You went to college for four years, earned your good grades, graduated on time, and now that you are out in the “Real World” you can’t find a job to save your life. It’s pretty frustrating, right? What could you be doing wrong? You know that your résumé is top notch, your cover letter shows your brilliant personality, and you’re dressed in your best clothes for the interview. Why haven’t they offered you a great job with a starting salary at least $10,000 more than you expected?!
OK, well, calm down a little. Maybe $10,000 is a little much to ask for. But in all seriousness, you feel like you have done everything in your power to land a job – any job – and nothing has worked out for you. What gives?
According to Careers and Colleges, most new job searchers make novice mistakes that end up costing them the job. Here are the top five things to do during your job search so that you can finally move out of your parents’ house and start living the nine-to-five dream.
1. Be professional. This seems like common sense, but you might not realize the small mistakes you are making. If your applications lists your residence as a sorority or fraternity house (ie. John Smith, Delta Upsilon House, Greek Lane, Anywhere, USA), the interviewer might not take you as seriously as someone who listed just the street number. The same applies to your email address. If you are still using LittleMermaid10@DisneyPrincess.com, please set up a Gmail account or something similar, and use your real name or a respectable variation (JSmith or JohnSmith). Being professional does not only mean wearing the correct clothes to the interview; it’s the little things that count.
2. Walk the thin line between modesty and overconfidence. It is great to have some modesty, but you still have to show the interviewer why he or she should hire you. If he/she asks why you are qualified for the job, don’t just mumble something about your college GPA. At the other end of the spectrum, don’t ramble on and on about all of your wonderful accomplishments, including the time you saved a kitten from a tree of won the attendance award in second grade.
Find a happy medium by telling the interviewer about your top three accomplishments and be proud of them. Stay on subject with qualifications that are relevant for your new job, and let the interviewer know why you are the best candidate for the position.
3. Do your homework. Even though you graduated from school, there’s still homework in life. Research the company you are applying to work for. Find out who their main clients are, who their competitors are, and any relevant issues that are affecting the industry. This will make you seem more interested in the job and will also give you something to talk about besides yourself during the interview.
4. Addressing your cover letter “To Whom It May Concern”. I know, I know, this is Cover Letter 101: If in doubt, address to whom it may concern. But if you are serious about landing this job, you should not have any doubts. Call the company and ask for the name of the hiring manager. If you cannot find that person’s name, address your cover letter to the Hiring Manager. Anything is better than the impersonal standard used by the masses.
5. Stick with it. So you sent in your application yesterday, it is not time to call the company and ask if they received it yet. However, if you have not heard back from them within a week, contact the HR department. You do not want to be annoying and contact them too often, but by showing some real interest in the position, you will seem like a much more interesting prospect than Joe Schmoe, who only sent in his application and never contacted them asking for a follow-up.
Additionally, always follow-up with a personal thank you, not an IM, tweet or text. Email is fine, but a handwritten note is better.
Applying for jobs is a tiring and stressful process. But if you use these tips, you are much more likely to land your dream job…or at least a job in general. Good luck!