I graduated from the University of Oregon with a packed resume in 2011, including five internships, and figured all my career dreams would fall into place with ease. But after sending out resumes and cover letters for six months, I landed only two phone interviews.
My positive spirit was slowly crushed and as the weeks and months passed, I realized my dream job simply wasn’t coming to fruition. For most of 2012, I was a waitress to pay the bills.
My plan was to work part-time while I continued to pursue my career goals on the side. However, as months passed, I got so burnt out that I put my career search on hiatus.
In 2013, I re-evaluated my job search tactics. I knew I had a great resume for a recent graduate, so what was I doing wrong?
It turns out my biggest mistake had been my approach to my job search. Don’t do these four things when looking for work:
Confidence is a great quality, but you have to maintain a sense of realism. I wasted my time applying for jobs I wasn’t qualified for. It’s an employers market right now, and if a job posting asks for five years of experience, you can bet that’s the minimum required.
Forget Your Online Presence
I was applying for positions that had a social media component, yet I wasn’t engaging in my own accounts – that doesn’t leave a great impression! I hadn’t even listed my college graduation on my LinkedIn profile, let alone all the internships I had completed. My blog hadn’t been updated in nearly a year; it had broken links, and a two-year old resume in the portfolio section. Make sure your online presence is in tip-top shape before you even send out that first resume.
I knew I should be networking, but it sounded uncomfortable and so I never even tried. I didn’t request an informational interview or attend any networking events, and obviously wasn’t meeting anyone on LinkedIn or Twitter. At the time, I thought I could just skip over this step. I was so confident my dream job would be around the corner, why do something that was intimidating?
Apply Only to Online Job Postings
As a result of the mistakes mentioned above, I only applied to online postings. I had four to five places I would look every week, and that’s it. The problem with this tactic is that 200+ other individuals are applying for those jobs too! In today’s market, only 80% of jobs are ever posted, and a handful of those are already filled with in-house candidates so a posting is often just a legal requirement. This is why networking is so important.
In my next four posts, I’ll share insights I’ve gained over the past few months that can alleviate some of the job search struggle you may be encountering.
What have you learned the hard way during your search for that dream job?
(Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared on The University of Oregon’s Career Center blog.)