just type in.

Random things at fun. Fact to be typing communications, you get like every job available because everyone is looking for great communicators exactly so you have to be a little bit more specific. If you're in communication is looking and looking to get a job, maybe type in something a little bit more specific than communications talking, but minor.

Mine was always indeed, do you remember where you found your first job?

I think it needs a good one from Recruiter standpoint, just because that's one of the most reputable.

I would say if you were like specifically targeting company, just go to their website to apply directly from their website. But for actually like my first four jobs I just went into the place because I've always been taught that it was really important to take a paper resume and like show face and show you represent yourself the first time. So even if you're applying on the job boards, I still always went in and I was like, hey, are you hiring and it just so happened that every time I went in they were hiring an I got hired. You know I did it. I was able to do an interview on the spot. So I think just kind of making sure to represent yourself like that too.

Is helpful, so that's that's what I did.


I'm glad you said that to go to directly to the company's website, because I would. So one tactic I would use, I guess, is that I would find the job on indeed and then go directly to their website and I don't for me it was just like, oh, I think.

The recruiter might look at me different if I'm applying directly from their website and be like, oh, this person took the time to go to our website and to learn about the company rather than just finding a job on a job board and applying that way.

We can see it. In fact, we do see when it comes to our tracking system where you applied through, so it's not that it necessarily looks better, but it also in that sense it kind of maybe looks like you actually looked and read the website. You're showing more interest in it, so we do see that.

So I I did use LinkedIn an.

How like jazz. But I will say while you're in college, those connections that you make if you are a college student.

Those are like the big things. I didn't believe anybody when they told me they like make connections. You get jobs and like no, that's not how this works. A lot of the time like most of my positions that I've gotten word from word of mouth, I did find the like and oyster hatchery job. I found that on I think indeed I think so. That was like the one job I actually went to like a job board and found, but most of them have been just word of mouth and make your connections.

Also, a really good point. The ideal situation, I would assume that people have in their mind is like get an internship college, do that internship, get hired by that same company and it doesn't always work out that way. I interned for Goodwill Industries up in Frederick, MD during college and if the director could have hired me, she probably would have. But because there are nonprofit and don't have the biggest budget, there wasn't a position. So yes there is.

This ideal picture of what you think is going to happen, but that might not always be the case, so those connections are super important, even though she couldn't hire me. She helped me find people that were looking for.

Employees so.

Personally, I use LinkedIn, but at the time I want to say when I would go on, indeed there was a lot of like mixture between like an office job and then a job at a restaurant. So it was hard to kind of filter through those. 'cause like you said, like I'm looking for communications jobs like and if you get really specific like especially in Saint Mary's County, if I typed in graphic design I get no jobs so it's kind of like a happy medium there. So I just found that LinkedIn had like the most jobs that I was actually looking for, which is why I used it.

But I find it interesting that you say to like come in that you would go in and work with your resume because I used to do that when I would apply for like restaurants and stuff. And that's how I've got all my restaurant jobs. But what if someone came into the avian office and said, hey, are you guys hiring? Can I talk to the recruiter? I would.

Venture out to say that that's happened before.

I know it's happened before, but I'm not sure anybody was here when it happened, 'cause I remember it happening.

So that's the hard thing though, because I've found recently a lot of people are turning you away though 'cause they don't want the paper copies anymore.

So I think sometimes it's just good, maybe just to show face or just say hey I put an application and if somebody is here maybe I'll talk to them, but going back to the connections to I think LinkedIn has you know the hashtags and stuff too so you can search jobs that way which has been seeing a lot of people using and that also can help you build your connection. So even if you're not actually physically applying for a job, if you know there's a company or a group that you want to work for it to be able to kind of go after. And I hate like stalking them, but like finding everybody who's in that company talking them.

Eventually they're going to see, so that goes back to an episode we did a long time ago about making sure your profiles, like up to date, but I think those are all good sources.

What was I going to say something about? Oh monster, so you said when you were looking for jobs, indeed, like kind of clumps, jobs together. Now for me it was monster.com when I was looking on that website specifically. I had that same situation where it would just be like these random jobs and a lot of them are sponsored right? Which means they're paying like these companies are paying to make sure that these jobs are in front of you and they had nothing to do with what I was looking for. So that does get annoying.

For me it was monster. It sounds like indeed might do that. Now LinkedIn is a pretty good source if I if I would say so. I think everyone agrees that LinkedIn is a good way to go. I'm mostly.

Facebook yeah exactly yeah.

That everything is in one place.

It's just really easy to use and.

Keep your profile updated for.

It's basically your online resume, right?

