Graduation season is upon us! If you’re donning your cap and gown this spring, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a new grad will be getting hired after graduation. In the coming months, thousands of your newly-graduated peers will be rushing to employers with their freshly-printed resumes and brand new suits trying to win them over with their potential. A tsunami of young talent will flood the job market, making it extremely hard for you to stand out.
That’s right. It’s going to be every grad for him or herself out there, so you need to be on your game. Don’t let these simple mistakes sabotage your chances of getting hired after graduation….
Mistake #1: Not having a targeted strategy.
Job search has changed drastically over the last decade. Many tried-and-true strategies are obsolete now and can actually hold you back from getting a job. Whether you’re still spending all of your time applying to jobs online, starting your cover letters with “To Whom May Concern,” or still listing references on your resume, you desperately need to switch up your strategy. Take this quiz
to determine where you are in your career and get a free customized career plan
based on your results!
Mistake #2: Not having a clear direction.
According to career and life coach Jenn DeWall
, recent grads can be so desperate for a job that they don’t think about the things they would actually enjoy
doing in their jobs.
If you’re having trouble determining what direction you want to go in after graduation, DeWall suggests creating a list of things you want to get exposure to or experience in within your field. Then, breaking that list down into different categories such as management, communication, and so on. This will help you focus your job search and find work that’s relevant to your needs.
“Don't just apply for a job because it's a job,” says DeWall. “It wastes time and energy and can hurt your confidence if you don't get an interview (even though you didn't want it to begin with).”
Mistake #3: Not having a mentor or a coach.
The truth is, no one taught us how to find a job. Although we were handed a mixed bag of career advice from family and friends throughout the years, most of that advice is contradictory, outdated, or not relevant to your situation. That’s why it’s important to find a mentor or a coach to help guide you through the process.
“Even though you don't have the job yet,” says DeWall, “don't hesitate to reach out to people to find a mentor. Mentors can give us great feedback and encouragement that helps us succeed in our careers.”
Establish a professional relationship with someone in your field of study and ask him or her to be your mentor. Then, try to connect at least once a month. Lucky for you, people love to give advice. Not sure how to find (and ask for) a mentorship? Read this article to learn how to find a mentor.
They can not only give you some words of wisdom, but they can also celebrate your wins with you!
Mistake #4: Not making networking a priority.
If you’re not networking, your job search is not working.
Having a strong network can actually accelerate your job search, help you stand out, and expose you to opportunities you might not have stumbled upon otherwise. According to JobVite’s 2014 Job Seeker Survey
, 40% of job seekers found their “favorite or best” job through their network.
“Networking can be intimidating," says DeWall, "but look at it as a practice round. By networking, you not only build connections but you also practice talking about yourself to others, which can build confidence in interviews.”
The contacts you make can open up new opportunities that you probably wouldn't find in an online job search, DeWall adds. So, it’s a smart strategy that allows you to circumvent the traditional hiring process and stand out.
Mistake #5: Not doing your prep work.
You might have all of the confidence in the world, but the truth is, if you don’t prepare well during the job search process, you’re going to look lazy, disrespectful, and even entitled.
Although your school days are over, it doesn’t mean you don’t have any more homework to do. Make sure you research the companies to which you’re applying. That way, you can really understand what they’re about, how you can fill a need in those companies, and whether or not they’re a good fit for you.
Moreover, doing your research will show employers that you’re taking the opportunity seriously, which will make them take YOU seriously. When an employer asks you, “What do you know about us?” You don’t want to be caught off guard and say, “I don’t know. I was hoping you’d tell me!” It’s really not a good look.
Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume
, recommends preparing at least five questions to ask each interviewer that reflect you’ve done your prep work. Here are some questions you could ask during a job interview.via GIPHY
Mistake #6: Ignoring your e-brand.
The Internet is an amazing, magical place where you can get real-time news updates from around the globe, keep in touch with long lost friends through photos, and catch up on your daily quota of cat videos. With a simple Google search, you can find just about anything you want… and so can recruiters.
According to a social recruiting study
, 93% of employers will review a candidate’s social profile (i.e. their online brand) before making a hiring decision. Why is this a big deal for you? Because 70% of recruiters have turned down a candidate based on what they found online. Yikes.
“Avoid posting comments or status updates that bash your colleagues, professors or a recruiter or are filled with f-bombs and other four-letter words,” says Augustine. “Those posts have a way of being found. No employer wants to hire someone with anger management issues.”
Make an effort to clean up your online brand by creating a LinkedIn profile, building a personal website, blogging on other websites, and so on. Also, think twice before posting those "hilarious" photos from last weekend’s party. Just be aware that some things might come back to bite you when you’re looking for a job.
“Think twice before hitting the send button on every status update, tweet, and email,” warns Augustine. “Once it’s published, it’s there forever – whether or not you delete it.”
Mistake #7: Not thinking about salary.
"One of the biggest mistakes people can make is going into job interviews without a strategy to talk about money,” says millennial career coach Ashley Stahl
Before you apply for a job, you need to research what’s competitive in terms of salary for that role in that industry. That way, you’ll have a range to go off of in case they ask you for a number on an application, during a phone screen, or during an in-person interview. You can use sites like Payscale.com, Salary.com, and Glassdoor.com to find this information.
But don’t be the first one to bring up money, warns Stahl. “The first person who gives away a number ALWAYS loses,” she says.
Instead, turn it back on the employer. If you don’t have a range to work off of, what do you say when they force you to give them a number? Stahl recommended saying something like, 'I’m negotiable depending on the range you’re offering. My first priority is finding the right fit.'"
Mistake #8: Being too lax.
“Millennials are notorious for being too relaxed during the interview process,” says Augustine. “Even if the organization seems casual, that doesn’t mean you have permission to act unprofessional.”
Always proofread emails, resumes, cover letters, and any other written communications you send to employers (remember, Augustine warns, spellcheck can’t tell the difference between “hire” and “higher”). Make sure you offer a solid handshake (no one likes being on the receiving end of the “dead fish” handshake) and avoid slouching during the interview. Also, make sure you’re dressed to go to a job interview. Even if the company is super casual and employees wear shorts and flip flops to work every day, it doesn’t mean you should show up to your interview in shorts and flip flops.
If you’re donning your cap and gown this spring, don't sabotage your chances of getting hired by making these mistakes. Good luck, almost recent grad! May the odds be ever in your favor…
Need help with your post-grad job search? Take our quiz and get your FREE customized career plan now!This article was written by Ariella Coombs
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