The reality of adulthood is you need to find a stable source of income to fund – well – everything. Regardless of if you’re in team “work to live” or “live to work”, living costs money, and the way to get money is to get a job.
If you’ve reached a point in your life where you’re looking for a job for the very first time – either a part time gig for a bit of spending money during high school, or because you’re looking to move out of home during uni, this guide is for you!
Where do I look for a job?
Depending on the job market and time of year, finding available casual or part time positions can be quite straightforward. Majority of jobs are listed online on job search websites so that they’re all in the one place.
The best sites in Australia are:
Aside from online means, some businesses still promote jobs in their shop windows or on their social media pages, so keep an eye out for those too!
It’s also very rare for your first job (or two, or three) to be directly related to your lifelong career goals. Most of us need to spend some time working in jobs or industries that we’re not necessarily super passionate about, in order to support ourselves financially while working towards our career goals.
So don’t get caught up trying to find the “perfect” first job, as it probably doesn’t exist. As long as you’re being treated and paid fairly, any job is a good one to break into the workforce and get some experience under your belt!
What will you need to apply for a job?
To apply for a job, you will need a resume and sometimes a cover letter. Most job applications now happen online, where you put in information about yourself and upload your resume.
Online applications could involve:
- Sending your resume (and maybe cover letter) to the employer by email
- Filling out sections on a job website and adding your resume and cover letter there
However, sometimes you can hand in a physical copy of your resume to retail or hospitality businesses to apply.
What is a resume?
A resume (sometimes referred to as a CV) is a document that lists your contact information, work experience, skills, education, and qualifications. This one-page document is needed for majority of job applications to show an employer whether you’re the right person for the job (before an interview).
It is vital that you perfect your resume before applying for any job so that you have a better chance of landing an interview. Employers often scan through resumes for no longer than 10 seconds, so you want to stand out!
How to structure your resume
This section will include your full name, phone number, email address and location. You can also include your social media handles if it relates to the job you’re applying for (e.g. a job in communications).
This works as an introduction to your resume and outlines your goals and motivations for the workforce. This should only be 2-3 sentences.
Your work experience section is the biggest and most important part of your resume. In this section, you should state your responsibilities and achievements made while in previous jobs.
The order of this section should go as follows:
- Job position
- Business/company name and date employed
- Responsibilities and achievements
If you’re applying for your first job and you have no experience, you can use any volunteering you have done with school or extracurricular activities such as a sport.
Your education section can include the high school you attended and any university qualifications you are completing/have completed. You can also add your VCE ATAR or university GPA if you believe it is relevant to the job.
In this section, you should list your hard and soft skills, and tailor your skills to the one’s listed in the job description. For example, if the job asks for someone with customer service and communication skills, you can add this to your resume (but only if you believe that you have these skills).
As someone who is applying for their first job, you should prioritise listing your soft skills such as communication, organisation, and leadership.
A referee is someone who can confirm your work experience, skills, and qualifications such as a previous employer or manager, a teacher, a sporting coach etc. Basically, you should choose someone that will have something good to say about you!
For a casual or part time role, you should give at least 2 referees. Employers will often contact one (or two) of your referees to gauge more about your soft skills such as work ethic and reliability if they’re considering you for the job.
You should always ask someone if they can be your referee and keep them in the loop during the job process so they can prepare themselves to receive a call.
On your resume, you should list your referees in chronological order and include their name, position, the company they work for, their phone number and their email.
Some additional fields you can add are Languages, Interests and Awards or Certificates.
Note: This structure is only a guide, and you can change certain aspects to your liking.
For some great resume templates visit:
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a more detailed document that you submit alongside your resume (if the application requires it). It provides additional information about your skills and experience and shows the employer who you are and why you are suitable for the role.
How to structure your cover letter
Contact information and greeting
The contact information section will include: your name, phone number and email, and is usually placed in the top right-hand corner of the page. Underneath your contact information to the left of the page, you would put the date, the employer’s name and the company, and the position you’re applying for.
Once you’ve added all the above, you should always try and address the letter to the employer as it shows you’ve personalised the letter to them. However, if you cannot find their name, use a phrase such as ‘to whom this may concern’.
In the introduction, you should state which position you’re applying for and at what company. Also, you can show that you’re interested in the role and why.
Experience and skills
Think of 2-3 key points to use in this section. They can be about either your experience or skills, but ensure they relate to the job requirements. This section involves showing the employer why you’re well suited to the job and what experience and/or skills you have to meet certain criteria, with examples.
To finish the cover letter, you should show your interest in the company, what you love about them and show them that you’ve done your research. Lastly, you should thank the employer for their time, show that you look forward to hearing from them and sign your name at the bottom.
For some great cover letter templates, visit:
Tips for writing a resume and cover letter
- Make sure there are no spelling or grammar errors
- Try to stick to one page
- Use key words found in the job application/description
- Make it clear and consistent in tone and appearance (use the same fonts and margins, utilise white space on the page and keep it informal or formal throughout)
- Save your resume and cover letter as a PDF (the formatting of a word document may change when sent to an employer)
- Tailor your application to the job description (e.g. if they ask for someone with customer services skills, show that you have the experience!)
- Add your own creative flair to show your personality (especially if the job is in the creative industry)
Now it is time to put this information to good use and apply for a job (or a few – the more you apply for, the more practice you get at refining your resume and cover letter and the better chance you have at landing one!). And don’t fret if you don’t get one straight away, it can take a few tries before being offered an interview or a position.
Once you’ve got the application part down pat, the wait for an interview begins!
To learn about how to interview for a casual or part time job, read our blog here!