Alright, talking about resumes. Good segue resume ready. So we have had some discussions about resumes before.

Let's just quickly talk about what your resume looked like out of college and maybe versus what it looks like now. If you learned anything from handing that out of college, resume to future employers or not so mine because I was in communications because I was interested in graphics and video was like this fancy graphical. Probably nobody understood how to read resume.

I quickly realized that that might not be the best option if you do some Google searches about like.

Applicant like automation. Basically their systems that are now reading resumes and this has been around for awhile where they're reading resumes and basically denying you or putting you through.

The graphical ones probably not the best for those, so definitely my tip is just to keep. It sounds boring, but keep it pretty simple and pretty plain as far as resumes are concerned.

I will say to the other reason, for that is when it comes in through the ATS. A lot of the time it's just torn apart so it gets really jumbled. So I've seen like a lot of people like a lot of graphics. People have, like the fancy banners and stuff on it, it gets destroyed, so sometimes we can't even tell what you do. So definitely be mindful of that.

I again I have since I haven't graduated, mine was more so just like a lot of like entry level positions, but my resume by the time I got to my first big people job was it was a lot of had gone from Wallowa as a part time person to a manager. And then I went from a. I worked seasonal water jewelry store to a store manager and I had done all those like within two within like 2 years. So that was really good for me to be able to represent that. And the other thing that I would suggest you is obviously don't lie on your resume and we've had these.

We've had these resume talks, but it was helpful for me like when I applied for my job. One of the things that the recruiter said was obviously being able to hire people, and that wasn't the technical term for what I did. But as a store manager at the Dollar Store I was hiring people, so I kind of compared the job descriptions of what the companies wanted and I was able to upload the things that I actually did 'cause they didn't lie, but I wasn't able to kind of intertwine those and I would say even for college people who have graduated and it's really hard 'cause like they say you need these years of experience before you can start, but you can't get it. 'cause I will give it to you.

To still include like if you did any internships during college or any even though courses or classes you may have taken or certifications you got during that time. Because we can still count that towards your years of experience.

And I think you slightly hit on this like tailoring your resume for the job you're applying for. It's really easy just to like have this.

Resume that fits every job you really want, but the ones that stand out are the ones that are tailored to the positions that you're applying for.

Anything else good?

In fact, there's this. There is a site, gosh, I do not remember it, but you can put in the description of the position that you're applying for, and it'll like bold. The words that that position is looking for. 'cause a lot of resumes go through like a filter system, right? You turn it in and they're like automatically filtering out specific words so you can put your resume in there and see what your words are that are bolded cut. I wish I could remember 'cause it's a really good resource.

Will figure it out and will.

Post a link. But yeah, I agree with that using the resources that are available to us now is extremely smart. Do your research. We say it all the time. Do your research. Taylor resume use the resources that you have available. Any other resume tips that you guys want to talk about?

I did on mine since I worked at a restaurant for a really long time and then I had like 'cause on mine. I could fit like 3 positions ish which is I think a good amount and you don't want to do too many because you want to show that you're like strong in those three positions, but the first one I did was the restaurant and I just use that because I had two internships.

And then I stayed at the restaurant for like 6 or 7 years. So I wanted to show like longevity with that because obviously the intern ships were at most a year long. They were with my grade. So like just showing that even if it's a restaurant and you're not applying for a restaurant job, just showing that like you were a good worker, you did stay there for six years and they wanted you to be there for six years. Has jobs. Yeah, exactly.

Also, long resumes are not always good, right?

One page, one page.

This is very much tailored to like a college audience, which this specific episode, I mean, people coming out of the Navy or coming out of any military branch. We know that there is a very general way that resumes are taught, I guess is the right word for that. Maybe cut it back a little bit.


Most people aren't going to read past the first or second page.

Yeah, mine was like 4 pages. Even after that, even after the resume class. That's the bad thing about resume class.

And you're like, no, I'm not listening to that.

No, I thought I could just I.

Definitely right through I.

Think there's a time and a place I don't know that every job requires this novel of past experience. So definitely be careful that again, going back to your research just kind of get an understanding of what people are expecting now.

Could really help get you the job looking for. Let's talk about realistic pay.

So this is a difficult.

A little bit difficult to talk about because nobody really talks likes talking about money. We do have an episode called negotiating salary. I think where we talk a little bit about what to expect in at least the government sector or the sector that we work in because a lot of our salaries are determined by the contracts that we win. We don't really have much leeway for negotiating salary unfortunately, but there are definitely places where you can negotiate salary, get maybe some benefits out of it straight out of college. I was like, yeah.

I'm ready to make $50,000 and Payless Halo.


