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Articles / Career Planning / 10 Worst Mistakes of Job Hunters

Jan. 4, 2021

10 Worst Mistakes of Job Hunters

You may be wondering why I'm posting about job hunting. Apparently it has nothing to do with college admissions. However, the information in this article is equally applicable for not only college graduates but also high school students looking for summer work. These days, summer jobs, which can be a key piece of profile information for college applicants, are becoming increasingly hard to find and the competition is keener than ever.

So, I'm trying here to combine some key information that can aid those about to head out into the "real" world and those about to head into the unreal (ivory-tower-like) world of higher education. While I can probably come up with some even worse job-hunting mistakes (maybe in a future post), I'll stick with these for now, since they appear to make a lot of sense.

Here is the introduction to the article. I have adapted it to suit both college and high school juniors and seniors.

"If you're in your final year of college or are a high school junior or senior, be warned: the rumors about landing a job in this economy, even a part-time summer job, are true. You should be taking steps today, not next semester, to prepare yourself."

Rather scary stuff. Let's take a look at the details and see what those ten worst mistakes are. Hopefully, you won't make (or haven't made) any of them.

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 ...

Here then are the Big 10 (not associated with the athletic conference) that respondents noted in the survey, along with a few qualifying words. Read the entire article for maximum wisdom.

1. "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 ...

2. "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 ...

3. "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 ...

4. "I would have gotten more involved in career-relevant extracurricular activities."

On-campus groups, clubs, events and activities are a great place to get experience that translates to the working world. Skills are skills. You can show you have gained relevant experience by planning concerts on campus or working as a freshman orientation assistant, for example ...

5. "I would have applied to more jobs."

Many recent graduates regret not putting out more feelers. According to the Adecco survey, 26% of recent graduates would have applied to more jobs prior to finishing school ...

6. "I would have focused more on becoming 'professional.'"

Save the sweatpants and fratty T-shirts for the weekend. Replace them with clothes that are fitted, pressed and at the very least casual-Friday appropriate even when you're going to class. You may think dressing well every day doesn't matter, but the professors you ask for recommendations will remember your style ...

7. "I would have done more to figure out what my career goals were."

Your first job out of college is unlikely to be your dream position, if you even know what that is. Indecision can hold you back, so set up some informational interviews to try to narrow your focus ...

8. "I would have gone to the career center."

This is what they call a "no-brainer." You might not think you need your university's services, but there's no reason to find out the hard way you did something wrong that could have been avoided ...

9. "I would have kept better track of my achievements."

Experts say that even on-campus accolades belong on your resume.

"Start creating tangible results with your name on them so you have evidence of your ability to add value," said Tulgan. "Save the tangible results, date them, and be prepared to present them." ...

10. "I would have focused more on developing relevant skills."

Having an awareness of industry-specific skills as well as broad, transferable ones is a way to really stand out ...


Some of these may seem like simple common sense. However, there's not a lot of common sense going on in the full-time and even summer job market these days. Maybe it's time for a post that lists 10 Best Strategies of Job Hunters. Have any suggestions?


Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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