Searching for a job can be exhausting, exciting and confusing all rolled into one big ball of stress. It is a long road from deciding your major to completing your coursework to finally figuring out where you fit into the big, bad “real world.” However, once you find that perfect job opportunity, do not jeopardize it by making these five big mistakes.

1) Using a standard resume

Resumes are tough to write, especially if you are light on experience. Do not allow yourself to be screened out before you have the chance to interview. How do you ensure your resume is a perfect fit for a job? Customize it. Let’s say you graduated with a degree in hospitality – there are so many industries that this major can fit into, which might mean you are applying for an event planner position or a hospital service line coordinator. Two totally different jobs. Think about what is important for each of these roles and what the job description highlights. Your relevant experience needs to be at top of your resume. This is time consuming, but will open the doors to the interview process.

2) Not coming prepared

All that hard work to customize your resume will go unnoticed if you come to the interview unprepared. Always have printed copies of your resume with you.  Make sure it is the correct, customized resume. Hiring directors try to prepare for interviews, but on occasion they may not have time or may just want to ensure you have come prepared. Other preparations include researching the company and keeping up to date with the industry’s current events. Applying for that hospital job? It would be a huge advantage to know a little about the challenges the hospital is facing right now, especially with Obamacare in the headlines.

3) Not being forthcoming about your experience

It is not uncommon for recent graduates to not have job-specific experience. That is why they are called “entry-level” positions. You still will be asked about your experience. Nine times out of ten, you will probably have applicable experience through volunteer work, campus organizations or course work. When you do not have applicable experience, it is tempting to invent something or discuss irrelevant past experiences. A hiring manager can typically see through this. Instead, own up by saying “I do not have specific experience that applies here, but I do have the skill set to succeed.” Elaborate on what skills are needed to match that expectation, which is just as impressive.

4) Not asking thoughtful questions

If you do not ask questions, it is a big red flag that says, “I am not interested!” At the same time, though, it is just as important to ask the right questions. Stay away from salary and benefits; ask more about what makes a person successful in this role. How are you evaluated? What does onboarding look like? Where is the greatest impact made? These questions signify that you want to be successful, and intend to be thoughtful while doing it.

5) Not verbalizing that you want the job

It is a never-ending guessing game for hiring managers. Who actually wants this job and who just wants a job? As you leave, make a lasting impression by telling them that you enjoyed meeting them and that you can see yourself as a part of the team. Make it known that you want it! It takes a bold person to do this, but leaves little doubt about your interest.

These common mistakes are easily preventable with preparation, thoughtfulness and decisiveness. These tips will ensure that you display qualities that hiring managers are looking for in any industry. If you can present these characteristics in the interview, there should be little doubt that you can do so on a daily basis.

Genevieve C
CONTRIBUTOR