Then I got hired by a nonprofit.

Yeah, it didn't happen that way. So what? I guess again this is a hard question. What were you guys expecting? Pay wise right out of college?

And Megan, I know he didn't go to college, but

is there on? I guess the recruiter side anything that you've seen from candidates that maybe are right out of college and they're like expecting to get paid this super high salary. And you're like you don't quite have the experience for that, yeah?

So actually, surprisingly, no. I think 50,000 is probably a pretty average number that is normally.

About average number now and for not a nonprofit organization.

Yeah, but I will say it's hard because we're now in this time where people with 15 years of experience could not be getting paid as much as the.

You just graduated college with a degree, so it's a really weird time that we're in when it comes to trying to figure out salary, because who should really be paid more, you know, or should get that salary of the higher salary. But I think that a lot of what I've seen is people wanting to pay off their debts, which is completely understandable and that *****. Wanting to pay their loans off.

But I would say when it when it comes to like you're coming out of your first job is do obviously do your research about what's the market value for where you live and the cost of living for you. Live and just kind of being realistic with that, because you're not. I mean, if you live in an area like Maryland where it could be higher, then maybe you can ask for more. But if you go to North Carolina where it's not as high, you're not going to do that. So kind of understanding what it is and where you're at. But also with being realistic with yourself because especially if you have kids or you have other responsibilities or anything, you still do have to make a certain amount of money to live.

So just being what's dunk. Don't go with the bare minimum of what you're going to scrape by and be house poor. You always want to ask for more and try to go up just a little bit. That way you can have some sort of freedom and you're not stressed out and dying, but I think that just being realistic with where you're at and what you need and then the time comes where you're able to either be promoted or you move forward. And that comes with experience and time.

Yeah, I definitely think there's some calculations that can be made here to figure out some of those numbers, like what what is that baseline that you're going to be comfortable with? What do you need to cover that student debt?

Our student loan each month.

There's definitely calculations that you can kind of figure out ahead of time and then look for jobs that fit that. That idea of a realistic pay anything else about pay.

I'm just going to say that when you want it so you want to do your research also on the position and what that position would typically pay in the area. Because if you ask for something that's too much, you're immediately disqualifying yourself, so you but you also want to be yourself, and if they say they can pay 60 and you lowball yourself, they're probably going to be the robot.

You really want to just do your research, even if you can't, 'cause a lot of jobs now, including us, don't always post the salary because it can be fluctuating a lot of positions. Don't post that, but either finding reviews in the past or just kind of digging into it. Just making sure that you're reasonable.

With that, so now that we're talking about this, there are websites. LinkedIn is one of them that has started posting, like estimated salaries. I've always wondered, are those estimated salaries accurate for what people are getting paid?

You know they're pretty accurate. I think it's like Glassdoor.

Yeah, how Glassdoor has it? There's actually a website calledsalary.com where you can put in specific job titles and locations.

The annoying thing with that looks like my mom's a nurse for example, and she always gets so frustrated 'cause it will say 15 to $38.00 an hour and then they go for 15 when they offered the job and she's like what the heck are you talking about? So sometimes they leave it really open, which is where it comes down to. Then you doing that even deeper research and then what you can or can't.

I've seen postings that are like you can make 25,000, or you can make 125.



so go ahead so it's funny when I actually I lowballed myself when applying for this position by a lot. I didn't realize it until I got the job offer and I was like I was in tears honestly.

But it's really not. I mean, it was. It's it's literally like the average that you were saying, but it was like I love my ball myself like by like $20,000. So when I did when I got more than that I was like Oh my gosh this is the thing 'cause I didn't know straight out of college. How much to make either. So these are good questions to ask and you know I'm sitting here thinking well to science job. I'm going to be making bank so I'm applying probably high end positions at like.

Probably some of the big name companies.

Yeah, yeah, of course I can't think of it now because I have been so far out of the field for so long. But like I applied for like.

Oh yeah, I give up some government agency for marine stuff. And yeah, it didn't work out.

We're going to do what they can to make you happy, like there are a lot of people aren't going to lowball you anymore, especially when you're in this world. Like maybe fast food industries and things like that, but they're going to a lot of the time. Even we do. We tend to come in on the higher end of things because we want you to want to work for us. We want you to be happy here if you're.

A good candidate definitely pretty competitive, so you want to send out to your employer, but your employer or perspective employer wants to stand out to you as well. So low balling you does not do anything good in anyone situation.

Also, they're going to find out eventually that they're not making enough money, and at that point you're going to pay them that anyway, and they're not going to be happy in the end because.

Yes, you did lowball them so.