Avoid These 10 Mistakes and Land Your Dream Job

Posted March 05, 2015 by
Sarah Landrum photo

Sarah Landrum

After you graduate, the real fun begins; and by fun I mean work. Let me rephrase that: After you graduate is when the real effort begins. All of the energy leading up to the fireworks of graduation quickly fades, and then it’s time to land a job.

Of course, you’re not looking for any job. You want to land your dream job.

Working toward your goal of landing that perfect job isn’t going to come without some effort. While the days and weeks after graduation might seem like the perfect time to relax and revel in the glory of all you’ve accomplished, quite the opposite is true.

Now is the time to buckle down and go confidently toward the career you worked so hard to achieve. To help bring your plans to fruition, avoid these 10 mistakes. After all, landing your dream job depends on it.

Mistake #1: Not Appropriately Networking

If you’re not attending job fairs or connecting with people you already know, you’re not living up to your potential. It is said that 80 percent of jobs are landed through networking.

The neighbor lady who corners you at the mailbox or the librarian you’ve become friendly with over the years might be your connection to the job you’ve been waiting for.

Don’t overlook connecting with people you already know, but connecting with them in a new, professional way. Let the people in your life know that you’re looking for a job. You might be surprised at the opportunities that present themselves.

Mistake #2: Using a Lackluster Resume

A cookie-cutter resume won’t do a thing for you. In fact, the appropriate resume strategy for your targeted career is vital to landing the right job. Use the following tips for creating an impressive resume:

  • Aim for brevity. Delete any unnecessary or silly words.
  • Quantify your resume. Add statistics and numbers when possible.
  • Tailor it. Tweak your resume as needed when you apply for different job.
  • Do your research. Resume expectations differ depending on industry. Know what’s expected.

Mistake #3: Being Careless

Making sloppy mistakes is detrimental to your progress toward landing your dream job. Be sure to write everything down, like interview times, addresses, phone numbers and contact names, and stay organized to avoid any mishaps. (You definitely don’t want to address your interviewer by the wrong name or miss your correct interview time.)

Also, be diligent about grammar. If your resume contains spelling or grammar errors, the only position you’ll land is in the Do Not Hire pile. Be sure to master these commonly confused words to avoid embarrassment from silly mistakes.

Mistake #4: Only Looking for Job Openings

Yes, searching online job boards is helpful; and yes, networking is extremely important. However, there’s also a lot to be said about connecting with companies that interest you. Follow these companies on social media and stay informed about potential openings. This might involve making a connection in HR or checking in with another contact within the company every so often.

Sometimes your dream job won’t be posted on a job site, nor will the opportunity present itself at a job fair. Sometimes it’s all about being patient and staying in touch. Maintain a good rapport with a company you’re interested in, and then when it’s time to hire, they’ll remember you.

Mistake #5: Neglecting an Online Presence

If you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re missing out. If you’re on LinkedIn but holding a wine bottle in your profile picture, you’re also missing out. Today, it’s more important than ever to maintain positive, active and professional profiles online. Here is some advice for maintaining your online presence:

  • Use a professional profile picture. Opt for a solid background with an easily recognizable picture of yourself wearing something nice. This means no cleavage or beer bongs in the picture.
  • Post content relevant to your industry. Posting relevant content shows prospective employers you’re concerned with what’s going on in the industry. Dedicate some time every week to creating or sharing relevant content.
  • Connect and follow other professionals. Use social media to connect with and follow other people in your industry. This might open some new doors, and it will surely reflect your dedication to and general interest in your field.

Mistake #6: Not Being Professional

There are few things less appealing than an unprofessional interviewee. Here are a few common mistakes recent graduates make when it comes to professionalism:

  • They don’t dress the part. Your clothes can influence your chances of getting the job, so always dress for success. It’s smart to err on the side of conservative if you’re unsure of a company’s dress code.
  • They show up late. Aim to be early, never right on time or late. If you’re late, it sends a signal that you don’t care.
  • They don’t use appropriate language. Don’t speak to your interviewer in the same way you’d speak to your friends at happy hour. Don’t use slang or profanity. Do use industry jargon.

Mistake #7: Being Ill-Prepared for the Interview

Before any interview, make sure you know a thing or two about the company. Beyond looking at the website and perusing the mission statement, see if you can find an answer to the following questions:

  • Who is the company owner?
  • What services does the company offer?
  • Is the company involved in any philanthropy?
  • Is there any recent news involving the company?

Mistake #8: Settling for Something Too Low

Be sure to consider your overall career goals and personal goals before settling on a job. For example, if you know you’ll be miserable working in retail while you actively seek a job in education, look for something else. You can likely find a way to more appropriately bridge the connection between what’s available and where you want to go. If your job search toward a career in elementary education is proving to be hard to land, look for a job in a day care or as a nanny or in a tutoring position instead of a job at the convenient store down the street.

Mistake #9: Badmouthing a Previous Employer

As tempting as it may be, it’s never OK to badmouth a previous employer during an interview or at a brand new job. Yes, you may have experienced some less-than-savory or even unscrupulous people in your previous professional endeavors, but respectfully relaying only your positive takeaways from any situation will paint you as the positive, energetic person that you are. No one likes a griping, negative Nancy.

Mistake #10: Having a Negative Mentality

Speaking of being negative, here’s another reason to stay away from pessimistic comments or a downbeat attitude: Negativity is contagious. The individual interviewing you is very aware of this fact. Instead of commenting on your struggle with starting your career after graduation, comment on what the job search has taught you about the job market. Instead of making a negative comment about how you struggled to find a parking spot before the interview, make a positive comment about the building or surrounding community.

The Ultimate Takeaway

After graduation, a celebration is surely in order. Graduation is a milestone and you should be proud of your efforts, but it’s also the time to keep your nose to the grindstone and begin the next stage, which is landing the job you’ve worked so hard for. Avoid making the mistakes that many recent graduates make, and you’ll be one step closer to that dream coming true.

Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping others find happiness and success in their careers. Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum

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