The Economic Times daily newspaper is available online now.

    What you need to crack the coveted first job, kickstart your career


    Know how to assess yourself and acquire skills crucial to getting hired.

    Getty Images
    Devashish Chakravarty

    Devashish Chakravarty

    Founder & CEO,, a job loss assurance company

    How do you find your first job? Whether you are a student pursuing graduation or a struggling graduate, this is a challenging journey full of uncertainty and questions. Currently, the job market is hyper competitive for firsttime job seekers, or freshers. There are many vacancies on job sites. Yet, finding a job is elusive because for most vacancies there are usually 100-500 applicants. What you need is a plan to crack the coveted first job and kickstart your career.

    Know the captain
    Before you set sail on your career journey, know the captain of the ship—you. Selfassessment is critical to get started, to pick the right goal and figure out the efforts you need to put in. First, list out your academic qualifications and certifications. Then think about your strengths. Do they lie in the domain of problem-solving, communication, leadership and dealing with people, or in creative spaces?

    The next step is to list what fascinates or interests you. Look at the courses you studied and projects you worked on to list what grabbed your attention. Include activities where you were happy to work or where you lost track of time. Once you have made your list, seek inputs from teachers, mentors and senior friends. As a student, use the campus career services facility for a formal skill assessment test, if available. The best part of this exercise is that it prepares you for a necessary, periodic self-assessment for the rest of your career.

    Grow your profile
    Use your self-assessment as a starting point for personal growth. What kind of job or career do you want to build? Whether you choose sales or operations, human resources or coding, you currently don’t have the experience to be hired instantly. Instead, what you need to show an employer is your willingness to work, ability to succeed, energy to execute and your relationship with people. Choose internships to show your willingness to work and liking for a role (see box). Build achievements to showcase an ability to work hard and succeed. Choose extra-curricular responsibilities to demonstrate energy and ability to work with others. Let’s look at each one separately.
    Build on achievements: Campus life offers you the option to either coast along aimlessly or steer your ship to multiple achievements. Every achievement or goal you choose to work on will separate you from the crowd of fresher resumes on the employer’s desk. First, look at the course curriculum, where ‘batch topper’ or ‘rank holder’ or ‘award for the best project’ are meaningful goals to work towards. Sports is the next domain. If you have been good at a sport, find out if can you improve it to competitive levels. Many employers recognise that sportspersons usually make good team players and resilient, successful employees. Creative and extra-curricular pursuits is the last domain. Does your campus have a club or competition where you can leverage your creative strength? You are not here to show a hobby, but to target achievements like winning a competition or an award.
    Take on responsibilities: The employer is looking for an employee who can be trusted and be accountable for results. The best way to grow and become that person is to take on responsibilities and commitments early on. Are you volunteering for campus functions and festivals, and growing into a position of leadership or responsibility? Are you committing your time and self to the NCC (National Cadet Corps) or NSS (National Service Scheme) and earning your certificates? What are the other clubs or organisations in your college or community or society where you can work towards a position of responsibility? Know that it takes time and effort to volunteer and serve before you earn such a position. Meanwhile, you will benefit by developing both people and operations skills, as future employers recognise your position as a trustworthy person to be hired.

    Placements, networks, resumes and interviews
    The final step is to get shortlisted and selected for your first job. You need to submit a resume to get shortlisted and attend interviews to be considered for selection. To craft your resume, research online and look at resumes of friends and seniors. Get it vetted by others before you apply for jobs. Treat interviews like practical exams or viva. Prepare well for them by practising mock interviews and taking feedback. Finally, how will you find jobs to apply to? There are three methods. On campus, the placement process is your friend and brings opportunities to your door.

    The second is through online job and internship websites, including Naukri, LinkedIn and others. The final and most effective one is through other people, also known as your network. This includes friends, family members, seniors from college and internship colleagues, who you can request to refer you to vacancies within their companies and circles. You may not get a job at the first place you apply to, or even the tenth. Learn to persist through the rejections and continue to grow through internships, other experiences and achievements.

    Why you need internships & part-time jobs
    1.IT’S A MUST
    Graduation does not guarantee you a job, but relevant experience and achievements vastly improve your chances. The way to build it is through internships and part-time jobs. Whether you are a student or a graduate without a job, seek out paid and unpaid internships and part-time gigs to build and showcase your seriousness and skills.
    Everyone who is career-oriented is doing internships. How will you stand out? Use every opportunity to strengthen your internship profile. Choose in-office internships over remote ones. Do at least 2-3 internships and parttime jobs from campus. Make sure they are different in scope to show diversity in what you worked on and what you learnt.
    During your internship, always chase more work. Do not waste the opportunity and time spent by simply sticking to what you are asked to do. Be curious about tasks and projects the other employees are working on. Raise your hand and volunteer to help. You learn more about how businesses work, and discover your strengths and interests.
    While volunteering for more tasks, don’t fail on the primary project or task assigned to you. Identify the minimum outcomes that are expected from you and the outstanding results that will totally floor them. Deliver beyond expectations to stand out as ‘that intern’ who they would like to rehire as an employee.
    Your internship is an opportunity you need and have been lucky to get. Don’t mess it up. This is the start for building professional social skills and working in teams. Observe and learn how to be a likeable person in the world of work. The more people like working with you, the greater is the likelihood of finding and keeping jobs in the future.

    (The author founder & CEO,, a job loss assurance company.)
    (Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of
    Experience Your Economic Times Newspaper, The Digital Way!

    (Your legal guide on estate planning, inheritance, will and more.)

    Download The Economic Times News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.

    The Economic Times

    Stories you might be interested in