Growing up you’re told that getting a college degree is the key to a well-paying job and successful life. If you’re a recent or upcoming college grad, you know that it is rarely that simple. Job hunting is stressful. You’re in your early twenties trying to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life. It can be hard to pinpoint where you fit, how much you need to make, and maneuver the intricacies of the job market. Here are some common mistakes recent grads make and how to avoid them so you can land the job of your dreams.
1) Not researching all options
Sometimes the first option isn’t the best option. It’s okay to apply to 50 different jobs. Look into fields other than what your degree is in. Have options and be flexible. Research all of your options. Know what is out there and what you love before you sign away 40 hours a week.
2) Applying for jobs you have enough experience for
Perhaps the most dire mistake a college grad can make is only applying to jobs they are perfectly experienced for. If you’re browsing a career website and see an opening that speaks to you, apply for the position even if you might not be 100% qualified. If you’re a good fit for the position, passionate, and willing to learn, companies will usually reward your boldness.
3) Sending the same cover letter to every position
Recruiters are smart. They see hundreds of resumes and cover letters every day so it’s in your best interest to make sure you stand out. Don’t send the same “to whom it may concern” cover letter to every organization hoping someone bites. Read into the job description and custom write each cover letter tailored to what they’re looking for. Not only will a custom cover letter show that you’ve put thought into your application, but that you genuinely care about the position you’re applying for, which translates into the workplace in the future. Yes, you can use the same template for each one.
4) Only applying to high paying jobs
We would all love a 6 figure salary right out of the gate, but it is just not realistic. While a college degree makes you marketable, it in no way entitles you to top dollar for your skills. Look into what may be a reasonable salary for someone just starting their career in your field. Determine how much you need to make to live comfortably in the city you’re in. Know that raises and promotions will come with time.
5) Not preparing for the interview
When you walk into an interview room, you should know as much about the company as the interviewer. The year the company was founded, their motto, their main source of revenue, and any other key facts they could ask. Browse their website or read their wiki page. Interviewers want to see that you are a go-getter and have at least some interest in what the company does beyond just a paycheck. Knowing facts about the company and integrating them into your “why I want to work here” spiel will make you that much more impressive and likely to get an offer.
6) Having inappropriate social media
Social media can truly make or break you in this day and age. Like it or not, every employer is going to log on to see your accounts, and you need to make sure that your social media gives them an accurate picture of who you are. So, if that means you need to go delete some pictures from St. Patty’s Day and some not-so-kind tweets, do it. Before you even send out your first application conduct a complete social media detox to clean up your accounts. Ask yourself “would I show this picture to my boss voluntarily” or “how would my mom take this tweet,”, and when in doubt, delete. Don’t let your social media jeopardize your dream job.
7) Being unwilling to relocate
All 20-somethings say they want to travel, but are rarely willing to relocate away from their families and friends to get their dream job. Employers want to see that you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes that means packing up and moving hundreds of miles away. A willingness to relocate will not only help you stand out, but open a door to endless career opportunities in amazing places.
8) Not understanding benefits
Although it can be time consuming, frustrating, and confusing, understanding what benefits each position offers can help you eliminate certain options, and even open doors. 401k matching, health care, dental, vision, tuition reimbursement, days off, and bonuses are just a few of the checklist items each job hunter needs to understand. 401k matching alone has the potential to add 5% to your gross salary. Bonuses around Christmas are always helpful. Health insurance makes more of a difference than you realize. Days off are vital to your emotional and physical health. These benefits can add thousands of dollars to your total compensation package that you might not even consider. Look into all of the organization’s offerings. Know what they bring to the table before signing on the dotted line or eliminating an employer all together.