Tuesday, November 1, 2011
The 10 Worst Mistakes of First-Time Job Hunters
If you're in your final year of college, be warned: the rumors about landing a job in this economy are true. You should be taking steps today, not next semester, to prepare yourself.
An April 2011 survey conducted by Braun Research on behalf of Adecco Staffing U.S. found that 71% of 500 recent four-year college graduates would have done something differently to prepare for the job market. While companies will hire 9.5% more graduates from the class of 2012 than they did from the 2011 graduating class, according to another poll, employers are still looking for the pick of the litter.
"When you're not familiar with the job market or job seeking, you really don't know how much effort it will take," said Kathy Kane, senior vice president of talent management for Adecco NA,
To find out what students can do to better prepare for the current job market, we spoke with career coaches, recruiters and recent graduates.
"I would have started looking for jobs earlier."
Putting off your job hunt isn't a wise move. Among the Adecco survey's respondents, 26% said they would have started looking for potential positions earlier.
"It's easy to fall into 'my weekend starts on Thursday' mode, rather than 'I've got to put my job search into full gear today' mode," said Kane, "but procrastinators will have fewer choices."
Most students don't start thinking about their careers until they have to, said Lindsey Pollak, a career expert who focuses on Generation Y in the workplace. "There's so much you can do that's not a lot of work and not overly time consuming."
"I would have actually networked."
For students and older professionals alike, networking can feel like the most dreaded part of a job hunt. Twenty-nine percent of respondents to the Adecco survey said they would have spent more time building a solid professional network.
"Networking can be scary," said Pollak, "but about 70% of jobs are found through networking." Students who spend their time trolling job boards should instead spend that time making solid connections with people who are respected and involved in the workforce, industry experts and alumni, and spend only 30% of their time looking at job listings.
For the most part, Pollak said, people love to help students. As long as you are gracious and thankful and not trying to hard-sell yourself right off the bat, potential connections are likely to be receptive.
"I would have taken on a job or an internship in addition to my courseload."
Bottom line: There's no substitute for experience.
Having some professional experience under your belt before entering the workforce has become a necessity for many employers.
"I don't know a company that doesn't want people with internship experience," said Pollak. "My advice is to get yourself through the recession any way you can, and come out with whatever experience you can."
Look for internships that provide college credit or are paid. Otherwise, gain work experience in a setting such as waiting tables -- and talk with people at each and every table. "There are CEOs who started networking while they were waiting tables," Pollak said.
If you can't find a full- or part-time position on- or off-campus, try going to the Internet for virtual work. "There are jobs you can get without even leaving your dorm room," Pollak said, including maintaining someone's social media outlets, working as a copyeditor or building a website for a small business. Many of these types of jobs have flexible hours, an added benefit for busy students.
"I would have gotten more involved in career-relevant extracurricular activities."
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