As you were growing up, it was drummed into your head that to have a successful life, you had to go to university. A rosy picture was painted that after toiling on campus for years, a job would follow and that opportunities would automatically flow like milk and honey in paradise.
The reality, however, tends to differ with expectations. Some graduate in courses they were forced to study while others specialise in second or third choice courses as a result of circumstances beyond their control. If that is not enough, job hunting can be frustrating.
To ease your job search, we have identified some common mistakes most graduates make as they seek work and how to avoid them.
• Only applying for jobs that they are skilled in
When you are seeking work, and you find a job that sounds promising, apply for it, even if your skills-set seems to fall slightly short. Do not beat yourself up about this. Go on and give yourself a chance. Confidence and passion are qualities that many employers look for in potential employees. As long as you possess a good attitude and are willing to learn, go for it. You just have to meet a majority of the most important requirements, be willing to learn, and take criticism.
• Sending template cover letters to every position
One other glaring blunder new job seekers make is to send generic resumes with template titles like “to whom it may concern” to every organisation that they apply for. You should keenly look at the job description of each and every position you apply for and write the cover letter to meet the specific requirements each employer is looking for.
You can have a standard template, but you should edit it each time before you send it out to prospective employers. This shows that you have put thought into your application, that you care about the job you are applying for, and that you are keen and careful with what you do. All this makes you look like a good and effective future employee. Sending out template cover letters screams lazy, a quality no employer will touch. Recruiters see hundreds of resumes every day, so it is in your best interest to make sure you stand out.
• Only applying for high paying jobs
We all would like to earn six-figure salaries right after graduation. We assume that after seemingly never-ending studies, we are entitled to it. That, however, is not realistic. While your qualifications might be marketable, they do not necessarily qualify you for a high salary right away. You have to earn that top salary you want to be paid, noting that raises and promotions come with time. It is up to you to be ready to work hard and prove that you deserve it. Research the appropriate entry-level salary for the position you are applying for to also guard you against exploitation.
• Poor preparation for the interview
It is unacceptable to go into an interview room blank. When you walk into an interview room, you should know as much about the company as you can.
Find out basic company information like the year they were founded, their motto, their main source of revenue, their products, and any other important information they could ask. While at it, avoid over-doing it and looking like a show-boat. While it can not only be off-putting, it might ruffle the egos of the interview panel. If people feel threatened, like you are coming to take away their jobs, either due to your skills or intelligence, they will fight back, not be helpful or even sabotage you. Show them that you are there to complement and add to the team rather than compete with them.
When you are selling a product or service (in this case, your skills and qualifications), it is not about you. It is about the other party and what value you bring to their organisation. Knowing facts about the company and integrating them into your “why I want to work here” drive will make you much more impressive and improve your chances of getting an offer.
• Posting inappropriate content on social media
As it has been seen from the numerous scandals of celebrities and ordinary people alike, social media can make or break people. In this day and age, many potential employers are going to see your accounts, and you should make sure that your social media gives them an accurate picture of who you are. If that means you need to delete some embarrassing and inappropriate pictures (which you should not have taken in the first place) and inciting tweets and posts, do it.
Before you send out your first application, conduct a complete social media detox to clean up your accounts. Ask yourself if you would voluntarily show the picture, tweet, or post to your boss or how your mother would react if she saw what you posted, and if you doubt, you would still post it delete it. Don’t let your social media accounts jeopardise chances of you landing your dream job.
• Being unwilling to relocate
Many young people list travelling as a hobby, but few are willing to relocate away from their families and friends if a job calls for it. Employers want to see that you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone, which sometimes means packing up and moving to another town. As long as the relocation or job posting is within reason, open up your mind beyond the traditional path, you thought your career would follow. Who knows the immense opportunity for personal and career development that waits for you? Do not lock yourself out of potential career growth due to fear.
• Not finding out the benefits
It is important to know what the potential employer brings to the table before signing the contract or deciding to reject the job offer altogether. 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.
Issues like health care schemes, days off, and bonuses are just a few of the things you need to understand. Bonuses, especially around the end of the year, are always helpful. Health insurance makes more of a difference than you realise. Days off are vital to your emotional and physical health, as they allow you to refresh and rejuvenate ahead of the next week.
These benefits can add more money to your total pay cheque than you think. Look into all of the organisation’s offerings. Some jobs may be more demanding than you can handle at that particular time. You need to carry out background checks so that you can make a decision from an informed point of view and choose the best job opportunity for you at that moment.
• Running for the first offer
Sometimes the first offer that comes to you isn’t necessarily the best option.
It is always a good option to consider all the options, especially those you interviewed or applied for. You could end up getting other amazing offers and will be glad you waited. However, only do this within reason, and the time period you can afford.
It is okay to apply for many jobs. You should have options and be flexible. You should be open-minded enough to consider looking into jobs closely related to what you studied on campus. All of this is important because if you are going to spend a minimum of 40 hours a week at a place, you do not want to be one of those miserable or permanently moody people who dread going to work each morning.
Remember, you should never undersell yourself. Know what you’re worth and know-how to effectively convey that to an employer.