Seven Job Search Mistakes New Grads Make
By Caroline M.L. Potter
For the last few years, college seniors have been graduating into a soft job market. A weak economy means fewer opportunities -- and greater competition for every single opening.
"In today's employment environment, there is less room for error when looking for your first career opportunity," says Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps.
Don't let one of the following seven missteps cost you the career of your undergraduate dreams.
1. Keeping It to Yourself
When you're looking for work, you want your burgeoning network to know it. "Spread the word about your job hunt to everyone you know, including family members, friends, professors and former coworkers," says Messmer, author of Job Hunting for Dummies. "Make use of online networking sites and reach out to your local business community and staffing firms."
2. Treating Every Opportunity Equally
One resume does not fit every job opening, so don't use the same document or stock cover letter when you apply to different companies. "Tailor each resume and cover letter to the particular opportunity, and try to obtain the name of the hiring manager so you can personalize your cover letter," Messmer says. "A little detective work can go a long way in helping you stand out."
3. Making Careless Errors
Proofread, proofread, proofread. Every document you send to a potential employer must be error-free. Go through your resume, cover letter, emails, thank-you notes and any other communication with a fine-tooth comb to make certain they don't contain typos or grammatical errors. If you're not a grammar guru or lack an eagle eye, "ask a detail-oriented friend to review all of your job search materials," Messmer suggests.
4. Skipping the Due Diligence
When applying for a position, go beyond the job description to find out about the company as a whole. A little company research can go a long way, according to Messmer. "Applicants who uncover beyond-the-basics knowledge of the job and the company…are better able to communicate specific ways they can contribute to the organization's success," he says.
5. Airing Your Dirty Laundry
Before you meet someone in the flesh, online image is everything. Pictures of you goofing around with friends may seem funny, but they also may lead a recruiter to question your judgment, especially if the photos are salacious in nature or show you doing things that are illegal. "Don't post anything that would appear unprofessional [think spring break photos, rants about a former employer, etc.] to a hiring manager or recruiter," Messmer says.
6. Acting Casual
Once you begin your job search, make certain that you're acting like the professional you aspire to be. "Keep land-line and cellphone voice-mail greetings clear, professional and succinct," Messmer says. "Likewise, avoid using off-color or overly cute email addresses or signatures."
7. Forgetting Your Manners
You probably won't get every job you pursue, but it is important to be gracious to everyone you encounter on your journey to employment. "Express appreciation to everyone who helps you in your job search, whether or not their efforts on your behalf are successful," he says. "Also be sure to send thank-you notes to every hiring manager you meet."