Getting Your First Job + Tips


“All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.”– Calvin Coolidge

Looking, getting, and keeping a job is hard work and can be tiring. I have struggled so much to look for a decent job that fits my schedule and my personality. I get bored easily though. I need to be moving around and doing different things even if its something simple like sorting out merchandise. At the moment I’m working at a small grocery store. Its a decent job. Its small to the point where you get to really know your customer. This is a good and a bad thing. I personally suck at making conversation with customers. There will be times where the conversation I have with them is the basic “how was your day” conversation. The most logical job for me would be a backstage type of job. One where I wont have to interact much with the customers. However, I’m glad that I got the opportunity to work in a scene that working at a grocery provides because it has taught me how to interact with different people.

(update: as of 12/2016 I am no longer working in a grocery store)

I’m in no way a professional adviser but I will share some tips that I personally think will help you while looking for a job:

1.) Find a job that fits your personality. 

Yes, I know that most of us have jobs that may not be ideal for ourselves but are necessary. However, I feel that we should at least try to find a job where we won’t entirely hate it. If you’re a social person, easy going, and like to make peoples day, I would suggest that you find a job where you’re interacting more personally with the customer. You can work as a cashier or in customer service. You will need some patience for that since there are people that can be really difficult.

If you’re a more relaxed person that doesn’t really want to interact much with the customer in person, I would suggest finding a job in a Coffee Shop, Drive-Thru, or in an office place calling clients. Although you still do have to interact with people, you wouldn’t be doing it face to face. I communicate better over the phone or by email but in person I can’t keep a conversation going. 

Now if  you’re the kind of person that doesn’t really care about what job you get then go ahead and apply to any that you think you might get a call back. There’s nothing wrong with applying to as many jobs as you can. However, when you’re applying to all those jobs, you should press the pause button and really think “do I really want to work here?”

When I first started looking for a job I did the exact same thing; I applied to any places that had a “NOW HIRING” sign. I didnt think about what job I would eventually be working. I just wanted to have a job and buy my own things. This was a bad idea. I got called in the next day to work at Burger King and they wanted me to start that next monday. I said Yes! I mean why not? they wanted me ASAP and it would have taken a while to hear back from the others. Working at Burger King was HORRIBLE! I hated it so much. They didn’t even properly train me or didn’t tell me how much I would be getting paid. They left me in the dark. This brings me to my second point.

2.) Get well informed.

Like I was saying, Burger King was hell. It was mostly my fault. I didn’t have a clue what part time, full time, or overtime meant. I didn’t know how scheduling worked, how to quit a job, how many breaks or lunches I had to legally have, or what calling in meant. But thanks to Burger King I learned by trial and error.

Here are some information that would have helped me before applying to a job. Some of the following information may not be correct. Its different for every state and differs in personal opinion.

Part-time & Full-time.

From the people that I have talked to, Part-time is ≤25 hours a week. Full-time ≥30 hours a week. Like I said, I could be wrong so make sure to do your own research. If you’re at school or have important extra curricular activities, I would suggest you apply for a part-time job. There’s some people who can balance a full time job with other activities. It all depends on what you feel comfortable with. 

Overtime happens when you work more than 40 hours. If you worked 45 hours that one week then you did 5 hours of overtime. Now the way you would get paid  would be half of what your hourly pay rate is + your regular hourly rate. So if you get paid $7.75 per hour, half of that is around $3.90. Which makes your overtime pay to $11.65 ($7.75 + $3.90)per hour instead of the $7.75 you would get paid regularly. That means you would get a total of $58.25 dollars for the five overtime hours you did. Now the total for the complete 45 hours is $368.25. Remember that they do take out taxes so it wont be exactly $368.25 when the paycheck comes out.

Scheduling: Working holidays, weekends, off seasons?

Before you even start filling out those applications you need to sit down and work out a work schedule around your life.  You have to prioritize school, hobbies, social life etc. Either work your work schedule around your other duties or work your personal schedule around your job.

