It’s April. There is less than a month of classes remaining. You have term papers to write, finals to prepare for, and maybe even a senior (honor) thesis. All of this with the uncertainty of the job market looming over your head. You still have to find time to attend career fairs and scan the web looking for any entry-level position—which are currently coveted by professionals with way more experience than you.
Don’t panic. Finding a job is not impossible. It just requires that, more than ever, your job “swagger” is set on high.
Shane Mazzella, who overseas academic programs as director of U.S .Programs at The Fund for American Studies, has advised thousands of students on work etiquette and job-related issues. Here are several pitfalls that even the bright and promising have fallen into. Don’t let them lock you out of the perfect job:
1. Looking at job boards only. Some applicants think that posting a resume on monster.com or a school’s career website is enough to land them a job. Even if your resume is stellar there are thousands of profiles on job boards. A recruiter finding your resume is like pulling your needle out of that haystack.
Advice: Don’t neglect networking. Less than 25% of available jobs are advertised in any medium. Talk to people you know (friends, parents, relatives, significant others, professors, advisors, church members) and ask them to speak to others in your field of interest. Also, don’t neglect informational interviews. These are excellent opportunities to attach your face to your resume. While they may not yield a job right away, you may be kept in mind for the future or provided other leads.
2. Bad rezumes. Countless people err bye not having someone review there resume b4 sending it out. What makes a resume bad isnt necessarily content: but incorrect grammer, text language and typo’s that could’ve been cot. In this competitive job mrkt even the smallest error could get ur resume dysmissed.
Advice: Have as many eyes review your resume as possible. Spell check is not enough.
3. Mismatch. “Dear To Whom It May Concern, I am applying for the marketing assistant position at XYZ Company. I just graduated with a degree in micro biology and I seek an accounts payable/finance position. In past internships I taught sports and worked in the dining hall.” If you’re not tailoring your resume and cover letter to each specific position and organization you are applying to, they will land in the trash.
Advice: Know to whom you should address your cover letter. If the person’s name is not available on the advertisement, call and ask. Make sure that his/her name is spelled correctly. Also, your past experience should demonstrate direct or transferrable skills for the position which you are applying. If not, reconsider applying.
4. Reading cliff notes versus the book. When preparing for an interview applicants tend to skim a few sections of a company’s website. Then they stumble their way through the inevitable question, “What do you know about us?” That’s a red flag against you! Just as professors can tell when you haven’t read Grapes of Wrath, recruiters/employers sense quickly whether you know what they do and what they are about.
Advice: Don’t just read the jobs page and skim the rest of the website. Take time to review the entire website, annual reports and other publications. Visit websites that also profile the company or organization you’re interested. Use social media sites like Facebook and Linked In to get a sense of their online presence (if any). By doing your homework, it will demonstrate your genuine interest.
5. Forget their A-game. Too often candidates are ill prepared for an interview because they don’t anticipate questions that could be asked and are stumped by very simple, easily answered questions.
Advice: Research general interview questions and information specific to the industry of the job. Get comfortable with answering potential questions by practicing with friends or a significant other. Finally, arrive at your interview prepared to answer questions and ask them. Have one to two questions ready because a likely question for you will be “Do you have any questions for me?” and interviewers will use this to judge your interest in the organization and position.
About The Fund for American Studies
The Fund for American Studies is an educational nonprofit organization in Washington D.C. with internship and academic programs for college students administered in partnership with Georgetown University. Please visit www.TFAS.org to learn more.
Are you a college student (or recent grad) interested in a DC internship for that extra professional edge? Check out our opportunities at www.dcinternships.org.