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The Top 5 Mistakes College Seniors Make During the Job Search

Career Advice |

As a university career counselor, I often meet with seniors to discuss their job search process. As such, I’ve begun keeping a record of the most common job mistakes I see students make as they look for their first professional position. Don’t let these unfortunate blunders happen to you!

Being desperate.

With graduation (and student loan repayment) looming, it can be difficult not to take the first job—any job!—that is offered. However, accepting a job that doesn’t align with your interests, or working in an office culture you don’t enjoy, can quickly lead to bitterness and burnout. Take time and consider how each job lines up with your values, interests, skills, and personality before accepting an offer.

Not utilizing their university’s career services.

The career services department of your university is there to help you with resumes, cover letters, and interviewing—and most of these services are free to students, so why not use them? Make an appointment at the career center to have someone help you practice interviewing or assist you with resume edits. This may be the only time in your life that you have a staff of career counselors on hand to help you figure out what to do with your life—take advantage!

Having one resume for every job.

I believe in having a master resume that contains all of your work history, volunteer experience, education, etc. However, that resume should be edited for each job. Even if you apply for three positions that are similar in nature and responsibilities, you are probably applying at different companies (or at least different departments). Tailor each resume to the job for which you are applying—this means copying and pasting from that master resume to make sure that you’re including the most relevant experiences for each position.

Failing to research the organization.

When you interview for a position, there are two main ideas you want to illustrate: why you’re the best person for this job, and why you want to work for this company. In almost every interview, you’ll be asked the question, “Why do you want to work for us?” It’s important that you know major details about the organization—what they do, their mission and vision, the primary players—and be able to articulate these details in the interview.

Failing to use basic etiquette.

Thank you letters. A firm handshake. Looking someone in the eye. These are all basic rules of etiquette that we should be adhering to all the time, but that we absolutely must do during a job interview. Failing to send a thank you letter after a job interview can mean the difference between an offer or a rejection letter. Treating the administrative assistant rudely before you interview could kill your chances before you’ve ever said a word to the hiring committee. Manners matter—especially during an interview.

Are you prepared for your next interview? Is your resume job ready?

If you haven’t found your dream job already, check here!

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Begin the process of searching for a job EARLY…..opportunities could become available as internships leading into career employment or actual career employment. The summer before your Senior year would be an ideal time to do research and begin to submit resume'.


Definitely needed to read this - I'm prepping for graduation in May and am currently debating whether or not to apply for a 12-week summer internship. One of the reasons I'm on the fence is the fear of accepting the position (if I get it) just because it'll be the only opportunity I'll have offered (application deadline: Nov. 1, so I'm assuming that I'd find out pretty quickly). I definitely need to sit back and relax a little. Thanks for this (:

Candace Lamb

After helping countless friends, family, and random strangers edit their resumes and prepare for job interviews, Candace decided to pursue a career in—well, careers. A Southern girl, Candace graduated from the University of South Carolina Upstate with a degree in Non-Profit Administration and Women’s Studies. After this, Candace moved to Louisville, KY to pursue a Masters of Education. Candace currently works as Assistant Director of Career Services at Indiana University Bloomington where she instructs a career development course, Marketing Yourself for the Job Search. Candace also writes articles for her career blog, The Proactive Professional. In her spare time, Candace enjoys traveling, playing with her nephews and nieces, and being with AJ, her partner of four years.