As they say, “It’s a jungle out there.” A job search, particularly for the very first job after graduating college, is a tough adventure. If you are in search of your first “real” job and have said or thought any of these common excuses, listen up and learn. If you’re the frustrated parent or mentor of a new job seeker, pay attention, too. Get ready to debunk the obstacles to finding a meaningful first employment opportunity.
Delaying the Search
- “I don’t know what I want to do yet.” Most people had no idea what interested them until, surprise! - an entry level job opened their eyes. Entry level jobs are fertile places to learn about employers, industries and organizational cultures.
- “I’ve got the wrong major.” You are not alone. Many experienced workers will tell you that their “whatever” degree only got them in the door. For most jobs in today’s economy, any major will do if you present yourself as smart, easily coachable and a lifelong learner. Opportunity abounds if you only look for it and put your efforts into the work of your employer.
- “I was online all day posting to job sites.” Online isn’t a job search. It’s a needle-in-a-haystack approach to finding work. Hundreds, even thousands, of resumes can be submitted for one entry-level job. To make matters worse, most resumes are electronically screened before a recruiter even glances at those that make the first cut. If you want a company to hire you, do your homework and contact a live person there who will talk with you.
- “The campus career center doesn’t know what they’re doing.” Yes, that may be true. Yet, career centers offer many resources that can help you develop research, networking and interview skills if you take advantage of them. Many also include job fairs and on-site meetings that can put you face-to-face with potential employers.
- “Everyone says I need to network to find a new job. I don’t want to bother people.” Anyone who has gotten anywhere in life networked, so you may as well start now. It wasn’t necessarily called networking “way back then” but it was networking nevertheless. Then, as now, an uncle or aunt, a neighbor or close family friend stepped in to make introductions which led to opportunities. It is that simple.
- “I’m only applying at the big employers that everyone wants to work for.” Everyone else is applying there, too. Go where everyone else isn’t. Check out small, growing companies where you can make an impact. Apple, Facebook, McDonald’s, Walmart were all small companies once upon a time. The people who joined early on and weathered the ups and downs grew wealthy over time.
- “My dad said I should stay in touch with the folks I networked with by sending a regular group email about my job search progress, but I don’t want to appear to be pushy.” Do not confuse pushy with rude. Of course, you would never be rude. The people who take the time to make introductions, talk with you or offer resources want to know their time was well spent. They know, and now you do too, that employers need people who take the initiative to get things done.
Fumbling the Interview
- “They told me they’d let me know…” Employers look for interested candidates, not wait-and-see types. Demonstrate initiative by calling or emailing after conversations and interviews. You can wait a long time, maybe forever, if you wait for the busy HR recruiter or hiring manager to call you.
- “I’ve sent him three emails and he hasn’t gotten back to me.” This excuse is dangerously close to whining. Ask anyone working today and they are likely to say, “I have ten thousand unopened emails. I’m overwhelmed with information.” Pick up the phone and call. It’s still the best way to get someone’s attention.
- “No, I didn’t tell them I was excited about the prospect of working for them. Don’t they know that already?” No, they don’t. They’re not mind readers. If you want the job -tell them with enthusiasm and sincerity. And then, tell them again.
- “I forgot to research the company.” Let’s hope this is never said aloud. Most recent graduates have spent their lives online and it is as natural to them to search online as it is to brush teeth. Forgetting to investigate a potential employer is not an option. Period.
Blocking the Offer
- “Work in manufacturing? No way, I want to change the world.” You can change the world in manufacturing. Ask the innovators who brought robotics to shop floors. Ask manufacturers who give back to their communities and the greater good by employing workers. You can have an impact, too. Become a supervisor who creates a great work environment, encourages people and enriches lives. That is changing the world.
- “I’ve got two internships and a degree, I deserve more money than they’re offering.” This argument can work in some cases. But you need to know the average starting salary for the type of work, industry and location before you start negotiating or declining an offer. Saying no or holding out too long for the job that pays you what you think you’re worth may prevent you from getting experience that can pay dividends later.
- “It isn’t my dream job, so I’m not accepting the offer.” It is fair to say that not every job offer will be the one for you. And if the reasons for rejecting an offer are concrete, that is one thing. The myth of a “dream job” has caused more than a few candidates to miss real opportunities to build knowledge, skill and experience that are invaluable later in a career. Only through real work experience will you learn what the perfect job for you will be.
Dise & Company can help. We feel so strongly that millennials are missing out on great employment that we created a Boot Camp especially designed to meet the concerns of millennial job seekers. This valuable workshop confronts the myths and offers practical tips for charting a job search that results in a first job that lays the foundation of success.
Learn more about the 2017 Job Search Boot Camp here.