6 Things That Prove You’re Ready for the Job (Even if You Think You’re Not)

6 Things That Prove You’re Ready for the Job (Even if You Think You’re Not)

6 ways to know if you’re ready for your first full time job.


You’ve graduated college. You’ve put in time at two, maybe three internships. What’s next? As an integral part of today’s newest generation of job seekers, it can seem overwhelming to put yourself out there and take your first steps toward a real job.

Though it can be tough to know whether you’re ready to take the leap, here are a few telltale signs to make the decision easier. 

1. You Own Your Experience
If you’ve held an internship, part-time job, co-op or even undertaken coursework relevant to your chosen field, you’re already headed in the right direction toward gainful employment. When an employer knows that you’ve acquired relevant skills and experience, they’ll know you’re more prepared to take on a full-time job in which you can properly perform and contribute, explains Jill Tipograph, career coach and co-founder of Early Stage Careers.

“It’s essential today,” Tipograph says of gaining relevant experience prior to seeking a full-time job. “The vast majority of companies will not hire students unless they’ve had internships. As the number of internships increases, there’s a greater likelihood the employer will hire you.”

2. You’ve Found Your Passion
Do you get a thrill out of crunching numbers and filing tax documents? Are you a strict grammarian who dreams of becoming a magazine editor? Follow those passions right into your first real job. It benefits both you and your future employer to be in a job that you’re simultaneously good at and passionate about.

For Madison Chandler, a senior airman who works in aviation resource management for the Ohio Air National Guard, knowing that her father and two uncles served in the military made her decision to join that much easier. “It was definitely a passion,” she says. “I was excited to serve my country and be a part of my family history.”

3. You’re Ready to Settle In
A full-time job takes a lot of commitment. When you know you’re in a position in your life to buckle down and focus on your career, it could be a good time to dive into the working world.

Isvari Mohan, an associate at the law firm Sidley Austin LLP, says she knew she wasn’t ready to start her career or stick with anything long term immediately after graduating college. After finishing law school and gaining useful experience, though, Mohan was more willing and able to settle into a full-time position. “Go for the job when you think you’re in a position in your life to spend at least 45 to 50 hours a week doing one thing,” she says. 

4. You’ve Grown Your Network
Let’s face it – a lot of first jobs are based largely on who you know. If you’ve taken the time to network and connect with people in your chosen field and even alumni from your college or university, you already have a wide net to cast when it comes time to seek out your first job. “Eighty percent of the jobs today are gotten in some way through networking,” Tipograph says. “It is critically important to build your network as early as possible.”

Once you’ve identified a potential employment opportunity, Tipograph recommends figuring out who you’re connected to or who you know at the company to learn more. Often, Tipograph says, finding a young alumnus from your alma mater can help you make the right connections. 

5. You Have a Solid Support System
Work takes up a good portion of your waking hours, which doesn’t leave much time for a fulfilling social life. Having a close circle of friends and family to lean on can make the transition to full-time employment that much easier. Mohan believes this is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to starting your career.

Creating solid relationships can be difficult as you work to make your mark on your chosen industry, Mohan says. “That takes time and energy you don’t have during the first two to three years of work,” she explains, though her supportive family and strong group of friends have made it much easier for her to focus on her job. 

6. You’re Prepared to Pay Your Dues
While everyone has to prove themselves when they take on a new position, new job seekers have a little more work to do. Mohan believes her generation often has to work 10 times harder than their older counterparts to show that they’re up to the task at hand. “There’s a lot of assumptions about what we’re qualified to do,” she says, but proving she has patience, maturity and confidence has gone a long way.

Chandler says it can be intimidating working alongside an older generation of seasoned employees who have decades of additional experience. “It was definitely overwhelming because I was so young and working with different age groups,” she says of taking on her new job. “I spent time learning to respect everyone and learning people’s different communication styles, and understanding how people come from different life experiences.”

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