Landing your first job can be difficult. You’re looking to gain new skills, but find yourself competing with people who may have years of experience. Getting your foot in the door might be tricky, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible – with some careful planning and the use of the tips listed below, you will be well on your way to your first job!

1. Get Your Documentation.

In order to work, you will need documentation that proves your identity, as well as your eligibility to work in the U.S. (You can find more specific information on the required documentation here). Some of these documents can take several weeks to receive, so if you don’t already have them, be sure to request them well before you actually hope to work.  

2. Showcase Your Skills.

Even if you don’t have prior work experience to list, a resume is still an important part of your job search. It helps an employer understand who you are as an applicant, and why you would be a good fit for the job. Volunteer experience, academic awards and honors, or involvement in teams and clubs are all things that can help to demonstrate your marketable skills, and help make it easier for an employer to picture you succeeding at their company. If you’re not sure where to begin, use a resume-building tool like this to help you get started. 

3. Work for the experience.

All work is noble, and everyone starts somewhere, so don’t miss out on valuable experience holding out for the “perfect” job. While your first job will most likely not be your dream job, know that it is a valuable stepping stone to other amazing opportunities. Not only will it enable you to learn new skills and build your resume, but it will also help you develop a clearer idea of your professional strengths and interests so that you can pursue your goals with confidence. 

4. Know Your Options.

Check out several different job boards to find out what type of work is available in your area, and talk to multiple people to find out what their first job was. Research a variety of entry-level jobs so that you can get an idea of which ones would be of the greatest interest to you. It can be tempting to jump at the first opportunity you hear about, but if you’re looking for experience that could lead to something more, it’s important to try to find something that you could see yourself doing for a while. 

5. Spread the Word.

In addition to conducting your own job search, let your friends, parents, teachers, and other trusted individuals know that you are looking for work. Don’t underestimate the power of networking and referrals – many people get jobs this way. This way, they can let you know if they happen to hear of any potential leads. There’s a good chance that the people you know may tell you about opportunities that you wouldn’t have heard of otherwise, because many available jobs are never advertised. 

6. Ace the Interview. 

So you’ve applied for a job and were selected for an interview – congrats! To make a great impression in person: dress appropriately, and be polite, engaged, and prepared to discuss what makes you a good fit for the job. Don’t bring a friend or family member with you to the interview; while it might make an unfamiliar situation more comfortable for you, it is unprofessional and could send the message that you don’t take the opportunity seriously. 

7. Partner with an Expert. 

Consider partnering with a staffing expert like Manpower. They work to fill a variety of jobs ranging from entry-level to professional, and are highly knowledgeable about the types of opportunities in your area. After learning about your skills, experience, and goals, they can talk to you about any suitable work that is available.