Where should I apply? How do I find job openings? How do I make my resume stick out over the hundreds of others? What if I don’t get any offers? What if I don’t land the job of my dreams?
With so many hows and what ifs when it comes to applying for jobs after college, you’d think that we’d do everything within our power to set ourselves up for success. However, university students tend to make some big mistakes that make it pretty hard to kick off their careers.
There is no denying that job hunting is difficult. Steer clear of these mammoth career and job search mistakes and you’ll better your chances of getting hired after graduating:
Many students don’t bother building their network until after they’ve graduated, not realizing what a valuable tool it could have been for the job hunt. They search frantically and apply for jobs willy-nilly when they could have reached out to their contacts for help from the start. The truth is that students with a network are more likely to get hired than students who are without. That’s why you should take every opportunity to meet people within your industry of interest and keep their contact information on-hand for when you are ready to seek employment. Many jobs go unadvertised, as companies first put feelers out within their own network for recommendations before opening the door to random applications. Don’t forget that your network is not limited to industry professionals, but open to family and friends as well. Your great aunt’s best friend’s son may know of an opening that is perfect for you, so don’t be shy!
Not Using The University Career Center
Let me ask you something. If you are on the hunt for a post-graduation job, why WOULDN’T you use the resources available to you? The FREE resources, no less. The purpose of a university’s career center is quite literally to help students find and land jobs. Job searching can be really hard! Especially when you are trying to finish up your final semester at the same time. A career center can help you search for openings, teach you interview skills, mentor you, notify you of career fairs, revise your resume and cover letter and more. If you haven’t already, contact your school’s career center to see how they can help.
Waiting For The Dream Job
Hate to break it to you, but your first job will not be your dream job. Chances are your second and third jobs won’t be either. Millennials sometimes live in a fantasy world, thinking that they are entitled to hefty salaries, luxurious offices, and managerial roles straight out of university. Unfortunately for most, this is not realistic. New grads spend too much time looking for the perfect job. Setting the bar high for yourself and having big goals is great, but don’t let those dreams keep you from accepting a job that will teach you skills that you can’t learn in a classroom, and give you experience that will look great on your resume. Your first job will function as a vehicle toward your perfect job, and will likely come along much sooner than you think. Just remember, we all have to start somewhere!
While you shouldn’t wait around for your dream job, you also shouldn’t settle on a mediocre or bad job just because you’re anxious to be employed. We understand the need to make a living but you are allowed to be picky. Don’t take a job just for the paycheck, and don’t take a job that’s outside your field just because you’ve not received offers within… yet. The jobs you hold before you “make it big” are the ones that are going to function as your stepping stones. You will do some dirty work, you will pick up new skills, and you will begin to understand the inner workings of your industry. Never settle. Hold out for the jobs that will get you where you want to be.
Sending Generic Resumes and Cover Letters
You should always have an up-to-date resume and cover letter but you should never submit them without tailoring them to the job you are applying to. No job is created equal and your applications should reflect that. Show the hiring manager that you read and understood the job description by incorporating the keywords and skills that they are looking for. Remove any bullet points that are not relevant to the position (courses you took, part-time jobs you worked, and any space-filler proficiencies) and think about what you have to offer that would be useful to the company. You are essentially marketing yourself, so sell it!
Not Following Up
Like we always say, you are one of many people looking for a job. Sending in your resume and cover letter is simply not enough. After submitting, FOLLOW UP. Don’t expect your application to magically land at the top of pile. Wait a respectable 72 hours and then call to confirm receipt and to re-express your interest in the job. You must also follow up after an interview, with a thank you note.
Putting Off The Learnerships
Too many students think they can just wait another semester before working a learnership; that they have plenty of time and that if worse comes to worse, their grades will matter more. This is perhaps the biggest mistake of them all, because learnerships mean everything. Yes, your grades are important to a hiring manager, but your experience and skills truly mean more because that’s what will help you get the job done. There is no such thing as starting too early. We’d advise that you start looking into learnerships as early as high school, and if not, the summer after your freshman year.
Taking the time to work learnerships will make the job hunt easier, your network bigger, and your chances of getting hired greater!