This job market is unforgiving. For the college senior who is job hunting now, there’s no margin for error. Here are five common mistakes made by college seniors. Knowing these will help you advise and guide your students to a more direct path to a successful job search.
1. Overusing the Internet – Students in this digital age think if they only apply to enough jobs online then someone will eventually want to hire them. But it’s actually quite difficult to obtain a job on the Internet due to the high volume of resumes submitted. The number one method to obtain a job is by networking. Still apply for the jobs online, but also find ways to network into the company so that you can ask to be introduced to the hiring manager. Your persistence and creativity to get in the door will make a difference.
2. Being Too Choosy –Many students get so focused on a specific job or organization that they don’t realize there are other roles and other types of organizations that might be really good opportunities for them. Check out anything that looks interesting, as there could be a diamond underneath. Of course, don’t take a job you know you’ll hate. And remember that a first job is just that: a first job. You’ll be somewhere quite different in 5-10 years… ask anyone who is 5-10 years older than you.
3. Giving Up Too Early – Some students think that given the poor job market, it’s not worth the time to search for a job. This means that these less competition! And many organizations are now recruiting students this spring and through the summer. Our career office has more job postings and interviews going on now than last year. Our biggest problem right now is getting students to pay attention to these opportunities and apply for these jobs. Just like doing regular exercise – once you stop searching, it’s hard to get started again.
4. Mis-using the Grad School Option – For some people, grad school is a great option, but if you’re just doing it as a back up because you can’t find a job, it’s a very expensive back up. Grad school does not necessarily increase your job prospects – and the pressure can be even greater if you took on loans or don’t like your area of study and the types of opportunities it provides. Grad school can be intense, so it’s challenging to make time to “find yourself” or having time for self-reflection and job search. If you’re unsure, understand what the typical career paths are for graduates of the program you are considering and see if they appeal to you. If you’re under pressure, it’s best to take the time to get the information you need and make a well-considered decision.
5. Not using the college’s career office – Students don’t realize that their career office can help them develop a job search action plan, identify networking contacts, learn important job search skills, and significantly improve their resume and cover letter. It’s amazing how out of every 10 resumes, only one or two are very good, but 8 out of 10 are terrible. Even if you had a poor experience with the office before, it may have new staff and services and most importantly, you’re in a new situation. What do you have to lose?