After years of homework, projects, reports, exams, and the dreaded thesis, you’re finally done with school. You’ve rested up and had a few final adventures before striking out with the intention of joining the ranks of young professionals in the metro. If you think the hardships are over just because you graduated from college, you’re dead wrong. Life doesn’t start and end within the four corners of the classroom—and that’s a lesson us former fresh grads have learned the hard way.
Most of us have made mistakes, and we don’t want you to make them, too. So, we’ve put together a list of the common job hunting mistakes to avoid. Here are some of them:
1. Hop from job to job.
So many fresh grads nowadays can’t settle long enough in a job, and many have said it’s because of one of two (or both) things: (1) they easily get bored or (2) they want to experience different careers at one time.
Don’t be a “job hopper.” Stay and be loyal for at least a year or two, because if your prospective employer sees that you’ve worked for at least three different companies in only a year, they will think you won’t be able to commit to them either. And that could hurt your chances of getting the job of your dreams. Don’t have a job yet but want to experience what it’s like? Try entering an internship instead, even if it’s an informal one.
2. Send out generic resumes.
Your resume is the very first thing your prospective employer sees. You can’t charm them with your sweet smile or your presence—your writing will do it all for you. So spend some time to make your resume look good and sound good.
Here’s a quick tip: use action words. Those things make a world of difference. Also check out our stories on building a resume that will get your hired, as well as skills and even foreign languages you can learn to give you a one-up over other applicants.
3. Wing it during your job interviews.
So you got past the resume and now you’re up for an interview. Think it’s a breeze? Well, think again. They WILL ask the hard-hitting questions. What can you bring to the table? What’s your greatest weakness? Why should you be hired?
Prepare your answers and make sure they’re not generic ones. Research the company. Wear the right clothing and follow the basic power dressing rules. Stand tall and always smile. Want more tips? Check out these articles:
- 7 Tough Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
- 10 Tips for a Standout Job Interview
- Dress to Impress: 6 Tips for Picking Your Job Interview Outfit
4. Maintain unreasonably high expectations.
New graduates often focus too much on looking for the perfect job—not a first job. Especially in this economy, your first job should be about finding a position you can learn a great deal from. One thing you should take note of is the importance of paying your dues—and learning, always learning, along the way.
When it comes to the salary, so many fresh grads have expectations that are unrealistic too. Remember that you are a fresh grad and that you lack the experience, so don’t expect a six-digit salary right away.
5. Post immature rants online.
Social media will be the end of you, if you’re not cautious about how you use it. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, be very careful when sharing stuff online. You’re not a kid anymore, which means in your new world, immature rants and cursing are unacceptable. The things you’re going to say will make or break you, and the last thing you want to do is to create something that will stain your career.
Not sure what’s safe and what isn’t? Read our article, “5 Things You Should Never Share on Social Media (If You Want to Keep Your Job).”
6. Quit the moment the going gets tough.
Not getting any calls for the companies you applied for can be depressing, but don’t look at it as a negative thing. It’s simply a sign that you need to change things because it’s not working. As long as you have a good product (yourself) to offer, and as long as you can put it out there in front of many buyers, you’ll eventually make a sale. So don’t give up. Keep going. And once you do get a job, don’t balk at a little bit of stress. Remember, the first six months are when your boss and your company are testing you to see if you can sink or swim in that kind of career. Quitting = sinking. And it could hurt your chances when you start applying for other jobs.
7. Forget that you’re taking your first steps toward independence, or why it’s important that you be independent.
For fresh grads, it’s too easy to focus on landing a job and getting your finances in check that you let all of the awesome part of life after college pass you by. What’s even worse is that going from the top of the food chain (i.e., having your choice of table in the cafeteria because you were a senior) to the bottom of the chain (i.e., corporate slave) can put you in a real rut. If this happens to you, take a step back and breathe. Remember that it’s just part of life after college—and a short part of that.
On the other hand, it’s all too easy to let the fact that you’re finally earning your own money get to your head. Fresh grad spending is a dangerous thing! Remember that you are just starting out when it comes to earning money, and while having money of your own can be a thrill, make sure you are smart about your budgeting and savvy about necessary vs. unnecessary purchases. Sure, your parents can’t control what you spend your cash on anymore, but neither are they obliged to float you extra dough if you max out your credit card or come up short before pay day.
Once you enter the so-called “real world,” you have a few months to do whatever you want. Enjoy a vacation halfway around the world. Date a variety of guys. Learn to cook. It’s time for you to enjoy, because believe me, once work starts, you’ll only get one or two weeks of break throughout the year—and they most likely won’t be back to back. “Vacation” will become a precious commodity to be hoarded and only used wisely.
Remember when freshman year felt like having to make a million adjustments on the fly? Brace yourself for a similar experience on a bigger stage. Try to be more mature, don’t expect too much, and don’t give up too easily. And remember—this isn’t school anymore.
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Dyan is a 25-year-old writer with a sense of humor of a prepubescent male. On weekends, she hibernates.