Six Ways College Grads Botch Job Searches

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It was so exciting to see your child walk across the stage wearing a cap and gown, but months have gone by and he/she is still looking for a decent job. What’s going on?

Former clients have sent us their recent college grads for help with jump-starting their careers. After all, some universities don’t provide much help to graduates transition to the work world. 

These are a few of the mistakes we’ve seen from the grads we’ve talked to.

1) Lack of Clarity About Their Skills and Contributions.  
I’ve seen many grads who have managed to make outstanding college years look dull and listless. 

Randy’s Resume Focused on the Wrong Things
“Randy” from Winnetka wrote much more about his job waiting tables at a pizza joint than he did about his outstanding work mobilizing students. When legislation detrimental to students was introduced in the statehouse, Randy acted like Paul Revere. He alerted everyone he knew and used social media to orchestrate a lobbying campaign that took the legislature by surprise. Legislators were impressed with the huge response from students, and the bill didn’t make it out of committee.  

Sarah Learned Not to Brag
Humility was a virtue at her home when Sarah was growing up. But it didn’t serve her well when she moved back home to Wilmette and started looking for work. She chose not to put her 4.0 GPA and her membership in a prestigious academic sorority on her resume because she thought that would look boastful. She never thought to mention the in-depth research she did for one of her professors—for which she received accolades.

Employers didn’t realize how good Randy and Sarah were. Consequently, they were hired into jobs that were beneath their abilities. Randy got fired because he was so bored. Sarah put up with it, but she’s wasn’t going to get a promotion. She showed little enthusiasm. 

2) Confusion About How the Job Market Works
“Ryan” returned home to Kenilworth eager to start his job search. He believed what many people do: hiring gets done to fill openings and vacancies. Consequently, he spent his time looking at the job openings listed online.

Of course, the truth is that hiring decision makers bring in talent because they want to get ahead in their own careers. They do  about the company, but they also want to look good, get noticed, and be seen as someone who can take on bigger responsibilities and deserves a raise. Sometimes, they are filling an opening, but often they are not.

We taught Ryan how to communicate about his experience in terms the boss wants to hear: cutting costs, creating efficiency, keeping customers satisfied, and getting favorable social media attention.

3) No clear goals
“Sandra” wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. She knew that she liked certain classes, but wasn’t sure what jobs would fit with her interests. She had some conversations with her parents’ friends in Glenview, but the conversations were unfocused and frustrating for both her and the friends.

4) No marketing plan
Even if she’d had a focus, “Sandra” had no marketing plan. She didn’t know what kinds of people she’d want to work for, how to reach them, or what to say to them. So, like Ryan, she spent her job hunting time sending resumes to online postings. She said it was much easier than going out and talking to people. That may be, but the easy way is not always effective.

We helped her to develop and execute a plan that got her in to speak directly to the hiring decision makers–and it wasn’t nearly as stressful as she’d feared.

5) Letting Their Networks Wither and Die 
“Randy” attended school close to his Glencoe home, at Northwestern University. He developed solid relationships with his professors, supervisors, alumni of his fraternity, and people he’d interfaced with in his internships and volunteer experience. Plus, he knew a lot of his parents’ friends. Many of these people would have been more than happy to help him in his search and to expand his network. He didn’t talk to any of the people because he felt like he would be “using them.” He had chosen to go it alone—with very negative results. Instead of building a vital network, he was letting his wither and die.

6) Neglecting LinkedIn
“Sam” loved social media, and he was really good at it. But he didn’t pay much attention to LinkedIn. He went through the motions of setting up a profile. He uploaded a (bad) picture of himself, wrote an uninspiring headline, didn’t bother to create a summary section, and only listed position, company, and dates in the experience section. Further, he wasn’t using it as a tool to find people in companies in which he wanted to work.

By addressing these issues (and some others), these grads transformed their searches and laid the foundation for a successful career.

Finding it painful to see your grad struggling? Let’s talk.  847 673 0339

 

Steve Frederick

Steve Frederick

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