The fall is upon us and this is the season of stress for recent grads who still have not found a job. While some grads may have decided to take the summer off and are finally focused on the search, others have been actively pursuing opportunities without success. In speaking with grads, I always ask, “What is your greatest challenge in the job search?” Common concerns include job search strategies, interview skills, and finding the confidence to move forward.

Here are 3 typical mistakes that grads make, and the FIX to achieve career success:

Mistake #1: Applying for a job online    

At first glance, it looks like there are hundreds of jobs to be had when applying to an online job site. They make it so easy to click “apply here.” It is a wonderfully passive way to apply for a job. Just click and wait…and wait. Recent grads will tell me, “I applied to 50 jobs!” but wonder why they have not heard back weeks or months later. Here is the truth about applying online…THIS IS A BLACK HOLE. I repeat. THIS IS A BLACK HOLE.

The Fix: The only way you will have success applying online is if you have a unique work experience (which is rare for a recent grad) or you know someone at the company who can grab your resume and get it in front of the right person. The better way to spend your time is by networking with someone who works at the company or reaching out to the HR recruiter and letting them know you applied and you would like to speak with them further. Making direct contact with an employee will improve your chance of success.

Mistake #2: Interview blunders

Many recent grads are nervous about the interview. A common concern is not knowing how much to say or explain. If you ramble, the employer will get bored and not follow you. If you say too little or are vague, you come across as not informed. The other mistake is you answer the question too honestly and expose personal information that can influence the hiring decision such as family information or mental/ physical disabilities. Last, you did not research the company and you barely know anything about them.

The Fix: Think of the interview as a consultant. Understand the challenges of the business and share with the employer the benefits you have to help them.

  1. Describe your skills and talents. Think about what skills you are best at and how that’s important to the job.
  2. PRACTICE saying these skills ahead of time and listening to how you sound.
  3. Research the company and write down 2-3 facts about the company you find interesting. Be prepared to answer why you want to work there.
  4. Show you can add value to their business.
  5. Keep personal information to yourself…especially during the interview phase.


Mistake #3: You think you are not qualified 

You see the job ad and it says “2+ years of experience required to apply.” Your first thought is, “How can I possibly apply? I just graduated and only have one or two summers of part-time work. I am sure I’m not qualified, I’ll skip it.”

The Fix: Here is a secret… it is rare that a candidate will meet every requirement on a job ad – most do not. If you meet a majority of the requirements and it is in a field that you want, then you should go for it. More importantly, exuding confidence and projecting yourself as someone who can DO the job is equally or more important than the “2+ years” of experience.

Searching for a first job out of school can be a daunting process for many, but it is important to use your time wisely and effectively to get the results you seek. You have worked hard for your diploma and this is not the time to let up by giving in to these common job search mistakes. Be patient, be focused, and be prepared, as the next opportunity could be the best one for you.

If you would like to find out how Next Great Step helps new graduates achieve career success, contact us for a complimentary consultation at 973-577-6161 or schedule a time here.