Congratulations on graduation! Now comes the scary part: trekking out into the real world and using that diploma to get a full-time job. If your college experience was anything like mine, you’ll feel a little uneasy about translating classroom experiences and textbook knowledge into the workforce. With that said, let’s take a look at and learn from some of the most common mistakes made by recent graduates:
1. Having unrealistic expectations about your first job. Unless you’re graduating from med school, your first job is not going to be your dream job. Depending on the field you are in, it may feel like you’re pretty far away from your dream job. Such is the way of life. You start at the bottom of the totem pole and work your way up. Expect it and get ready for it so you’re not heartbroken when it happens.
2. Not being formal enough. In college you can get away with sweatpants, unkempt hair, and wrinkly clothes. Your look needs to change real fast and real soon if you want a full-time job. Employers are only interested in individuals that can demonstrate professionalism. After all, they’re hiring you to represent themselves and their company. Your image is important – more important than you think!
3. Not catering your resume and video resume to the specific jobs you’re looking for. You have skills and you have a degree. But you can’t just list them on your resume and word vomit them into your video resume. You need to present them in a way that shows employers that they are skills that would be beneficial to their companies. If you’re applying for a psychology position, the first heading of your resume should be “Psychology Experience.” List all of your psychology internships, volunteer positions, research assistant positions, achievements, and particularly notable courses in this single location to show the employer that you’re capable of performing in a given psychology position. You need to convince the employer not that you’re a good employee but that you’re a good employee for THIS job.
4. Not utilizing your network. You have parents. And your parents (hopefully!) have friends with jobs. Use this resource! You’d be surprised how large your network actually is and how many contacts your parents have. Although networking can feel awkward and uncomfortable at first, the more you do it, the easier and more natural it will become. And once you get started, you’ll realize how beneficial this tool can be in your job search. According to an APA survey, for example, psychology graduates reported networking as their most-successful avenue in their job search.
And there you have it: four common mistakes made by recent graduates. Now, all you have to do is take Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice and you’ll be golden: “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”