• The #1 student job search mistake

    June 25, 2016 by

    As an Associate Career Services Director for the University of Michigan and the CEO of Break into Tech, I’ve had the privilege to work with hundreds of students during the job search while trying to launch their careers. And it’s an area I’m particularly proud to support, having leveraged my own student experience to land roles at Apple, LinkedIn, and startups.

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    But the one thing that shocks me time and again is that 95% of students make the same mistake when it comes to landing a job. And no, it’s not a bad resume, or a poorly written cover letter or even weak interview skills. Instead, it’s that most basic trait:

    Humility.

    Yes, humility.

    Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Huh? How hard could it be to act humble?”

    But here’s the real deal. That same confidence is a handicap. Because it blinds students to just how hard it is to stay humble in a world where everyone always has to be on, to constantly present their best self.

    As evidence, allow me to submit my experience as a Michigan alum working at LinkedIn:

    • Every single day during application season, I’d received at least one email from a current student who wanted to work in Silicon Valley
    • Usually, those emails started out: “Dear Jeremy, I’m XXX and I’d really like to work at LinkedIn…”
    • Eventually I’d get on the phone with these students, and they’d spend the first 15 minutes of the call telling me about themselves, and the last 15 minutes asking me if I could help them get a job.
    • Then, I’d never hear from them again.

    On the other hand, about 2-3 times a year, the sequence would go very differently:

    • I’d get an email from a student well before application season that said: “Dear Jeremy, As a a Michigan student, I was so excited to come across your profile today. I can’t tell you how inspiring it was to find someone who’s walked your path. I know you must be really busy, but would you ever have a few minutes to share your story with me?”
    • When I got on the phone with them, we’d spend 15 minutes talking about my experience, followed by 15 minutes of them asking me for my advice about really tricky career questions.
    • Then they’d follow-up the next month to wish me a happy holiday or update me on campus. And they’d continue to do that each month with cool articles they found or little tidbits of school news.
    • Then, only when application season finally rolled around, would they ever ask for support during the application process.

    And sure enough, about 2-3 times a year, I’d write an internal recommendation for a student, basically guaranteeing them an interview.

    Now, any guesses which students I went to bat for?

    Hopefully that illuminates two things about the job search:

    BUT

    • You’ve got to network in the right way – the humble way.

    Which means no:

    • Waiting until application season to reach out – you need to build relationships in advance; not at the last second.
    • Focusing all the attention on yourself – you need to build a real relationship; not just a transaction.
    • One shot networking – you need to build a relationship over time, not in a single phone call. This aids your job search.

    So consider yourself warned. Yes, humility is critical to your job search success. But don’t assume it’s going to be easy. Instead, make it a priority and work hard at it. And then you can avoid the biggest mistake that’s trapped so many others!

    Jeremy Schifeling, CEO of Break Into Tech

    Jeremy Schifeling, CEO of Break Into Tech

    Need more help networking and figuring out how to build great relationships on your way to finding a great entry-level job? College Recruiter can help. Keep reading our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Jeremy Schifeling is the Founder + Chief Nerd at Break into Tech, a site for anyone who wants to land an awesome tech job, no matter their background. Get a free guide to the seven ultimate secrets that took Jeremy from school to Silicon Valley!

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