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Posted June 25, 2016 by

The #1 student job search mistake

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!

Posted December 31, 2014 by

Didn’t Land a New Job in 2014? Correct These Mistakes for the New Year

If you did not get an entry level job or other position of employment this year, then chances are your job search was missing something.  What could you have done wrong that turned employers off from you as a job candidate?  What could you have done differently that would have left them with a more favorable impression of you?  That is what you need to figure out going into the new year.  Here are some mistakes that may have kept you from getting hired in 2014. (more…)

Posted September 18, 2014 by

Grads, Are Your Searches for Entry Level Jobs Taking Longer than Expected? Eliminate These 30 Mistakes

Graduates who believe their searches for entry level jobs are taking more time than they expected might be hurting themselves.  Learn 30 mistakes they should eliminate in the following post.

As many have discovered, effective job search methods have changed substantially in the last few years – and it can be hard to leave behind the job search techniques that used to work, but don’t in our current economy. You can, however, control what you do – and how you are spending your valuable time. And that means eliminating

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Posted August 27, 2014 by

Entry Level Job Seekers, Don’t Damage Your Personal Brand by Misspelling These 10 Words

Entry level job seekers looking to make the right first impression in their job searches must avoid misspelling these 10 words from an infographic in the following post.

A fun post that will (hopefully) make you smile on a Monday morning? Yes. At the same time, this infographic from The Oatmeal is a reminder of some all-too-common typos we (almost all of us!) overlook, every day. And ones recruiters will tell you that they see

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Posted August 26, 2014 by

5 Mistakes to Be Wary of in Your Entry Level Job Search

Finding an entry level job takes some work, so you don’t want to be careless in your job search.  Here are five mistakes to be careful of in the following post.

From time to time job seekers discuss with me the difficulties they face in finding a job, or getting interviews. Most times I empathize with these individuals because the job search process can take a toll on anyone; people get into panic mode, and all rational thinking goes through the window. And mistakes are made, like these:

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Posted May 28, 2014 by

New to Searching for Recent Graduate Jobs? Avoid Hurting Yourself by Making These 9 Mistakes

For new grads entering the workforce, keep in mind that any little flaw can cost you in your search for recent graduate jobs.  In the following post, learn nine mistakes to avoid so that you don’t hurt your employment chances.

Your first “real” job search (as a newly-minted young professional) is quite a learning experience. So many options; so little time! You can’t wait to hear those magic words: “You’re hired”. You don’t want to make job search mistakes that will extend your job search. But, you may not be clear on exactly what to

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Posted February 10, 2014 by

Searching for Entry Level Jobs Online? 12 Mistakes to Avoid

If you’re conducting a search online for entry level jobs, the following post warns you of 12 mistakes to avoid.

Some job search mistakes are extremely common. Unfortunately, they cost job seekers opportunities they may otherwise have had, and extend their job search by weeks or even months. Avoid these 12 common online job search mistakes, which I call the “Dirty Dozen”:

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Posted December 17, 2013 by

Having Trouble with Your Entry Level Job Search? 7 Reasons It’s More Difficult

Making too many mistakes will hurt your entry level job search.  In the following post, learn seven reasons why employment can be more difficult to obtain.

Finding a new job today requires much more creativity and initiative than in the past. Unfortunately, many job seekers are trying to apply what worked in the past in a new set of circumstances. Much (certainly not all) of their delay in landing that next position is self-inflicted; they are making the job search even

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Posted September 11, 2013 by

Want an Entry Level Job? 10 Mistakes You Should Avoid

To land an entry level job, it is important not to hurt your chances by making costly mistakes.  Learn 10 of them to avoid in the following post.

Career Coach and Author Ford R. Myers Highlights 10 Little-known but Deadly Mistakes That Can Stop a Job Search Dead in its Tracks! Many people make significant job search mistakes and never even realize it. These blunders are easy to make … and they can end up costing you thousands of

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Posted December 17, 2012 by

5 Mistakes To Avoid During Your Job Search

CollegeRecruiter.comAre you an entry level job seeker or someone changing jobs?  The following post identifies mistakes not to make in your job search.

When it comes to searching for a job, most people think sending out a hundred resumes a week and/or networking with everyone they know are effective strategies to land a new job. Little do they know, those efforts can actually prevent them from finding a job. From launching an unfocused search to not taking advantage of LinkedIn, here’s a look at five mistakes job seekers often make:

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5 Mistakes To Avoid During Your Job Search