Oh, job searching, how do we hate thee? It’s the beast that haunts every 20-something. We’ve all been there — you know how great you are, but nobody seems to want to look at your resume OR you get an interview, but never hear back.
There is no point in sugar coating it — job hunting absolutely sucks.
What may start off as an exciting search for your next dream job too often turns into a hot mess of tears, hundreds of hopeless applications and automated emails starting with “Thank you for applying, however…”
What’s a 20-something to do? Every job is different, but here are a few ways you can make sure that you WON’T get the job you want.
1. Apply to every job in your field:
Say you want to work at a huge company, but you just graduated from college (or only have a few years of experience). You went to a great school, was fairly involved and have some solid work experience.
How will you get the recruiter to notice you? A common mistake many 20-somethings make in the job search is to rapid-fire apply to every entry level job in their field at the company they covet — the general idea being that companies will see the applicant’s enthusiasm to work there and want to hire him or her on the spot, right?
Look, this applicant is so eager to work here that he or she will do anything! Even the jobs that require less experience than he or she already has! As tempting as this may be (particularly in times of pure desperation, in your childhood bedroom, cruising job sites at 2 am), think carefully about the jobs to which you apply. Companies (and their recruiters) want to see that candidates have drive, that they have a goal in mind and that they are interested in a particular path with the company, not just a way to get in.
While rapid firing to jobs can seem like a good idea in theory, it is one of the quickest ways to get booted from the applicant field in job searches. It shows that you don’t care what you do and that you haven’t thought critically about your next career step — why would a company want to hire you? Even if you don’t really know what you want to do (and that’s okay), work to thoughtfully apply to jobs so that when companies review your resume, they can see identify your thought process.
2. Avoid answering questions about salary:
Congratulations! You finally got an interview for the job of your dream. You’ve breezed through the first few rounds of interviews but now comes the tricky part: they want to talk money. Salary discussions will always be a bit uncomfortable, but nothing will ever be as awkward as your first one. If you’re anything like me, you are probably shifting in your seat trying to think of the most tactful way to say “I will literally do this job for nothing.
I’m desperate.” But, it turns out that avoiding talks about salary can work against you in your job search. It’s natural to be hesitant here — you just graduated from college and aren’t sure about how much you should be asking, or maybe, you are nervous that voicing your salary expectations will work against you (is the other guy asking for less?).
Contrary to what your gut may be communicating, having confidence in your salary expectations shows that you believe in your value to the company. Low-balling yourself or being wishy-washy (“I mean, I’d like X but I’ll settle for less…”) shows your interviewers you don’t know what you’re talking about, or you don’t think you are worth the going rate.
Do your research (average salaries are simple to find on Google), come prepared and don’t be afraid to stand behind your expectations. Obviously, don’t go into your first job interview asking for a cool mill with the side of a company car, but don’t be afraid to assert yourself a bit. You’ve made it too far to work for minimum wage again.
3. Use the same resume for every job:
After you’ve applied to your 100th job, it can be tempting to start cutting corners. Are they even reading your resume? Do they even care how many internships you had in college? Don’t fall into the trap of using the same resume for every job application. This goes back to what we talked about above — using the same resume for every job application just makes it look like you don’t care.
Learn how to quickly and expertly tailor your resume to match up with job descriptions. Websites like Resunate can even tell you how well your resume matches up to your job posting. It’s extra work (and pretty tedious), but for the job of your dreams, it’s worth it in the long run.
4. Talk about how flawless your work experience has been:
When you interview, it goes without saying that you want to paint yourself in the best possible light, right? This means telling all of your best stories — you know, the ones when you saved the day, the one when you became your bosses favorite, the one when you were intern of the year. These are the kinds of stories that employers are looking for, right?
While it can be tempting to brag, everybody else is doing the same thing. Your interviewers know you’re great — that’s why they brought you in. But beyond that, they are trying to find out why you will make the company better. Even though it sounds crazy, don’t be afraid to talk about your mistakes in your interviews. Don’t stop there though, talk about what you did to fix them and what you learned from them.
This shows that you are flexible, honest and trustworthy — you won’t throw somebody on your team under the bus for making a mistake. Instead, you will be that awesome new employee who rolls up their sleeves and figures out how to make things better — who wouldn’t want that?
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