Sometimes having the right answers, a good resume, and good business dress simply will not be enough to land your dream job and advance your career after college. There are many small mistakes that recent college graduates are making in the job market that seriously impede career progress and the probability of becoming hired. Read on to learn how to avoid these slip-ups!
One of the biggest problems recent college graduates have is that networking is key to building a successful career. Being a full-time student is a lot of work, but personal connections with people in the field you are interested in are just as important as a good resume. Networking does not have to be an intense interview situation with people- many are simply brief, informal conversations. But making those connections are key to building the start to a good career. Average job hunters today network with over 25 different decision makers (someone with hiring authority) when looking to be hired by a professional in that field. However, this also means networking with an average of 14 people just to get the chance to talk to one decision maker! So the average job hunter needs to talk with a minimum of 350 people just to have a chance at starting a solid professional network! When you are just entering the job market from college, networking can be an intimidating but crucial ingredient to success. Learn networking tips from the Career Center here to help you advance your professional network after graduation.
Networking is helpful not only to provide professional contacts, but also to give you inside information on jobs that are not online or have not announced openings yet. Applying only for jobs online can severely limit career options. Searching for a job means not just posting your resume online and waiting for offers to come in, but actually being proactive and seeking potential employers. Job boards and online employment sites can be helpful, but usually see thousands of candidates applying for the same job, with no real way to stand out and make a connection to the company. In today's job market, a word of mouth tip that a company may be opening up a position is better than a posted job position with hundreds of other applicants. Don't be afraid to contact companies you would like to work for, even if there is no posted job opening online. Showing initiative and personal contact can open up doors that you could never find online.
However, by far the biggest mistake that recent college graduates can make when beginning their career is to have a lack of job focus. As an applicant, you need to portray that you know exactly what you want to do, and that you are fiercely passionate about it. If you do not have a true interest or passion in the job you are pursuing, employers can immediately sense this and dismiss you as a viable candidate. Rather than a vague goal, be specific in your career plans and know what you want your career to look like in 10 years. Don't limit your options, but employers can immediately tell when all you want is a paying job- communicate the value that you see in each potential employment opportunity.
Related to a lack of job focus is the fact that many college graduates do not job search with a plan. This job search plan helps job seekers be proactive rather than reactive- people often forget that searching for a job is a full-time job in itself, and you need to put in the effort. A job search plan can be as simple as writing a list of prospective employers and setting personal goals. Learn how to set up a job search plan here. And make sure to follow up with everyone that you send a resume to. Send an email, make a phone call, but most importantly make sure to follow up with the person you contacted!
Lastly, make sure that you do not have too high of expectations. There is a balance that recent graduates must make between knowing what they want and not focusing too much on the perfect job. You need experience first, so apply for jobs you know will advance your career so you can show your enthusiasm while still being consistent with your career plan. Learn more about other job hunting mistakes here and here.