8 Job Hunting Mistakes Made by Recent College Grads (Part 2)

Wait, what were we talking about? Oh, yeah, job hunting mistakes. We started this conversation with the first four in part one. Notice I’m skirting around the typical—bad grammar in your cover letter or not sending a thank you note—that stuff is table stakes. Read on for my final four.

1: Failing to coach professional references.

The professionals who will stand up for you are more than the bottom three lines of your resume. Beyond the typical vouching for your character and strengths, they can make a better case if they know a little about the job you’re in the running for. Coach your references! Send them a few sentences that describe the job and a bit about the organization. Your references will then be able to sharpen their comments, tailoring your background to a specific job opening.

2: Revealing too much information.

Your questions reveal and perception is reality. When you ask too early about a higher salary or opportunities for advancement, the hiring manager may worry that you won’t be satisfied with the job. (Those questions are best during a second interview, or after an offer.) Avoid being memorable in the wrong way.

3: Revealing too little information.

The opposite can happen too. You panic when the questions point to your lack of professional experience. Go in prepared to align specifics from your summer, internship, or volunteer work to the duties of the position. In an informational interview, a recent college grad once told me she had no experience working on the web. I pushed, hoping she’d talk about her involvement in campus organizations. She didn’t, so I asked if she ever set up a WordPress site, organized an online community, or used social media to promote events. Of course, she had done all three but didn’t connected the dots between that experience and the skills required for a communications job.

4: Expecting the first job to be perfect.

At the risk of sounding old, so few jobs are perfect. Your priority has to be getting some experience to pair with your strong educational background (and getting out of your parents’ basement). Redefine perfection: maybe the salary is high enough you can eat out for lunch on Fridays or maybe the team you’ll work with is about to start an interesting project. Going for the job that’s perfect for you at this moment is enough for this moment.

Bonus: I’ve interviewed hundreds. Here’s a whopper of a mistake and it’s not made only by the new college grad: not having questions during an interview. When an applicant has no questions (or struggles to come up with one on the spot), it’s a warning sign for me. I wonder if you are genuinely interested, if you typically make such important decisions with so little information, or if you prepared for the interview.

Use comments on this post to add your own wisdom. Let’s make it a point to help out early career individuals. Cheers!

This post appeared originally on Start Smart Career Center, a virtual mentoring network that helps women navigate their nonprofit careers and thrive as leaders in the workplace.

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Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

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