Set Goals When Searching for Your First Job

By Roberto Angulo

It can take months or even over a year to find your first job, depending on what you’re looking for. Setting goals helps people complete a certain task or challenge faster than they would if they didn’t have any milestones at all.

Here are some ways to use goals in order to find your first job faster:

  • Set an overall goal. By when do you want to have a job? This could be a month from now or next year. Whatever your date, set a stake in the ground and make a goal for yourself to motivate yourself to start looking.
  • Create small milestones. A distant goal always looks achievable, but as it approaches, you may find yourself struggling to meet your own deadline. Create small goals for yourself on when you want to write your résumé and when you want to apply for your first job.

If you miss your own internal deadlines, it’s okay. The point is to put a stake in the ground and take steps forward, instead of lingering and never moving.

Have realistic expectations

The time and effort it takes to find your first job is often directly correlated to the quality of the employer. In other words, if you’re applying for a job at a well-known employer like Google or Facebook, expect to have a lot of competition and expect the process to take longer. Employers with a well-known consumer brand attract a lot of job seekers. As a result, they can take their time in choosing whom they hire.

On the other hand, if you find a job you like at an employer that is not well known, then you should have less competition and an easier time getting in the door.

Be aware that if you apply to a popular employer, you may have to work harder and wait longer than if you apply to a less popular organization.

Start early and to put in the hard work to get the job you want, regardless of the employer’s popularity.

Create a timeline

To get an idea of how long it may take you to get your first job, create a simple timeline and keep it the back of your mind as a reminder. This table illustrates the steps involved in the job search process and gives estimates of how long each step may take.

Figuring Out How Long It Will Take You to Find Your First Job
Step Time Expected
Job search Four to five weeks. More if you don’t find anything you like.
Interviews Two to three weeks. It depends if they happen all at once or if you spread them out over time.
Hear back One to two weeks to get a response from the recruiter. You may hear back sooner or unfortunately not at all in some cases.
Job offer One week. When you hear that you’re getting an offer, it may take up to a week to get it in writing.
Offer acceptance Up to one week. When you get a written offer, the employer will ask you to respond as soon as you can. You may be given a few days or a week at most.

The time it takes to get a job depends on whether you’re looking for a part-time job, an internship, or a full-time role.

Searching for the right first job could take you up to three months. This is just one scenario. In theory, you could also walk into the restaurant around the corner, apply for a job as a server, and get the job on the spot if the employer needs someone badly and you have the relevant experience or a great personality.

On the other hand, if you’re still trying to figure out what to do, you could spend months searching without knowing what you’re looking for. Some job seekers have spent up to 18 months looking for their first jobs.