If you are a recent college graduate, you may feel quite intimidated by the prospect of finding work. This is something that Larry Polhill can help with, however. He knows that there is a lot of fear out there: fear that there are no jobs, fear that companies will always pick those with years of experience. Those fears are based on some truths but, according to Polhill, the main reason why graduates don’t get work is not because of the lack of positions or the strength of the competition. It is not even because they set their sights too high, for instance by applying for the position of Director of Investors at APFC with zero work experience. Rather, he believes that graduates make three mistakes and that these mistakes can easily be avoided.
Larry Polhill on the Three Big Mistakes
Not being ready for an interview.
Most people feel as if they know about going through an interview. They feel that there can’t be that much difference between an interview for a cleaning position at McDonald’s and a position as President of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). They believe that interviews ask the same things, so preparation is only needed once. This is completely wrong. For each interview you are offered, you should research:
- The company.
- The role.
- What you should wear.
- What attitude is expected of you.
- Who will take you to which person.
- Which references they have asked for.
You need to prepare yourself by immersing yourself into the company. Get to know their culture and their mission and vision. In so doing, you will also be ready to conduct yourself properly during the interview. Making a good impression will also open high salary opportunities to you when employers see your potential.
Not using networking opportunities
Every opportunity is a networking opportunity. Anyone who is in work could be a future colleague. This includes your fellow students and faculty, your parents, the cashier in the 7/11 down the road. Your neighbors, and anyone else. You need to speak to people and ask about what they do, while telling them what you do and what you are looking for as well. You would be surprised at how many positions are still filled by who you know, rather than what you know, so make sure you know the right people in the right places.
Not having a strong resume
The last big mistake people make is not having a good resume. They believe that their degree, obtained from a prestigious university with a high GPA, will speak for itself. Graduates list the same things over and over again: their GPA, their class load, and their internship. Naturally, these things are very important. However, listing those in a boring manner will not make you stand out from the hundreds of other people – graduates and people with many years’ work experience – who have also applied for the job. Your resume, and preferably your cover letter as well, is an opportunity to sell yourself, showing why you are the perfect candidate.