Common Mistakes of the (First-Time) Job-Seeker

Common mistakes of the first-time job-seekers

Common mistakes of the first-time job-seekers

Spring Break is upon us! In two-weeks time, as the students of the nation’s colleges and universities are making their annual trek towards warmer climes for the sun-filled get-away, for seniors, graduation day and the looming job search are seemingly way off in the distance.  Not so fast though!  For a senior, this pilgrimage south is a real reminder that graduation is a matter of weeks away now and the inevitable, looming job search encapsulating every minute of thought throughout the day!

Let’s first say that while many of the soon-to-be-grads have begun a comprehensive job search, many also, still have not, and there’s no better reminder to do so than the act of receiving one’s diploma and then going back ‘home…’  Whether or not you have begun your search, and whether or not it’s been a fully exhaustive one or just scratching the surface, it’s now just becoming time to actually have to do it for real!

On a positive note, keep in mind that there are a lot inherent benefits that first-time job-seekers bring to the interviewing table; they tend to be eager and enthusiastic, supplanted with much technologically know-how and savvy, constantly up-to-date on the latest trends in their desired field and this makes for a potentially valuable addition to an organization.  Just need to ‘sell’ it!
Yet while having much to offer, there is still a lot that new job seekers have to learn when it comes to mastering the ‘art’ of the job search.  Below are a few mistakes that I have witnessed over the years many first-time job seekers make and how these errors can be avoided in your search:

Not having a positive on-line presence – Employers will be making a concerted effort in finding out ‘who you are?’  They will be looking through various forms of social media to see if what you’re presenting is true and consistent?  The will also be looking for anything that might be deemed a red-flag for your candidacy.  Make sure your social avenues of communication & presentation are ‘sanitized’ for the general public to be viewing.

Not being aware of your finances and credit history – Many employers today are conducting credit checks on potential candidates.  Assuming that a responsible user of credit and finance makes for a responsible candidate, this is almost to be expected in today’s job search.  Whether or not this is deemed fair, this is a new reality in the search process and one of the ways that an employer may be vetting your viability as an addition to their organization.  Credit Karma (I have no affiliation other than being a user of such) is a great resource that is free to use and a good way to check, monitor and keep tabs on all your credit usage and understand your score.

Putting too much weight on your GPA – This is a common mistake and something I’ve seen many students do in the past; believing that high academics is the only/most important factor in finding a job.  Employers are looking for people, and well-rounded at that.  New job-seekers need leadership qualities and the ability to articulate, communicate and convey information and integrate into a team.  Remember it is not always the highest draft pick that makes for the star player.

Not doing enough research – Many times, job seekers don’t realize the importance in conducting effective research.  Looking at an organization’s website is great, but assuming the next candidate did so AND spent some time networking and chatting with current and previous employees? Suppose they also spent much time researching competitors and clients.  How much of an advantage would this person then have?

Not staying up-to-date on industry trends – Graduates should do research not only on the organization to which they are applying, but about the field in general. Know the trends and movement within the industry.  Understand their clients and competitors.  Look at general trends in the marketplace not to mention any political trends or decisions that are coming that may affect this organization.

Focusing only on jobs related to their degree – new job seekers often think they can only work in a field directly related to their major and will then only apply to jobs in one specific industry.  To ‘define’ oneself by the parameters of their major is a very limiting way to go about your job search. Your major is what you are interested in learning more about, and it allows for much cross-pollination of skills and knowledge to look at many other types of career paths.

Forgetting who the interview is about – Job seekers who spend ‘face-time,’ and with that I mean your application materials and interview, talking about themselves, why they need a job, how much they want some organizational benefit, etc. instead of talking about how they will integrate, solve problems for the organization and bring added-value are ensuring they will not be asked back for further consideration.  The interview is about the employer first and how you fit into the picture that they perceive.  As a candidate, it is ‘your job’ to feed into what they are looking for and understanding what that is to mean.

Only considering full-time opportunities – Sometimes the way into an organization is though the side-door and this may not be in a full-time arrangement.  First-time job seekers tend to devalue the benefits of short term, part-time or internship opportunities, which if secured, can be of incredible value by giving that job seeker work experience in various tasks and a then proven, tangible track-record in the work force.

Dressing inappropriately – Often, first-time job seekers have not been exposed to work appropriate attire and what that can mean.  For this reason, make sure you are dressed ‘professionally’ when networking and interviewing. If you aren’t sure what is appropriate, do a little digging and some homework on such?  Figure out what the expectations are to be and dress, for the interview anyway, one notch above.  Worst case scenario, stand outside the organization and watch people come and go to get a sense of what’s appropriate.

Being unenthusiastic – Enthusiasm is critical to being considered for any position.  Show enthusiasm and knowledge about the position and organization, not only through your conversation, but through your questions about the organization and your interest in the position. Quality candidates ask ‘good’ questions!

Focusing too much on salary – New grads & young professionals often fail to look at the big picture when deciding whether or not to take a position and instead focus too much on the salary being offered.  Many times the benefits and/or perks can out be of much value when comparing jobs.  Flex-time, family time, tele-commuting, retirement options, salary matching, vacation, sick and personal time and many others – all benefits to be considered when measuring the overall package.

Knowingly taking the wrong job – Granted, times are indeed hard, and it’s not always wise or even plausible to hold out for the ‘perfect’ job.  However, walking into a position that is knowingly not a good match or if you get that sinking feeling, you may be wise to pass.  When in doubt, discuss with a mentor or someone you really trust before making these significant decisions.


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