Job Interview Tips Job Search Tips

3 Entry-level Job Seeking Mistakes To Avoid

Written by Miranda Pennington

Here are the mistakes you don’t want to risk making as you prepare to enter the job-hunting fray for the first time.

1. Ignoring the Internet.

Ok, if you’re reading this, chances are you’re no stranger to letting the online world help you make heads or tails of the real world and the jobs it has to offer you. But don’t make the mistake of letting just one website dominate your job searching–cover your bases: TheJobNetwork, LinkedIn, Jobs, Monster, Idealist.Org, and the individual websites of companies you’re interested. Make profiles, keep your materials current, take advantage of their job alert tools. Curate your social media presence to put your best foot forward–online networking may come through Twitter or Facebook or even Tumblr, if you’ve kept your wits about you.

2. Failing to Create Targeted Resumes.

This is a big one. I’ve worked with dozens of recent college and graduate school students preparing for their first jobs outside of university or their hometown. Even if you strive tirelessly to polish your work experience and proofread with a fine-toothed comb, if you haven’t taken the time to close-read the job-posting and adapt your resume accordingly, you’re missing a major opportunity to showcase what a good fit you are. Every responsibility and accomplishment you represent on your resume should be supplying a requirement on the job posting. I have close to fifteen different resumes in my job search archives now, each closely tailored to suit a specific company’s needs.

3. Forgetting to Prepare for the Interview.

According to Holbrook Hernandez, many entry-level job seekers undervalue the interview process. My personal tip is to treat the interview like your own personal quiz show. Make a three-column chart:

Your experiences                What you learned from it                   How that aligns with a requirement

There are books and websites full of frequently asked interview questions, but what you need to prepare for, more than the questions, are your answers. What can you take credit for? What has it taught you? What will it empower you to do as X company’s newest hire? Practice with friends and family until you are poised and professional no matter what is asked of you.

Polish your physical presentation too, and you’ll have avoided the all of the biggest stumbling blocks a newbie encounters en route to their very first job.

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.