Career Advice for Job Seekers

7 Things not to do after graduation

William Frierson AvatarWilliam Frierson
August 16, 2012


If there’s one thing you can count on after college graduation it is that there will be a long line of people waiting to give you career advice. However, their advice usually revolves around what you should do after you graduate, but there’s plenty of advice on what not to do after school.

Some of us are better prepared for real life after college. Students who earn a professional degree (i.e. engineering, education, nursing, accounting, etc) or who get their first job through a college internship usually have an easier road to travel after they walk across the stage with their diploma. The rest of us, though, often need a little more time to get our careers off the ground.

This extra time can be both a blessing and a curse for recent grads. It is a blessing, because it’s an opportunity to find your best career route. It is a curse, because anxiety and fear about the future can lead to the following post-graduation no-no’s.

You Refuse to Move Back in With Your Parents

Most college students move after graduation. Those graduates who haven’t nailed their first job before the end of the summer are usually left with a major predicament; try to find a temporary job and a dependable roommate or move back in with mom and dad.

Moving back in with your parents after college can feel like a huge letdown, but it may be the better option, especially if you aren’t anywhere close to figuring out where to go with your career. Temporary jobs and roommates may allow you to keep your freedom for a while, but you will eventually find it difficult to conduct job searches and interviews while working a full-time gig at the mall.

However, before moving back in with mom and pop, write a checklist of what you’ll need to do to get back out on your own within a year or less. The last thing you want to happen is another post-graduation no-no known as “too scared to move out on your own.”

You Move in With Your Significant Other

When looking for a roommate after graduation, many students find it appealing to move in with their significant others, because they feel as if it is the most natural next step in their relationship. However, this is a major life decision that should not be taken lightly.

If you are thinking about moving in with your lover because you need help paying the rent for a tiny, one bedroom apartment, stop and think about what would happen to you should the relationship end. Would you be able to support yourself?

Before moving in with anyone, it is best to make sure your own income can cover the costs associated with rent and all the other bills, just in case someone decides to bail on you. In addition, before moving in with a significant other, make sure you understand the emotional stress that could come from a potential breakup. Can you handle the stress of starting a career and losing a person you depend on for financial support?

You Panic and Move to the City

There’s a lot of news out there right now on the topic of “where to find good jobs.” Of course, major cities like Washington, D.C., Dallas, Houston, San Francisco and Chicago usually top the list, and while these cities do have a lot of different jobs to support their respective populations, these jobs aren’t always better than something you could find back in your hometown.

Unless you hold a professional degree, most of the jobs available to recent college graduates in major cities don’t pay well. In fact, because it costs more money to live in a large city, you may struggle to pay your bills.

Before packing up and looking for a golden opportunity in the big city, do your research. Better yet, find the job you want before you move. Oh, and never underestimate the power of home sickness.

You’re Too Scared to Work Your Hometown Network

A lot of recent college grads neglect one of the best job search tools available to them; their own local network. Although you may have not visited or kept up with the people in your hometown during college, the people who have known you since childhood still remember and care for you.

Whatever industry you are looking to work in, there is a good chance that someone from your neighborhood, high school, church or other local organization knows someone else who can help you find a job. At the very least, it is an opportunity to grow a professional network that will work for you for the rest of your life.

You’re Too Concerned with Getting a “Real Job”

Some recent college grads are so concerned with finding a “real job” after school that they refuse to apply for great entry-level positions. Unfortunately, the longer you take to find a job, the longer you will be living without a means of supporting yourself. Your resume will also be empty of current work experience, and this may be viewed negatively by potential “real job” employers.

As a general rule of thumb, if you haven’t found the job you were hoping within four months of graduating, you should begin applying for and taking whatever entry-level job you can find. You will at least be able to put something on your resume and make a little money while you continue your job search.

You Won’t Go in Person to Apply

This no-no is one of the biggest mistakes made by recent college graduates. Many companies now require applicants to submit their resumes and cover letters online, either through email or through an online employment system. Although these tools have made it easier for human resource departments and hiring managers to sort through their applicant pool, they sure haven’t made it easier for job seekers to find work.

After you fill out your online application, go to the office to introduce yourself. If you can’t go in person, call them. Introducing yourself in person is the number one way you can land a job, because it helps you stand out of the crowd. Even if the employer asks you not to call or go in person, ignore it. Yes, some companies may not take kindly to your visits, but the one that does may be the one that asks you to come back for an interview.

You Won’t Use Your College’s Career Center

Your college’s career center is a great resource that is usually offered to you for free after graduation. This is where you should go to get help with building your resume, writing cover letters, learning how to answer interview questions, etc. The career center also usually has a job list for you to review, and if you are looking for a post-graduation internship, colleges are often notified first of openings.

Graduating college is one of the most exciting yet scary moments in life, but everyone makes it out alive. If you stay true to your heart and think things through before making any decisions, your road to a successful career will be a little less bumpy and stressful. Good luck!

Melissa Miller is a cheerleader for online associate degree programs. Not literally, of course (since online schools don’t have sports teams), but in the sense that her writings will encourage you to “B-E aggressive” about your education. Send your questions to

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