If you’re someone who needs weekends or just Sunday’s off, you should look for jobs that offer those specific days. This could include office jobs, Chicken-Fil-A (offer Sunday’s off for everyone), car agencies, phone services (T-Mobile, AT&T, etc), and banks.

For those who go to school and will have to change schedules often; it’s alright, you’ll be  able to change your schedule to fit your school schedule. I would’t do it every month otherwise that will annoy your manager and make him/her mad. Most of my co-workers at the local grocery that I worked in were students. Every time there was an upcoming school  break like winter break, spring break, summer break, etc, my manager would round them up and have them fill a new schedule for that intended break. After the break was over, the student workers would go back to working their usual schedule. I think this is a great idea and more managers should do this. 

Resume & Cover Sheet. Do you need them?

Most jobs require you to fill an online application now a days. These online applications require you to upload a resume and sometimes a cover sheet. I had to upload a resume to work at Burger King. They didn’t really care much for it but I uploaded it anyways. If you don’t know how to build a resume you should get with your school counselor or teacher and have them help you. 

It’s perfectly okay if you don’t have any work experience. If you do community service then make sure to add this to your resume as it can be very helpful. If you’ve taken special classes at school like health practicum, cosmetology, business, etc, those will boost up your resume. It will show your potential employer that you might have some professional knowledge in a potential work setting.

I’ve done about a total of two cover sheets so my cover sheet knowledge is not the best. A cover sheet just serves as a introductory summary of your skills, experience. You state why you would be a good fit for the job and what you can offer them. Don’t simply  list down items from your resume, that’s not what a cover sheet needs. Just a brief summary will do. Resumes and cover sheet templates can be found online, word document, google document, as well as other  places. You can always make your own! 

Lunch breaks. Regular breaks. Dress code?

Breaks! THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW.  You NEED to do your  research and find out how many legal breaks you should have according to your state. Usually you get a 30 minute lunch break  for up to 6 hours. If you’re only working about 3-5 hours than you might get a 15 minute break at least. If you’re working more than 6 hours you should get a 30 minute lunch break and a 15 minute break (sometimes even two 15 minute breaks). At burger king I would work more than eight hours and only get a 30 minute lunch break. Sometimes I wasn’t able to take my lunch break because we were too busy and way under staffed. It really sucked. The grocery store that I recently  worked made sure that everyone took they’re breaks. If I worked a 7-8 hour shift then I got two 15 minute breaks and one 30 minute lunch break. If I worked 5-6 hour shift then I got a 30 minute lunch break. If I worked anything less than 5 hours, I only got a 15 minute break. Nonetheless, I was still able to go on work breaks and that was enough unlike at Burger King. 

Work dress code, this is another important topic you need to know. Ask you’re potential manager or staff what the dress code is in the place you’re applying. Make sure to ask about winter dress code. You need to know if the jacket, sweater, or coat you want to wear is allowed in your work place. Ask about the types of shoes and if there’s any alternatives? Are you allowed to wear rain work boots for those rainy days? What color socks do you need? What type of pants will you have to buy? Do they have to be ankle length pants or can you wear knee high pants or capris? 

Calling in & last minute day off. Paid time off?

It is very important for you to know the right way to call in or to ask for a last minute day off. If you’re feeling completely sick and don’t know if you’ll be able to properly work then you should call at least 3 hours ahead of time. Calling ahead of time will give your shift manager enough time to make the proper arrangements to call someone to take your place. Please do this, you don’t want to cause even more trouble for your managers, supervisors, and co-workers. Otherwise they will all be angry at you and you wont hear the last of it the next day at work. 

If a last minute emergency comes up or you’re running late and your shift is about to start in the next hour or so, you should still call and let your shift manager know. They might still have enough time to call for someone else to replace your shift. Don’t ever just not show up it only reflects badly on you and will make your managers second guess whether you can get that next day off or even a promotion. Instead, ALWAYS be on time. I always like to get to any appointments I have 15 minutes early. 

