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Five common graduate jobseeking mistakes


Five common graduate jobseeking mistakes This summer sees a fresh crop of graduates entering the job market and competition is tough. With more students graduating than ever before, Michael Cheary at explains some of the most common mistakes made by graduate jobseekers, and how to avoid them.

For many new graduates entering the job market, finding their first professional role will seem like an almost impossible mountain to climb. However there are some simple mistakes graduate jobseekers can easily address to help perfect their job search:

1.      Apathy

After years of intense study, the last thing many graduates feel like doing is to start applying for jobs straight away. And while there’s nothing wrong with taking a break and making the most of your summer, it’s wise to try to avoid losing momentum.

Sometimes the hardest part of looking for a job is getting started.  Committing an hour or two a day can help keep up momentum and give you time to adapt your CV and cover letter to suit each role you apply for.

2.      Falling into a career

Having a career plan from the outset is key. However, you might find you need to take a job that doesn’t fit with this plan as a stop-gap. Getting a job to pay the bills is fine, but it can be all too easy to become comfortable with what you have only to find that you never really move on.

To combat this try setting yourself a deadline, after which you agree to dedicate yourself to the career you want, rather than continuing with your stop-gap position. That way you can not only plan for the move financially, but also avoid making more compromises than you’re comfortable with.

3.      Underestimating yourself

You will have gained a whole range of skills and experience at university and it’s important to make sure you don’t underestimate them. Think about what you have learnt both directly and indirectly from your degree that you can showcase to prospective employers. Whether you’ve gained your university skill-set through studies or societies, most students graduate with a wide range of experience and a surprising amount of knowledge.

Including references to a few of the more specific pieces of work you’ve done in your cover letter and use them to outline what makes you the ideal candidate will always win favour with recruiters.

4.      Unwillingness to start at the bottom

Although underestimating yourself is an undoubted pitfall, overestimating yourself can be just as damaging. Don’t miss out on the perfect position just because you’ll only settle for a ready-made career. 

Remember, your career is not a sprint finish. It’s all about starting in the right place, with the right people and within the right industry, while using your talent and connections to help you progress to the next level. It may well involve interning, work experience, or even studying for extra qualifications to take you to the next level. But in a few years’ time, your hard work and dedication will be well worth it.

5.      Not enough focus

When you’ve been studying a particularly broad subject or one which doesn’t seem to lend itself to a career as well as you’d hoped, it can be tempting to apply for any job you may feel qualified for (or even just any job with the word ‘Graduate’ in the title). Answering a question about your motives for applying for a position with ‘Because I really need the money’ is unlikely to impress.

To increase your chances of success, try and make your application as specific to the role as possible. Write down some specific job titles (no more than two or three) and initially apply for only those positions. That way you can not only demonstrate your passion for the position, but also exhibit the vital knowledge that could prove to be the difference come decision time.

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