“My first job.” It sounds sweet and frightening all at the same time. When you’ve invested years of yourself in studying for a career, the prospect of facing that career head-on can be quite intimidating. The best way to turn it around is to think of your first job as a launching point for the rewarding career you’ve worked so hard to attain.

It’s an exciting time of life and you’re bound to make as many mistakes as triumphs, but even at the peak of your career, the same will occur. Here are some ways you can dip your toe in the employment pool and ease yourself in, instead of allowing fear and doubt to pull you in.

careers counsellor
Your University’s Careers Counsellor will be able to guide you regarding who to talk to, who to apply to and where to look for the kind of job you want. They will also likely have connections with previous students or with employers who have expressed interest in hearing from your University’s students. The Careers Counsellor could be a wealth of hot leads so start there.

Get yourself out there and visible. Online visibility is hugely important today because many employers looking to hire will look there first, and one of the more popular ports of call is LinkedIn. Now while it may seem unlikely that you’ll get your first job after University via a site where you have to list your employment experience, but keep in mind that the work you’ve done may not be the priority.

Some employers value academic learnings and qualifications as highly as extra-curricular or employment experience. Besides, once you start writing, you may realise you have more to offer than you’d first thought.

  • Have you held part-time or casual jobs during high school or while studying at Uni?
  • Did you participate in campus activities and groups that hold relevance to the career you’re seeking?
  • Who can you connect with on LinkedIn that will provide personal proof that you are of great character, that you are reliable, a fast learner, have special insights, or other valuable elements?
  • Did you establish and/or work for a campus publication?
  • Did you mentor or tutor other students while at Uni?
  • Have you travelled extensively?
  • Do you have an enterprising spirit? Perhaps you ran a successful online business selling widgets.
  • Follow LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your desired career.
  • Write articles and post them on LinkedIn to attract attention to your expertise.
  • Build a network among the industry you want to work in, and also associated industries. Seek out others of your age group and outside of it. Find organisations whose culture you appreciate. Approach others for connections. Respond to articles in a way that demonstrates your understanding or offers something of value.

Craft your LinkedIn profile to be appealing from the employer’s perspective. Consider what they would want to read that would compel them to make contact. Be there when they’re looking and be ready with what they want to know.

six degrees of separation

Grow your network steadily and surely. Not everyone will be of immediate value to you but keep in mind the ‘six degrees of separation’ concept, that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away by way of introduction. In this way, the adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” can be modified to “it’s not just who you know, it’s who knows them too”. There are many ways you can put yourself in a position to meet others who can help you get your first job after University.

  • Attend meet-and-greet events, product launches, business expos, speaking engagements for your industry, and Brains Trust-type events.
  • Find out where large organisations are headquartered and make a point of mingling at their Friday afternoon drinks at the local bar.
  • Subscribe to the newsletters of organisations you either want to work for or that operate in the space to which you aspire.
  • Attend conferences that match your career goals.

Always carry a business card or contact card so you can introduce yourself and be contactable later on. Consider including your photo on your card so you will be more memorable.

Ideally, you would start looking for an internship while still at Uni. While you are looking for your first job after University, spend the time constructively by gaining valuable experience and making a name for yourself at reputable organisations. Landing a job at a well-known company will look fantastic on your CV, and personal references from key partners will be even better.  

A lot of industry-specific professional associations encourage Junior Associates or other entry-level memberships. It’s an opportunity for the new and green acorns to learn from the tall oaks who’ve seen it and done it all before them.

It might be a Law Society, the Australian Institute of Management, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, or the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society. Whatever your field, there’s bound to be an association or society that will be perfect for you.

A list of them is available here.

one foot in front of the other

When you’re looking for your first job, fresh out of Uni, it’s wise to be strategic. You don’t want to waste time being everyone’s ‘lackey’ or spreading yourself too thinly. Think carefully about what you want. Do you mind relocating? Are you looking for mentorship as well as a job? Will an opportunity provide scope for growth? Are you keen to specialise eventually? Is money your prime motivator or is the experience more important?

Be careful not to rush into any job just because it’s the first one offered. Also, be wary of employers who seem overly keen to hire you but have not considered your real suitability for a role. Put a plan together. Make a list of your needs and wants and your not-negotiables. 

Decide where you’re willing to be flexible and where you’re not. This is your career. It may be your first job after University but with the right planning and forward movement, you can blaze a trail of success.

You can view more job-related information on our website, including:

Once your job and visa have been finalised, depending on the type of working visa, the Department of Home Affairs will specify whether health cover is required or recommended. While you are in Australia on your working visa, you will be responsible for all your health costs. Your health costs will not be covered by Medicare, Australia's national health system unless your country has a reciprocal health care agreement with Australia.

Australia has reciprocal health agreements with several other countries, which you can view at Services Australia.

If your country is not covered by a reciprocal health agreement, Allianz Care provides Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC), which meets the relevant Government health insurance requirements for visas which are subject to condition 8501.