4 Job Search Mistakes to Avoid – and What to do Instead
Network like a pro and learn from every opportunity.
Whether or not you’re actively looking for a job or internship, the networking process never really stops. Even if you aren’t pursuing a professional opportunity, the decisions you make and actions you take always have a potential impact on future experiences.
As a senior who will be graduating this coming May, I’ve received a lot of advice lately about how to go about landing the job of my dreams. I’ve also learned quite a few lessons firsthand about the right things to do while pursuing job and internship opportunities – as well as what not to do. Every negative experience can provide a learning opportunity. Some of these are things I’ve learned through personal experience and others are things I’ve picked up from others, but there is a lesson to be learned from each point.
Don’t: come across as ignorant.
When you show up for an interview – and even before that when you’re writing a cover letter – it’s extremely important to show that you know something about the company. I’m not a recruiter, but I think it’s safe to say that most, if not all, would stop considering a potential candidate if that person knew absolutely nothing about the company – no matter how qualified that person might be for the position.
Do: research. Lots of it. Familiarize yourself with the company’s website while you’re applying for the position, then take a deep-dive of the site and all of the company’s social media accounts after you’ve been contacted for an interview. During the interview, ask informed questions based on information you’ve already gleaned from your research.
Don’t: be careless about social media.
It’s been said a million times, but it’s worth repeating. Everything that you post can (and most likely will) show up when recruiters search for you. Even if you don’t constantly post pictures of yourself engaging in questionable behavior, constant complaining or negative posts can be a turnoff as well – who wants a Debbie Downer working for them?
Do: keep your profiles networking-friendly. Think before you post: if there’s a possibility that your future employer would get the wrong idea about you from whatever you’re about to publicize, it might be a good idea to keep it offline.
Don’t: surround yourself with unmotivated people.
This can be easier said than done, especially if said people are your close friends. Unfortunately, it’s true that the people we spend the most time with have a huge influence on the way we act. Although it’s not directly related to searching for your dream job, hanging around a lazy and unmotivated crowd over time will prevent you from reaching your full potential.
Do: expand your social circle. Join student organizations aimed at people in your program of study. The students who are active in these types of groups are usually highly motivated and successful – not to mention the fact that they would make great contacts for future job opportunities!
Don’t: get down on yourself if something doesn’t work out.
I think it’s safe to say that nobody has gotten every single job they’ve applied for. When you get that dreaded email “regretfully informing” you that the position has been offered to another one of the “many qualified and talented candidates,” it can seem like the end of the world. If you’re anything like me, you’ll start overanalyzing everything that happened throughout the application and interview process: did I talk with my hands too much? Did I ask stupid questions? Did I have food stuck in my teeth? In reality, though, the answer to all of those questions might be a simple no. The interview process is designed to find the candidate who would be the best fit not only for the position, but for the company. Just because one recruiter didn’t think you would be a good fit for his or her company doesn’t mean you won’t be a perfect fit somewhere else.
Do: remember that it’s not the end of the world. Whenever I apply for new opportunities, I like to have the following conversation in my head. One of my high school teachers taught our class this technique and it can really change your perspective.
Q. “What is your situation like right now?”
A. “I don’t have Internship X.”
Q. “What will your situation be like if things don’t work out?”
A. “I won’t have Internship X.”
Q. “Is not having Internship X right now the absolute most horrible thing, or are you surviving without it?”
More often than not, the answer to that last question will be something along the lines of I’m doing fine without it now, and I’ll keep doing fine if it doesn’t work out. It’s not the end of the world if something doesn’t work out the way that you hoped it would. The challenge is to find something even better that will challenge you (in a good way) while helping you grow professionally.
No matter what kinds of opportunities you’re pursuing at this point in your college career, I wish you the best of luck!