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How To Look Out For Yourself When Applying To Your First Job

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Kya aapke job application mein experience kam hain? Are you struggling to secure internships and jobs? Are there aspects you do not understand regarding applying for a job? It’s okay! I see you and I hear you. 

When it comes to applying to one’s first internship or a job, we all have nerves to deal with—one gets stuck with the tricky situation of needing to have a perfect job application, even though one has no experience… With jobs or applications. 

The first job is an important step towards one’s future, professional success and must be taken seriously. Your first job is the right place to experiment, explore, make new connections, and learn new things.

mere ko to aisa dhak dhak Blank Template - Imgflip
It’s natural to be nervous before applying to your first job/internship. Representational Image. Credit:

Therefore it’s of the utmost importance that one does not slip on a metaphorical banana peel during the very first step. 

But, the onus is not just on us to get better. The job industry itself is lacking in so many ways. From unequal stipends and hidden clauses in contracts, to having expectations of you which were not clearly spelled out in the job description.

How does one expect a young person to not feel lost? Well, I believe that we can navigate the situation at hand if we think about the following things.

When You Need Job Ex To Get Your First Job

One of the most frustrating aspects of applying to your first job/internship is that while you are seeking your first experience, they want someone with prior experience. I have encountered this so many times.

 Let me tell you about the time I saw an ad about hiring new writers. It read: “We welcome young adults with a penchant for writing.” Cut to the next paragraph telling you that you must have a work experience of two years. Naturally, I didn’t apply. 

Representational image. Credit:

But, this gap between the hirer and the hiree, is what prevents either of them from getting what they want.

The former loses out on a potential employee who needs the space to prove themselves. The latter avoids applying because they believe that they don’t have a major requirement, even though they have the required skill set.

To tackle this, I try to include all that I would otherwise think is unimportant. Consider personal hobbies, extracurricular interests, volunteering, part-time work, and all the knowledge acquired during one’s education.

You can include skills you think an employer could use, such as research and planning, proficiency in computer applications etc.

Yes, Some Money Would Be Nice… Thank You! 

While today internships and fellowships do help in providing “invaluable experience”, many do not pay those involved in them.

There is a rising curiosity regarding why organisations are asking young people to work for 6-8 hours a day, only to not compensate them in return. If you do come across the mythical unicorn that is a paid opportunity, the competition is steep.

They generally list stipends in the range of ₹1,000-₹5,000/month. This means that they get to pay you based on their evaluation of your effort. Whether it’s fair or not, we can’t expect a neat compromise here.

There is the odd employer who provides you some room to negotiate. But, how exactly does one do that without any prior experience?

How To Negotiate Your First Salary

If you have a strong reason to believe you deserve more than what is being offered, don’t hesitate to ask for it. But, ensure you are well-prepared when you sit down to negotiate.

Make them account for the time you will spend working and the time you will have to spend travelling to work (if at all). Make them aware of your skill-set, competence and all that you bring to the table.

Not being able to justify yourself could provide a strong reason to your employer to withdraw the offer. See that you base your arguments on solid facts rather than any kind of sophistry or sentimentalism.

Representational Image. Credit: Pixabay

Find out the average salary for your position by consulting an online database, or approaching your college placement cell/school’s career counsellor.

You can also try to reach out to others who are working in the field to see how much they are being paid. This should give you a good idea of what to ask for. Secondly, try and ascertain the challenges that your hiring manager faces, and how you can help them solve those issues.

You might have skills to offer that other employees do not have. Apart from this, you can show that you are capable enough to take up other responsibilities if need be. These are some strategies to make your case for a higher salary stronger. 

Alternatively, you can try to negotiate for a lesser number of working hours based on the salary/stipend the potential employer is offering you.

Warding Off Weird Questions

Various instances have been noted with regards to interviewers asking questions, which have no place in the context of the job. While most such questions are faced by all interviewees, there are certain questions which appear to be reserved for women.

These include questions like: “Are you married? Do you plan to have children? How do you plan to balance work and family?”  

Many a woman has wondered why her personal life becomes the subject of scrutiny in a professional setting. Representational image. Photo credit: PixaHive.

Apart from such targeted questions, researches have also shown that women are asked certain questions to prove their worth. According to an American, binaried survey of 2,000 respondents, there are 12 questions women get asked more than men. Some of them include;

Nearly half (45%) of all women were asked the question, “Why should we hire you?”, compared to just 37% of men. The women who were surveyed were asked to describe where they see themselves in five years more than the men who were surveyed.

Blue indicates men and orange indicates women. Credit:

Interestingly, the two questions men were asked the least were, “What is your greatest weakness?” (27% men compared to 37% women); and…

Blue indicates men and orange indicates women. Credit:

“Describe a time when you failed and how you handled it,” (20% men compared to 26% women).

Blue indicates men and orange indicates women. Credit:

Rachel Ritlop, a career and business coach, says that oftentimes answering a question with a question is the easiest way to subtly remind your interviewer that their question is not okay.

“If someone feels uncomfortable, they should advocate for themselves, and redirect the conversation by saying things like, ‘Before I answer, how would that information help you in the hiring process?’” said Ritlop.

It’s a good idea to rehearse thwarting off intrusive questions with a friend or a family member in a safe space first, so that one feels more confident to assert themselves in an interview setting later.

Rejection Does NOT Define You 

A recurring ordeal that you might face will be rejection. Applying and then also securing a job on the first try can be difficult. The same can be said for the second and third tries.

However, it’s important that one is mindful about not letting insecurity overwhelm them from within.

Remember to always follow up on a rejection and ask for feedback. Learning what you could have done better can help you. See what you can improve on and fine-tune those aspects, before turning in your next application. 

Representational image. Photo credit:

Work on yourself and pick up new skills and traits as and when possible. The job market IS a brutal place. One, because there are people who might be as good at something as you are. Two, because at any point, another person may have more to offer than you do.

Therefore, as cliche as it might sound, adding to your arsenal positively affects your chances. 

The job/internship industry won’t change in a day. Hopefully, it will transform for the better, bit by bit. Until then, we can try to adapt at our own pace and learn to navigate it as first-timers. 

Featured image is for representational purposes only. Photo credit: UTV Motion Pictures.

Note: The author is part of the Sept-Oct ’21 batch of the Writer’s Training Program

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