How quickly the a graduate edges out the rest to land his or her dream job depends on various factors, but it is important to realize that beyond college grades, a graduate can influence how quickly he or she is employed. We’ve compiled nine errors graduates make when trying to land that first job so that you can skip the recruitment “teething” phase and get a good bite on your first real job.
1. Being Uncertain About Job-Search Goals: Avoid communicating career doubts to potential employers. Keep in mind that an employer is recruiting for the ideal candidate, so confessing your preference for another position could immediately end the interview. This behavior suggests a lack of commitment or dedication, so avoid sabotaging your chances. If your potential employer is prepared to invest in your career development, the company will need some assurance that you are passionate about the position and will be committed to the company.
2. Missing Opportunities to Gain Experience: Not surprisingly, the labor market is becoming increasingly competitive as interest in every field of study continues to grow. With this in mind, you can offset some of the competition by searching for work experience from an early stage. Your degree is a basic credential for an entry-level position, but employers usually demand more.
Be proactive and start your job search before the start of final exams, but refrain from limiting your choices to only large companies. Search also for medium and small companies, where you may be entrusted with more job responsibilities.
Aside from job placements and internships, consider doing volunteer work to develop basic job skills like teamwork and leadership qualities. Become a member of at least two clubs and partake in activities throughout your university life. In this way you meet new people, network, learn new things and have fun. What’s more, you can draw on these experiences in interviews
3. Failing to Update Your Resume and Customize Your Cover Letter: On average, recruiters pore over hundreds of resumes a day searching for the most appropriate fit for vacancies. Generic resumes and cover letters usually fail to attract the attention of recruiters. Your cover letter and resume are your first sales pitch and an example of your work quality, so tailor them to the specific job or employer you’re contacting.
* Establish the top needs of the employer by examining the duties and job requirements in the job listing.
* Demonstrate how your experiences, strengths and achievements are applicable. It may help to write a brief summary as your resume introduction.
* Restructure your resume to convey key information in a concise manner that can be digested in a quick 30-second scan.
* Always have at least one other person proofread your revised resume before submitting it.
* Always address the cover letter to the right person. If no contact is provided, feel free to call the company for the name, address and correct salutation.
4. Don’t believe your job search is completely dependent on your resume and cover letter: Wrong. In a perfect world, your resume is more of a formality than a necessity. If someone already knows you or has received an excellent recommendation of you, they are more focused on getting to know you in the interview rather than picking through the details of your resume.
A bad resume is definitely getting cut, but a great resume does not guarantee you the job.
Let’s be honest, I don’t care how many cool internships you’ve had or what your GPA is: many employers feel that an entry-level candidate is an entry-level candidate. In large companies you may have to meet a certain GPA or major requirement, but much past that, it’s all about you.
Your personal brand is what lands you a job. Not your resume. Your personal brand should match online, offline, in your personality and in your appearance. The way you write your LinkedIn profile, what you say online, and who you meet in person are a few important aspects of a job seekers personal brand.
5. Neglecting to Prepare for an Interview: Employers are least impressed by unprepared candidates who come off more like tourists than job seekers. This behavior demonstrates a lack of initiative. Why cheat yourself out of the opportunity to have an optimal interview experience or the possibility of being referred for another company or department vacancy?
A strong candidate will have insight about the company, the industry, its competitors and current affairs. Do the research and practice; it’s all about your preparation. Identify what employers are looking for and consider how your skills and experiences apply. Prepare to answer typical questions like, “What do you know about our company?” and “What can you do for us?”
Show your passion for the industry and your interest in the company by getting your hands on the company’s annual report and speaking to people in the industry. Employers are always impressed if you use appropriate jargon and can comfortably discuss current issues related to the company.
