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by Andrew Fennell | February 28, 2023


When you’re new to the job search, it’s all too easy to make mistakes. However, if you take some time to prepare carefully, you’ll increase your chances of success and will be able to land a job much quicker. So, here are five common mistakes you need to avoid when preparing for your first job hunt.

1. Not making the most of career guidance resources

Most, if not all, colleges will have career guidance offices on campus, where you’ll have access to useful resources, including a dedicated career counselor. Not using these resources during your studies is a huge mistake. So, if you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to seek some advice regarding your career before graduation day rolls around. These guidance counselors can help you with networking ideas, job opportunities, creating your resume, and answering any questions about joining the working world. Don’t let these great resources go to waste.

2. Not taking time to carefully craft your resume

If you’ve never really had to create a resume before, it can be tricky to know where to start. This document is your first impression, your introduction to hiring managers and potential employers. It’s going to be the key to job-hunting success, so you need to get it right. Some of the most common resume pitfalls you need to avoid include:

  • Poor spelling and grammar
  • Writing and sending a generic application
  • Lying or making unsubstantiated claims
  • Making your resume too long
  • Not including an objective

Along with avoiding the above, spend some time selecting your most impressive achievements and any figures you have to back these up. It’s important to understand how to tailor each application for each job and company, and essential to always proofread your resume several times before submitting it.

Getting your resume right early on can make your job search far less stressful. So, take the time to perfect it. If you don’t know where to start, use templates and guides online to help, or get in touch with your college guidance counselor as mentioned above.

3. Not actively seeking work experience

As a college graduate, having absolutely no work experience on your resume is a mistake. Of course, the easiest way to gain experience is securing an internship before you officially graduate, either during the summer months or during the school year. It’s no surprise that internships are particularly beneficial to the full-time job search, as more than two in three interns secure full-time jobs after their internships are over.

There are lots of other ways to gain experience even without an impressive internship. For example, you could volunteer in your local community or include the part-time or weekend job you had during your studies. You might not think being a barista at Starbucks is all that relevant, but it will give you some transferable skills and possible achievements to shout about.

4. Not being prepared for interviews

When you start job hunting, one of the most exciting but equally nerve-wracking moments is getting invited in for an interview. And if you’ve not taken the time to prepare, it will be even more stressful.  As such, it’s a good idea to study up on some of the most common job interview questions and the best ways to answer them. You can even practice out loud how you’d answer the questions in an interview. That way, when the time comes, you’ll feel much more confident, and you’ll increase your chances of being invited back in for a second interview.

5. Not networking

Finally, building up a professional network is important throughout your career, particularly as you graduate and prepare to join the working world. There are lots of ways you can do this, and some of the most effective include using professional platforms like LinkedIn. Also, you should start attending careers fairs and industry events to get your name out there and look out for exciting opportunities. You can find out about these events from your careers guidance office at college.

Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of StandOut CV, a leading CV builder and careers advice website. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.