How to Get Your Very First Job

Landing your first job can seem like a big challenge, but if you are confident, professional and courteous, your demeanor and skills will stand out on their own. Knowing how to get your very first job, though, can be confusing and overwhelming. But with a few easy steps, you can be on your way to job success.


Finding Job Opportunities

1.       Narrow your search terms. Before you can start combing the various resources to find a job, you will need to know what type of job you are trying to land. Since this will be your first work experience, you will want to investigate entry level positions and jobs that don’t require previous experience.

2.       Search online. There are a number of career search engines to help you find a job. The most popular job search engines are CamHR ( These sites allow you to search for jobs by job type, pay range, and location.

-          Create an account on one or many job search engines, such as CamHR

-          Search for jobs that fit your interests, skill sets and location.

-          Save these searches until you have put your resume together.

3.       Check the local newspaper. Most local newspapers have “Phnom Penh Post or etc.” where employers publish advertisements for open positions. If you don't have a subscription to the paper, Sunday is usually the day when newspapers post their heaviest amount of job listings.

4.       Look for “help wanted” signs. “Pounding the pavement” is another way to turn up job leads. Look for local help wanted signs in windows of businesses. Never be afraid to just pop in and inquire about in opening.

Compiling Materials

1.       Create a functional resume. This step will be tricky, because you simply don’t have a lot to list on your resume. However, even with your lack of experience, there are some methods to populate your resume and make it look professional by emphasizing your education and skills.

2.       Draft a cover letter. Many jobs, even some entry-level ones, require applicants to submit a cover letter (a.k.a. letter of application, letter of introduction). These letters are designed to introduce yourself to the hiring director, explain why you want the job, explain why you would excel in the position, and detail any exceptional or notable accomplishments that would prove you are a qualified employee.

3.       Create a job table. Put the jobs you have identified into a table on Word or Excel. This will help keep your job search organized and efficient. There are a few different types of information you will want to include on your job table. 

4.       Collect application materials. Applications will ask you for a lot of detailed information. As such, it is wise to seek out and compile that information before you begin filling out applications. 

5.       Acquire reference letters. Since this is your first shot at getting a job, you won’t have any references from past employers. However, you can approach a teacher or close family friend, really anyone who knows you well, and ask that they write you a personal recommendation or reference letter. This will at least give your prospective employers some indication that others value your talents and abilities.

6.       Collect supplemental documents. Having no previous work experience, it would be helpful if you collected any and all documents related to volunteer work, extracurricular activities and other organizations or events you intend to highlight on your resume. Essentially, you want to be able to prove that you have done the things you claim to have done on the application.

Filling Out the Applications

1.       Collect hard copy applications. Applications can come in varied mediums and will need to be filled out at different times. As discussed above, many employers ask applicants to fill out the application on the spot when the applicant picks it up. Many others will allow you to grab a copy of the application, fill it out at home, and return it later. Still others will ask you to go to their webpage and fill out an online application or print an application, fill it out, and submit the hard copy. Make sure you have the hard copy application for all the jobs that require it.

2.       Take an inventory of electronic applications. These days, the vast majority of applications are filled out online. Make sure you refer to your job table to avoid overlooking an electronic application or to avoid submitting an electronic application multiple times.

3.       Revisit job search engines. Return to your saved jobs in the search engines, and begin applying for the jobs. Be thorough and careful when filling these applications out. Typos and minor errors may reflect poorly on you as a job candidate.

4.       Complete hard copy applications. Again, it important you are accurate and careful when filling these applications out. Nothing is more embarrassing than submitting an application with information scratched out and rewritten outside the margins. The application will look sloppy and submitting it that way makes you look careless.


1.       Wait for the call. If a prospective employer liked your resume and/or application, you will be called for an interview. Schedule this at a mutually agreeable time.

2.       Practice. Practice your interview skills with a parent, a friend or a teacher. Ask them to pretend to be the interviewer, and have them help you get your nerves under control as well as compile comprehensive answers to simple and complex interview questions.

3.       Be punctual. Nothing says “I don’t really care about this job” like showing up to an interview late. If necessary, scout the interview location in advance to ensure you have ample time to get there when the interview comes.

4.       Be confident. You will likely be a little nervous for your first job interview. That is natural. But you have to overcome the nerves. Try reminding yourself before each interview that, no matter what happens, this is the first of many interviews. If you don’t get the job, you will move on and look for something else.

5.       Prepare a message and stick to it. There are certain points you are going to need to get across during the interview. Figure out what these points are and clearly get them across during the interview.

6.       Nail your interview. Since you have no work experience, your interview is really all a hiring director has to try to get an impression of you as an employee and as a human being. With this in mind, you will want to do the following things to leave the hiring director with the best impression possible.

7.       Follow up. If you feel the interview went well, wait a week or so and check back in with the business or hiring director. You don’t want to pester them, but you do want to remind them that you interviewed. Try sending a follow-up thank you card directly to the person who interviewed you.

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