The Top 9 Mistakes New College Graduates Make When Searching for a Job

There is no getting around it—the current job market is a tough one. Even with a college degree, a prime candidate can have a hard time finding work. New college graduates are facing a gritty beginning to their working careers but there are a few major mistakes to avoid that can help them score a good first gig.

1. Avoiding the Customized Resume

Many new graduates on the search for a first job are so in tune with what they would like to take from a job that they forget they need to sell themselves in order to get it. By creating a resume that provides a detailed portrait at what specific traits and skills a graduate offers instead of just listing school courses and extracurricular activities, employers will be more likely to look twice at the candidate and consider him or her more seriously.

2. Expecting Too Much Too Soon

After working hard for 4 years to obtain a degree, the last thing new graduates want to do is start working hard all over again. Setting expectations too high for a first job is a big mistake many graduates make and end up disappointed when they don’t get their dream job right away. Instead of expecting to fall into a cushy, high-paid job right away, grads should focus their energy on obtaining a job from which they can learn important skills that will help mold their careers.

3. Lacking Persistence

A huge mistake many new graduates make is not being proactive enough on the job hunt. The competition is fierce and new candidates have to be on the prowl ten-fold. Setting goals each day and following up on interviews and applications can get a job quicker than relaxing and being shy.

4. Failing to Utilize Network Opportunities

Utilizing a college’s career and development office can provide a great step forward for any new college graduate. From resume building to business and personal networks, a college’s career center can be a great place to start a job search, before or after graduating. Likewise, not spreading the word around of your job hunt to friends, family or neighbors can hinder your search. Using these networking resources is great because the relationships are already forged and getting a recommendation from a personal resource can give you a big step up from the rest of the pack.

5. Not Following Up

An easy way to get ahead of the massive pile of applicants is to follow up your job applications and interviews with phone calls or emails. Upon submitting your resume and cover letter, call or email the recipient to ensure that it was received; a few days to a week after interviewing, follow up the meeting with a phone call to “check in.” That persistence stands out positively against a sea of applicants.

6. Relying on Internet Job Resources

The Internet is a great tool to use when searching for a job, but when thousands of applicants are also applying for those jobs, going the extra mile to form personal relationships with your prospective employers can go a long way. Many job search experts agree that networking personally can make a great difference in finding jobs.

7. Appearing Unprofessional in an Interview

Even if the position you are interviewing for is an unpaid internship, adhering to appropriate interview standards is good practice. Dressing appropriately, acting in a professional manner and, above all, knowing the company you are interviewing for are paramount when finding a job, whether “dream job” material or not.

8. Disengaging from the Internet as a Networking Resource

Just because grads shouldn’t over-indulge when utilizing the Internet to find work doesn’t mean it is a bad resource to use. The Internet is a fantastic tool for finding work, but MySpace, Twitter and Facebook aren’t ideal sites to utilize. Job boards, large and small, are efficient and informative paths through which to find work, but networking on them is important.

9. Retaining Unprofessional Mannerisms

College graduates are entering an entirely new phase in their lives. It is important to accept the lifestyle changes that follow. Adopting a more professional and adult voice mail, clearing Facebook and social networking sites of unprofessional pictures and content, and even creating pages strictly for professional use is advised.

New college grads have it hard enough but avoiding these mistakes can help cut down the job search process.