The job search process may seem very straightforward, first – you look for job online, next you submit your resume. Done.
However, there is so much more to the process than this. Consider that you are not the only one applying for a position, you can potentially be competing with hundreds or thousands of applicants for a single position. To remain competitive, avoid these job search mistakes that students make:
1) Not Customizing Your Application Materials to the Position
Customizing your resume or cover letter is time consuming, and not doing so may cost you your dream job. Every job has specific duties and responsibilities, and if you see your current resume doesn’t highlight a trait a position really values, make sure to edit it so that your skill set matches the qualifications the position features. For example, if the job you are interested in values leadership, make sure that the leadership experience you have in your current position is listed at the top of your experiences. Also, if relevant, add any student organizations you may be involved in with a short description to show how your involvement in this organization is relevant to the position.
2) Not Proofreading Application Materials
Proofreading your application materials goes a long way. But, because you are too familiar with your resume or cover letter, ask a friend or peer to proofread your materials. Have them to look out for any misspellings or grammar issues, and ask them if the overall flow of your writing makes sense. It’s better to have someone you trust catch your mistakes before a potential employer does.
3) Not Being Patient with the Job Search Process
Searching for a job and actually getting to a final offer can take significant time to materialize. If you have applied for a position or recently had an interview, it is okay to follow up, but do not go overboard with constantly writing or calling an employer for a status update. Remember that they also have full-time jobs and possibly have several candidates they are considering. Be patient or the impression you will make on a potential employer will not be a good one.
4) Being Unprepared for the Interview
You have successfully submitted your application materials and now you have an interview coming up. Many students make the mistake of thinking that they can just “wing it” during the interview. Don’t make this mistake. Before the interview, take the time to learn about the company you’re interviewing with and also to self-reflect on how the experiences listed on your resume relate to the position you’re interviewing for. Make it a point to have something to say about every position you have listed on your resume; you never know when an employer will ask you about something on your resume that you may have forgotten about. Finally, remember practicing the actual interview scenario with someone. The Career Connections Center offers its Express Drop In service, where students can come in for mock interview without an appointment.
5) Applying to Unrealistic Positions
Students are encouraged to reach for the stars and apply to jobs they may be slightly underqualified for on paper. It is understandable that as emerging professionals, students will want to prove their worth and land a job that may be slightly out of their reach. However, you have to self-reflect and assess if you genuinely have the skill set and experience for the position. If you have only had one year of internship experience and you only apply to jobs that require 3-5 years of professional experience, your chances of getting an interview may be slim. It takes time to build experience, start by applying to positions that you are qualified for, gain industry insight and knowledge, and you’ll soon be on your way to applying for those dream jobs with the experience you’ve built.
6) Not Researching Industry Salaries
Students should know how much they’re worth to be able to ask for or negotiate an appropriate starting salary. When doing salary research, use salary calculators to help you determine what’s appropriate to expect while also considering your living expenses. Take into account the years of experience you have and the skills you have learned in your college career. Remember that your skill set will not be comparable to someone who has been working in the industry for five years, so be sure to have reasonable expectations in terms of salary. If you are unsure how to start the salary research process, the center holds a few salary negotiation workshops throughout the year. Check out or events on our website or Facebook page to stay up-to-date.
Do you have any more questions about how to avoid job search mistakes? Make a career planning appointment today!