10 mistakes every first-time job seeker makes

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Young businessman holding sign Need Job outdoorsThere’s a lot that first-time job seekers bring to the table. They’re often eager and enthusiastic, technologically-savvy and up-to-date on the latest skills and trends in their desired field.

Yet there is still a lot that new job seekers have to learn when it comes to mastering the job search. Here, experts weigh in on 10 mistakes many first-time job seekers make and how these errors can be avoided:

1. Putting too much weight on their GPA. “[A mistake first-time job seekers make is] believing that high academics is the most important factor in finding a job,” says Stephanie Kinkaid, program coordinator for the Wackerle Career and Leadership Center at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Ill. “Graduates need leadership qualities and the ability to articulate how those experiences have created a well-rounded individual.”

2. Not doing enough research. “Many times, job seekers don’t realize the importance in conducting research,” says Debra Ann Matthews, professional résumé writer and certified career coach. “Learn about how to obtain a job … Go to the library and read about job-search tools. Go to your local career center and see what they have to offer. Then take your inquiry a step further — see if these same institutions have social media services.”

3. Not staying up-to-date on industry trends. “Graduates should do research not only on the company to which they are applying, but about the field in general,” Kinkaid says. “[For instance,] if you are entering the medical field, you should be knowledgeable about the Affordable Care Act, how politics affect medicine and social issues.”

4. Only considering full-time jobs. “First-time job seekers devalue the benefits of temp and short term and placement services,” Matthews says. “Temp jobs … can be of value to a job seeker by giving that job seeker work experience in various tasks. Many temp agencies will offer computer-based trainings that can be learned and applied to résumés and used by job seekers to leverage their job search in a more strategic manner.”

5. Focusing only on jobs related to their degree. Dylan Schweitzer, group talent acquisition manager for Enterprise Holdings, says that new job seekers often think they can only work in a field directly related to their major and only apply to jobs in one specific industry. “You major in what you are interested in learning more about, but that doesn’t pigeonhole you into one type of opportunity.”

6. Making the interview about them, not the employer. “Job seekers who spend their initial interview talking about why they need a job, how much they want some company benefit, etc. instead of talking about how they will solve problems for the company and bring value are ensuring they will not be asked back for second interviews or hiring,” says Karen Southall Watts, consultant, coach and speaker. “Everyone is well aware of the fact that people need jobs. Hiring managers want to know why, of all the needy, worthy candidates, they should hire you.”

7. Dressing inappropriately in professional settings. “Often, first-time job seekers have not been exposed to work-appropriate attire,” says Lindsay Witcher, manager of practice development at RiseSmart, which provides next-generation enterprise career management solutions. “How you dress directly affects how people perceive you and whether or not they will take you seriously. For this reason, make sure you are dressed professionally when networking and interviewing. If you aren’t sure what is appropriate, ask for the opinions of a few people you trust who have a few years of successful professional experience under their belt.”

8. Being unenthusiastic. “Enthusiasm is critical to being considered for a position,” Witcher says. “If you appear bored or as if you have something better to do while interviewing or networking, hiring managers will not consider you as a viable candidate. Show enthusiasm not only through your conversation, but through your knowledge about the company and your interest in the position.”

9. Focusing on salary. “Young professionals often fail to look at the big picture when deciding whether or not to take a position and instead focus too much on the salary,” says Chaz Pitts-Kyser, speaker on career/life topics for young professionals and author of “Embracing the Real World: The Black Woman’s Guide to Life After College.” “But how happy will they be with what seems to be a great salary if their benefits are measly, the commute gives them a headache or their workload is insane? Everything about a company and what it offers and does not offer should be taken into consideration prior to accepting or rejecting a job offer.”

10. Knowingly taking the wrong job. “Times are hard, and it’s not always wise to hold out for the perfect job,” Watts says. “However, when you get that sinking feeling, and you know a position is a poor match for your skills or temperament, you are wise to pass. When in doubt, discuss with a mentor before making irreversible decisions.”

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