The 7 Deadly Job Search Sins of Recent College Grads

7 Deadly Job Search SinsWith spring upon us, a slew of college graduates will soon enter into the Hunger Games… I mean… the modern job market. And one thing is for sure, what happens in this arena is not what you expected.

Everyone knows that circling ads in the newspaper with a sharpie is an obsolete strategy. But there are many other job search sins, just as antiquated as that Sunday morning ritual, still being committed by recent college graduates.

Here are the the top seven sins most grads will commit during their job search:

1. Relying Solely on the Internet

Sure, we live in the Social Age. But the internet is just one place to find work!

Many recent grads fail to leverage non-digital resources such as meet-ups, industry and trade associations, and local business events and organizations (such as the Chamber of Commerce).

Even more sadly, students still in college rarely reach out to their alumni network, a goldmine of mentorship. And, according to Forbes, only 29% of students use their college’s career office as a job searching resource.

This is a shame as career offices are great places to talk to major-specific career advisors (most all colleges will offer career resources for a specific major), receive one-on-one help to craft a resume, cover letter and prepare for an interview and get answers to questions students didn’t even know they should ask. (Do the terms Applicant Tracking Systems and resume keywords mean anything to you? Stay tuned.)

2. Misusing the Internet

It’s hard to remember, but hiring managers are searching for you too!

Millions of dollars go into recruitment services for businesses and over 85% of companies rely on social media and talent networks (LinkedIn and Monster) to cast wide nets and efficiently source and attract prime candidates (Forbes).

But the road is a two-way street: their efforts won’t reach you if you don’t make it easy for them to find you. Dusting off your online profile (or creating one) is the best and easiest solution.

An active online profile with a strong and professional “social footprint” (online personality) advertises for you 24/7 and eliminates possibility for miscommunication and ultimately, missed opportunities.

3. Not Customizing Your Resume

Remember those terms Applicant Tracking Systems and resume keywords mentioned earlier?

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) is a computer software designed to filter and track the best applicants based on how compatible their resume is to the original job description. It does this by using a resume parser to extract resume keywords (relevant skills and qualifications) from the resume itself. The more resume keywords the ATS can extract, the more qualified that resume is measured.

The best way to determine which words in a job description are resume keywords (words that should be included in your resume to help it rank higher in the ATS) is to take advantage of online resume tools such as Jobscan.

Jobscan directly compares your resume to the desired job description and rates how compatible it will be measured in an ATS. It will also tell you what the resume words are and how they should be formatted (for example, you may already have Microsoft PPT on your resume but if the job description calls for Microsoft PowerPoint, it will not be recognized by the ATS).

4. Using the Wrong Resume Format

Going right along with customizing your resume, there are three resume formats and selecting the right one will best highlight your career arc and strengths as an employee.

  • Chronological: best highlights job titles (hard skills) and a steady employment history, rather than skills. Best for those who plan on staying in the same field(s) because it highlights consistency and overall progression.
  • Functional: opposite of a chronological format: emphasizes skills and achievements, rather than job titles and places of employment. Best for those with gaps in their career (i.e., veterans and stay-at-home moms) or those who wish to highlight specific skills, knowledge or abilities from a wide variety of different or unrelated employment.
  • Hybrid/Combination: the best of a chronological and functional resume format: allows job-seeker to showcase specific skills/achievements but can still provide what employers are looking for: solid employment history. Best for those who want to highlight transferrable skills from a wide range of (un-relevant) jobs and when relevant work is only contract, freelance or temporary.

When you only have an average of six seconds to impress a hiring recruiter, it’s not just about what you say, but also how you say it.

5. Failing to Follow Up

Two weeks is the average time to follow up a resume after first submitting it and not hearing back for an interview.

  • Research the best person to email/call so the follow-up is (politely) asking for attention and answers.
  • Keep it short and to the point (You are following up for this position, which you applied for on this date and wondering if there’s any extra steps you can take to help further the hiring process)
  • Check your spam email (it may have gotten lost in there)
  • ALWAYS follow directions in the job description: if it says no follow-up calls or emails, all you can do is resist and wait.

The minute you get home is the length of time you should follow up an interview.

  • Keep it short (a paragraph max)
  • Mention something memorable from the interview (Ex: an interesting part of the position you are excited to learn more about)
  • Address it to the hiring manager

6. Not Willing to Pay Dues

In the words of comic genius Louis C.K. about 20-years-olds and jobs: “Every 20-year-old that I encounter behind the counter gives me that [look like], ‘This job sucks.’ Yeah, that’s why we gave it to you!”

Pay your dues and show that you are willing to learn about and from the company. One of the most valuable qualifications you can bring to a job is the ability to listen.

Yes, the job market is extremely competitive but college graduates who are too eager to establish themselves can actually come off to potential employers as someone who isn’t willing to learn and abide to company rules.

7. Failing to Craft a Brand for Yourself

What sets you apart from other candidates? Towards the end of the hiring process, it’s all about splitting hairs: the handful of prime candidates they’ve narrowed their search down to are similar in qualifications and skills but it’s your job to show them why you’re different.

Looking for patterns is a great way to create your brand, to make you distinctive:

Look through your work history | Any patterns in the type of businesses and environments you’ve gravitated towards (i.e., fast-paced and large vs. small, family-owned and local). Every company is different and companies want to know you have an understanding of what is expected in a certain type of environment.

Application of skills | Which skills do you find you have needed to apply most frequently in former jobs? Have they matured? Which skills do you get praised most on? (i.e., strong multitasking skills? Sunny personality?) Remember: these skills should always be relevant to the job. When in doubt look back to the job description!

Having a good sense of what kind of employee you are will help you answer those tough questions like “Tell me about yourself” and “Why should we hire you?”

Let your competition make these seven deadly sins… because, well, now you know better!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at JobScan Blog!





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