Zareen Wajid, Talent Acquisition Specialist
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Searching for a new job is downright nerve-wracking, especially if you are a new college graduate. You always hear those horror stories of how it took so-and-so 14 months to land a job or how most-likely-to-succeed forfeited a job offer because he wanted something “better” only to eventually accept a minimum wage job to pay the piling bills. Well oftentimes, it’s not what you are not doing that’s hurting your job prospective, but rather, what you are doing. Take a look at the most common job search mistakes:
- Not having a results-focused resume. More often than not, resumes tend to list duties and responsibilities. That’s great, but a little pointless. Through this type of a resume, Recruiters and Hiring Managers know what you are supposed to be doing, but perhaps, not what you actually do or know or have accomplished. Remember, your resume should portray your achievements and process improvements, not serve as a job description.
- Relying on the internet. The internet, despite being the omniscient being we all turn to in times of need, has not made it easier to search for jobs. Don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise. For entry-level positions, companies typically receive 100s of applications for a single job posting. What are your chances of moving to the interview stage? Unless you are willing to network and make connections, your chances are slim to none.
- Not networking. Networking is the most repeated word in the art of job searching, and also the most important. Meet with people, learn about them, tell them about you and your goals, and continuously build the relationship. Start off networking with your family, friends, career services advisors, church members, professors etc. You never know who knows who, so reach out to everyone. You are more likely to stand out and land a job by networking effectively than by clicking the Submit button on every online application you fill out.
- Not creating a personal brand. What exactly are you looking for? If you answer this question with “a job”… smh. No Duh! Really do your research and think about what type of job you are looking for. What industry? What specialty? What location? What company? If you don’t know what you want, how do you expect your network to know? Also, note that job seekers who don’t have a personal brand typically don’t have a distinguishable resume. And without a resume that stands out, you aren’t going to get that far ahead in the recruitment process. And let’s not forget the power of a well-kept LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites to assist in your personal branding. Put yourself out there through a well thought-out marketing strategy.
- Lack of interview preparation. Prior to an interview, you should go over the company’s website and define its mission, vision, and values. You should read and re-read the job description. You should know who you are interviewing with. As Benjamin Franklin says, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Do your research so that you are confident during the interview and can display your best to the hiring committee.
- Waiting for a “dream” job. You can’t know what your dream job is until you are there. It’s quite unfortunate I know. As this is the case, don’t be so closed-minded in your job search. If you get an offer for a job that’s #8 on your list, don’t be afraid to accept it. I say this because a) you never know where this job may take you, b) experience is more beneficial than no experience c) the job is #8- it’s on your list!
- Indifference. In today’s day and age, we are taught to do what we do best, regardless of the haters (and I paraphrase). What we aren’t taught is the fine line that exists in that philosophy. Yes, do what you do, but only as long as it shows integrity. Don’t post drunken and/or inappropriate pictures of yourself on your personal Facebook. Don’t post negative comments (with curse words) on public accounts, other people’s statuses, articles, chocolate chip cookies recipes etc. Don’t talk bad about people. Don’t show up to interviews reeking of cigarette smoke. There is nothing wrong with caring. It’s actually preferable to the indifference attitude you think companies are looking for. FYI: In actuality, companies are looking for passionate and compassionate individuals who will make their company look good.
- Disrespecting someone’s time. Okay, so you are in panic because you don’t have a job. You are doing everything is your power to make something happen…to make anything happen, but nothing is happening. What do you do? You send the same awkward, frustrated email to five different people within each and every company you applied to. You try to network over coffee, but only end up complaining about the difficulty of landing a job. You fill up a professional’s voicemail inbox with your calls about your application status. Just stop. Respect other people’s time. Whether they are helping you or not, it is not exactly their problem that you are frustrated with your job search. Especially try to avoid reaching out to your prospective company for constant updates- if they want to interview you, they will contact you. Give them some space to do their job. Also, this should be a no-brainer, but don’t be late to interviews and don’t answer your phone during interviews/meets & greets/networking events.
If you have committed any of the above-mentioned mistakes, it’s okay. It happens. As you move forward, refrain from making these all-too-common mistakes. Create a strategically results-focused resume, personal marketing brand, and job search plan. Indulge yourself in networking and develop your listening skills. Prepare for your network meet-ups and interviews in advance. Don’t be afraid to take risk and try new job avenues. Be respectful and have integrity. And of course, just do what you do best.