Top Mistakes New Grads Make in the Job Search

mistakes new grads make in the job search

Graduating from college is an exciting time, and for many, a great personal achievement.  But, for those who weren’t able to secure employment in advance of all the celebration, alongside the festivities comes the daunting task of securing gainful employment—hopefully in your field of study.

As these new college grads get ready to enter the workforce, they face big reality check with increased competition for available positions and often, a lack of relevant work experience.  With their sites set high, the world unfolding a whole new adventure in front of them, and employers ready to give them a wakeup call, there are a number of misconceptions and mistakes these job seekers fall prey to when trying to start their new careers.

Your Degree Means Squat

Okay, so yes, that diploma does have some value, but probably not as much as you put on it.  Employers like to hire college graduates, but you’re competing against not only your fellow graduates but others who’ve been in the workforce and have experience.  You’ve got to have more to set you apart from the competition than a piece of paper.

It’s Going to be an Easy Ride

Speaking of the competition, you’re probably already behind the game too when it comes to interview skills and job search prep.  Even if you spent time in your career services department, many are still providing out dated advice when it comes to preparing resumes and approaching the job search and interview process.  You may have thought you were done with your studies, but now is the time to do your research and put your nose to the grind stone.  Putting in that extra work could mean the difference between that great starter job in finance and flipping burgers until something better comes along.

Having a One Track Mind

Got a degree in Medieval Studies and dream of writing scholarly papers and travelling the world giving lectures?  Or maybe it was Theater and you’re having trouble landing steady gigs?  Even those in standard business related fields can struggle to find work in their industries.  Sometimes you have to be open to exploring new possibilities and showcasing your transferable skills.  And while you may have started out with one dream, you never know what new and exciting opportunities life might have in store that you couldn’t even imagine before.

Not Seizing the Limitations

You just graduated and the world is your oyster—the possibilities are endless, at least that’s what all the inspirational graduation cards tell you.  And they are, but the realization that you now have all these choices to make and unlimited potential can be paralyzing. But, let’s face the real reality: you don’t have a great deal of work experience, you probably have student loans that will kick in shortly and you’ll be strapped for cash if you don’t land a good job soon, you might even be faced with relocating back home or at the very least out of the protective environment of your dorms.

Sometimes you have to stop thinking outside the box and get back in to figure out how to move forward.  Your limitations on what you can do can actually help propel your decisions on where to apply, what types of jobs to pursue, how to get creative in show casing your experience, or talking alternative approaches to getting noticed as a job candidate.  Sometimes your limitations can lead to your liberation if you have the right creative mindset.

Relying Only on Yourself

You’re now a graduate, everyone has high expectations for you, and the pressure to face the world alone can leave you in tears at the end of the day as you struggle to get ahead.  A degree says you have an education, but reaching out for help says you have a brain.  If you’re smart, you won’t try to go it alone.  Ask for help from everyone you know, network, create a support system, seek advice, and use every resource you have available to you to land a job.  There’s no shame in getting the job you want, and even if there’s a little shame, I’m sure it’s less than the shame you’d feel still being out of work a year later because you were too prideful to seek aid.

Holding Onto Your Old Self

Much of college was building relationships and a reputation to get you through your 4 years , but in the real world, that reputation doesn’t mean much except for any networking you can leverage for job leads and introductions.  Many grads subconsciously forget that no one knows them from Tuesday and fail at the simple things like learning how to distinguish themselves on paper or taking time to understand what they really want in a job or company because they’re still functioning inside a protected bubble.

It’s time to burst it and realize that you’re now a new person whether you like it or not.  Take the good with you and let go of any baggage–this is the next chapter of your life and guess what, you get to choose how to edit it–at least when it comes to showcasing yourself to employers.  So edit wisely and make sure you not only look good on paper but can back it up in person, because rarely do you get second chances at the same opportunities.

One last note, you might fail before you succeed, and that’s okay.  But you can’t call yourself a failure if you’ve never tried. For some the job search will be easy and others a long, arduous struggle.  Don’t give up, and don’t stop trying to reach for something you really want—this is only the beginning and it will all be worth it in the end.  Good luck out there and welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.

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About Robin Rayburn

Robin L. Rayburn is the Editor & General Manager of Robin was introduced to the recruitment industry in 2007 and her passion for people has never let her stray far from it since. In her spare time she manages her blog,, tweets from @interviewingcom and @chitowntexan, and is always striving to help those around her who have a vision for success. You can also find Robin on LinkedIn and Google+.

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One Comment

  1. InterviewSuccessMay 22, 2013 at 12:53 pmReply

    tips. Another mistake? Failing to showcase your story in the job search
    and in your interview. Your professional backstory is what makes you
    stand apart from other candidates. Show off your stuff, make sure you
    point out how you’ve created success, and don’t be afraid to be a little
    bold. This is how you can be memorable in your job search and beyond.

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