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Job Search Mistakes of New College Grads

By Igor Khayet, Founder and President of MyResumeShop.com

Congratulations, you’re about to graduate! And the minute you toss your cap in the air, life, as you know it will go with it. But change is what we’re made for, and landing your first job is just the beginning. Here are some tips for making sure you end up in a job that fits you a whole lot better than that odd-fitting cap and gown.

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Think Outside of the Box- When I first visited my career center, they handed me a diagnostic test to help me choose a future career.  It suggested I become an Embalmer. Now you might get something closer to reality, but just remember that those diagnostics are purposed to give you very basic information.  The career center is just the first step. Use its resources to find out what connections they have, how to use the alumni network, and what companies they are bringing to campus. But make sure to explore what else is out there. Don’t leave it to chance that your desired employer or opportunity is connected to the center. Expand your opportunities: start networking, connect with professional organizations, and attend conferences related to your interests.

Know Your Alumni- Like links in the chain to your dream job, alumni in your network can help connect you to your future. Alumni care about the reputation of their alma mater and they want to see you succeed. They are there to help you find the right job—it doesn’t get much better! But networking with alums can be intimidating. Make sure to start the search early; connect and create meaningful relationships, meet with them to learn more about industries that interest you; don’t just ask for a job. Expand your network by asking them if there is anyone else they can refer you to. Remember that there are more effective and personal ways of connecting than email. Send a letter, pick up the phone, or go to an event they plan to attend. 

Get Hooked Up- Getting connected through LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook is an absolute must. While it wont drive your job search, it is a necessary platform from which to present yourself to potential employers; it’s also a great way to increase your exposure and expand your network. Use LinkedIn to connect with alumni, follow up with professional contacts,research companies, and find groups to follow in your target industry. Use twitter to connect with recruiters and follow the advice of thought-leaders in your chosen industry.

Go for More than the Gold- Contrary to common perception, careers are not linear. The most successful people you will meet will be those that take advantage of diverse opportunities. It may shock you, but often such a person will take a pay cut for a great experience or to work with an exceptional person. First, remember that you shouldn’t just follow the herd. A finance or consulting position may not be the golden ticket you think it is. I’ve seen countless people at top universities apply for consulting jobs without any idea of what it means or how it would makes sense for their careers. Second, the most interesting jobs and internships are often unadvertised, like the assistant to a CEO or President. If you’re not sure about where you want to go, these are opportunities for you find for yourself through building a stronger network.

Handouts that Stand Out- If you’re applying for an interesting position, it’s probably competitive. With smart people just like you applying for the same job, you have to find a way to make yourself stand out. Yes, these people also served as vice president of (name of some ridiculous college club) and are “proficient with Microsoft Excel.” What makes you unique? How will your resume make an employer do a double take? Does your cover letter simply rehash what is on your resume? Be creative, yet professional. Your resume and cover letter should show that you care. This is your one chance to impress; don’t lose this opportunity by copying from a book or from one of your classmates.

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