Are you graduating this year? You’re going to be facing a tough job market, as you know, but on the plus side, you’re among the age group most likely to be hired in coming months.
According to Andy Chan, vice president of career development at Wake Forest University, "Organizations are very interested in hiring young people because they have a lot of energy and are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Remember that expectation. But no matter how well-positioned you are, you’ll have a better chance of success if you avoid these common job hunting mistakes:
- Not Being Proactive Enough This isn't the time to sit back and be casual or lazy, assuming that the right job will fall into your lap. Instead, create a list of five to 10 target companies, then analyze and work your network to find an 'in' at each.
- Not Spreading the Word When you're looking for work, you need to let everyone know. Tell family members, friends, professors and former coworkers.
- Not Networking in Person In a recent poll, 57 percent of respondents said networking was a factor in landing their current or most recent job. When thousands of candidates are applying to the same jobs online and posting their resume to the same job boards, candidates need to stand out by making connections. Job boards are a good tool, but new grads also need real-life networking.
- Not Creating Customized Resumes Don't send out a resume that just lists your courses, your degree and your job experience. Think about what you can offer an employer -- such as that energy and can-do attitude mentioned above -- as opposed to what you want to get from one. Think of your resume as a marketing tool: sell yourself, and show the employer why you are the right person for this job.
- Not Using the Right Internet Sites New grads are all about social media, but of course LinkedIn is not as fun or exciting as Facebook or Twitter. However, LinkedIn is your best resource for getting names and building a professional identity.
- Not Following Up It's not enough to send resumes and wait to be contacted. Don’t expect your resume to be discovered in the bottomless pit of the Internet or the employer’s inbox. Keep track of where you’ve applied, and when, and follow up on a regular basis.
- Not Cleaning Up Your Act Make sure you're ready for employers' scrutiny and “sanitize” your online profile if need be. Check your Facebook page for inappropriate pictures, tags and posts and change the voicemail greeting on your cell phone or answering machine if it’s off-color or otherwise immature. In other words, start acting like a professional, not a college student, both in real life and online.
- Not Taking the Job Interview Seriously Even when you're applying for an unpaid internship, you need to adhere to common standards of professionalism: dress appropriately and prove that you’ve researched the company by asking intelligent questions when it’s your turn.
- Not Using the College's Career Office "A career office can help [students] identify networking contacts, learn important job search skills, and significantly improve their resume and cover letter," says Wake Forest University's Chan. Just remember the career office's job is to prepare you for your job search, not to conduct it for you.
- Not Doing Your Homework Use those research skills you perfected in college: when applying for a position, go beyond the job description to find out more about the company. If you can glean any beyond-the-basics knowledge of the job and the company, you’ll be better able to communicate specific ways you can contribute to that organization.