I don’t know much about paid time off since I never had it. I think it might only be for older people or those that might have years working in the industry. Not sure. You might want to talk to your potential manager and discus about getting paid time off. 

Promotions. Getting a raise? Quitting?

I didn’t stay long at the grocery store to slither my way into a promotion. One thing is for sure, don’t expect to get a promotion from only working a few months. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen but its just not highly likely to happen. Here is a very interesting article from Forbes about a couple mistakes employees make in asking for a promotion: Forbes Promotion Mistakes. If you’re brave enough, you might want to ask your potential manger how promotions work for him/her. 

A pay raise…never had one. Again, it’s mostly because I haven’t stayed in the same job for long. Before leaving Burger King, my manager did try to bribe me with a pay raise but I had enough of the that bad environment and a 15 cent pay raise wouldn’t have changed my mind. While working at my local grocery store, a couple of my co-workers would mention that everyone is up for a pay raise every year. It didn’t happen for me or any other of my hard working co-workers. I’m still not well informed in how many times we should be able to ask for a raise or when we should ask for it. I think the whole getting a raise every year was a lie I heard from some of my co-workers. I was never brave enough to ask my manager about it because I didn’t want to be too forward about it but perhaps I should have asked during my interview. Here’s an article that talks about ways to know when to ask for a raise: 8 Signs For A Raise.

If you don’t already know, you should at least give a 2 week notice before quitting your job. Your last two weeks take effect after you have properly given your two weeks notice to your manager and not before. In this two week notice you should state the reason for quitting and if you plan on returning any time in the future. You specifically need to state the last day that you will be working at your job. 

Giving a two weeks notice is not only a professional way to quit but it also reflects well on your character. The two weeks notice will also make it most likely for your manager to want to give you a job again or talk well about you when you put him/her in your work reference. Don’t ever just stop going to work. You need to at least properly call them and let them know you plan on not coming back. Your manager might still want you to give a two week notice it is then up to you to say no or give the two weeks notice. 

3.) Prepare for the interview.

Now that you know what you’re getting into, you need to be ready for the call back that will inform you whether you’re moving on to the interview or not. The call back might be made from the person in charge of new hires or the assistant manager. 

Before you go into the interview (which might be done by the assistant manager or the manager him/herself), you need to be well prepared for the questions they might ask. 

First of all, you need to dress the part. Make you your hair is neat and well groomed, put on a clean good outfit. Don’t over do it. You don’t want to go in to a Burger King interview wearing a suit or a fancy dress, that’s a little too much. Don’t go in wearing a graphic t-shirt with some baggy or skinny jeans. That is not a proper attire to wear at a job interview. Sure you can wear some jeans, just make sure they’re nice and properly matched with a blouse or bottom up shirt. 

Now for the real interview. What is most likely to happen is that your potential manager will look through your job application and your resume again in front of you. He will ask you about your job experience and if you don’t have any then you simply talk about your community service or any other experiences you may have had that will help you in the job position your looking for. The manager might ask how much you want to be paid, what you might have been paid in your other jobs, reason you quit your recent job, how many hours you want to work, if you can work weekends and holidays, what your skills are (time management, team worker, leader etc) as well as other information that might not apply to the job your applying for. 

After the job interview the manager might tell you that you will hear a call back to see if you were hired or not. He/She might hire you right then and there. If he does what might happen next is that you will have to set up a date to come in and do a drug test. Once that is all done the person performing the drug test will tell you whether your all cleared or not and have to speak to the manger once again. The manager will then talk to you and give you the information you need to start your training.


Well, that’s about all the information I got for y’all! Remember, I’m in no way a professional and  you should do your own research. Everything that is on here is from my own experience. 

~XoXo, Mayra


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