6. Passing Up the Opportunity to Ask Questions: At the close of an interview, most candidates pass up the opportunity to ask questions. This is a grand opportunity – use it! This is your chance to pose intelligent questions about the corporate culture, corporate goals, challenges and career-development opportunities (but refrain from asking about salary at this stage). Asking questions like these will also help you determine whether the company is a good fit for you. An interviewee who is ready with smart questions demonstrates sophistication, confidence, leadership qualities and initiative.
Think about several questions beforehand related to the responsibilities and challenges of the job. The more senior the role, the more complicated the questions should be. Take advantage of this opportunity and you could outshine other prospects.
7. Not Pursuing the Job Until You Receive an Offer: So you’ve completed the grueling interview process and made it through a day at an assessment center. If you’ve come this far, why drop the ball now? Most graduates tend to assume that the decision at this stage is out of their hands, but you should aim to keep the ball in the air until an offer is proposed.
After the interview, it is polite to send a thank-you letter to each interviewer, with reference to one or more things that were discussed. Follow up regularly with the company to indicate your continued interest and keep windows of opportunity open. Don’t be a nuisance, but consider that if you fail to show enthusiasm, the more polite and persistent candidate could land your job.
8. The Internet is the only tool you have used to aid your job search: Career expert claim that 80% of open positions are not posted online. They also claim that the vast majority of job seekers rely solely on the Internet to find a new job. To turn this idea into simple math, this means that roughly 80% of the people are going for 20% of the jobs. Not only are those online jobs way more competitive, they are most likely more generic than those you’d find offline. So what does this mean for you? It means that if you’re smart, you’d be playing in the offline field where you’d be one of the 20% looking at 80% of the jobs.
If you’re willing to go against the crowd, get a little uncomfortable and stop hiding behind your computer screen, I think you’ll have a much shorter job search than most. Getting offline means:
• Pick up the phone.
• Pick it up again after no one calls you back.
• Deal with people who may not want to talk to you.
• Ask for recommendations and introductions.
• Go to a lot of coffee meetings and informational interviews.
• Make a list of companies you’d like to work for then use online tools to see who is connected to those companies. Once you connect with them, take the relationship offline.
• Stop judging your progress by the number of online job applications you sent into a random company where you know no one. Instead, monitor your progress based on how many meetings you set up.
• Set up meetings with all of your favorite professors. Chat, listen and get career advice. Maybe they will introduce you to some great people too.
• Go to a lot of events whether they are networking events, Greek life events, campus speakers, or parties
• Ask everyone you meet a lot of questions about themselves and what they do. People love talking about themselves. The more you talk about them, the more they like you and want to help you.
• You’ll also learn a lot of things about a lot of industries by talking to people. Regardless of if their industries are similar to yours, having these discussions will broaden your perspective and conversations when you start interviewing.
• Don’t say “I need a job” when you are engaging in these offline activities. Rather, ask them about their job.
• Talk to people at the bar, at Cubs games, and on the treadmill
• Tap into your Greek system or alumni network
• Disarm people you meet by asking, “What would you do if you were in my shoes?”
Job searching is like dating. If you’re looking to date with the intention of finding a partner, you can use online tools to meet people, but after that it has to be taken offline to lead to something more. If you’re in the dating game, you don’t just sit in your apartment hoping someone will magically ring the doorbell and appear (or at least I hope not). Dating is a process of meeting people, getting to know people, getting rejected, finding out what you want and don’t want, and getting yourself out there. Apply the same strategies here.
9. You believe networking yields instant results: Successful networking doesn’t start 2 months before graduation. If you’ve missed the boat on this one, be prepared to spend some time building relationships.
This is going to be a process. It’s going to take time. Be patient. I know it sucks that you can’t tell all of your annoying relatives and “Type A” friends that you aren’t sure what you’re doing after graduation, but you need to ride the wave.
The recruitment process may seem fairly intimidating and complex for the average graduate, but as with taking an exam in school, the recipe for success is to practice and prepare. Each application and interview is an opportunity to improve your game. Knowing these job-search errors and solutions could help you eliminate some of the competition and land your dream job faster.