How can I get my first office job?

I’m a 20-something woman in NYC looking to change/start a career.  My work history is retail and cooking in restaurants. I’m an ENFP. I’m interested in an office job so that I have more opportunities for success.  So far, I’m interested in office manager job descriptions (which is the closest thing to entry level I’ve seen).  Is there something more entry level than that that I can try applying for?  Do you have advice for how to get an entry level job in an office? I feel even though I don’t have experience in an office, my cooking and retail skills do translate.  And since I’m a 90s kid, I’m perfectly tech literate.  How can I best convey that on my resume/cover letter and in an interview?

Posted in Getting a Job
10 comments on “How can I get my first office job?
  1. Penelope Trunk says:

    The best way to get an entry level job is to make yourself look not entry level. You need to look like you have experience and you have a track record for doing well at work. Otherwise you’re too big a risk. A lot of this comes down to knowing how to write a resume. All experience translates to doing well in a job, but there is a language of resumes that is important to use – quantified results, authoritative titles, etc.

    If you go on my blog there is a lot of free information there on how to write a resume. Look in the topic areas job hunt and resumes. Both those will be helpful to you. A lot of people think that at the beginning of their career the rules of a resume don’t apply because their career is so new. But the rules always apply, and you can get creative to make them work for you.

    I taught a webinar titled Get Your Dream Job Now that I think would be very helpful to you. Also, Make Your 20s Count. Those two webinars are targeted at people who are asking the questions you’re asking.

    The most important thing to remember is that your resume can tell a million different stories about you – so work hard at telling the story that makes you look not entrylevel and then you’ll get an entry level job.

    Good luck!
    Penelope

  2. Emma says:

    Sign up with Office Team (or similar service) as temp. They will give you tests to assess your skills in Word and Excel and your typing speed. You will likely have very boring, extremely entry-level admin jobs at first, but you can put all of those jobs on your resume without mentioning Office Team. I’ve been an office manager for over 10 years now and this is how I built my resume to start, and how I’ve found a job almost every time I’ve moved.

  3. Becky Castle Miller says:

    You might consider building some work experience as a part time virtual assistant or personal assistant at first. You could work as a contractor for several different clients. My husband just hired a business school university student as a personal assistant. He was willing to take a risk on her, knowing he’d have to train her, because she didn’t cost very much per hour and seemed bright enough to pick up the new skills. You might be able to find someone in a position like that to hire you for a few months, which would improve your resume.

    • Becky Castle Miller says:

      Also, are you sure you’ll be content/happy in an office job? The ENFPs I know have not enjoyed office jobs.

      • Rachel G says:

        I was just going to say this. If you are an ENFP, don’t get an office job! Look into other kinds of professional jobs where you don’t sit at a desk! Your personality will help you get these jobs, too. You might consider a short training course in something that sounds interesting.

  4. Rayne of Terror says:

    What about a temp service to get experience in an office? My sister has a degree in chemistry and bounced around a bit in retail and student life jobs. She began temping for a PR firm (scheduling travel for bean company’s spokes pet) and now (12 years later) she’s a VP at a national PR firm.

  5. Ellen chamberlin says:

    I’m an ENFP and if I were in my 20s I would NOT ever choose work in an office. My job is dead end though (secretary). Penelope, can you do a blog post or course on making your 40’s count? This blog is so excellent but definitely geared toward younger people…or a post on things to do to change course would be good for everyone who’s approaching 40 and not where they want to be.

    • stacey says:

      You’ve obviously never worked retail or cooked at restaurants. If you really think that jobs like that which pay minimum wage, have no benefits and treat you like shit are better than your cushy office job, you’re delusional

  6. fritzd says:

    You might start a home office

  7. Ellen says:

    Like most people, I have worked retail and in a restaurant (not delusional) I would do that full time if it paid as well as my office job. I am finally at an office job I can stand because it’s extremely busy and I work with mostly men. Since there are so many cushy (well paying but super boring and otherwise horrible) office jobs, it’s a matter of finding one that doesn’t make you feel like you’re going to cry/go insane. It only took me 15 years to find one.