Top 10 Job Search Mistakes Recent Grads Make

Whether you're applying for a part-time job, an internship, or your first full-time job, avoiding these common errors can help you land your dream job.

Last Updated: Apr 4, 2019

Whether you're applying for a part-time job, an internship, or your first full-time job, avoiding these common errors can help you land your dream job.

1. Applying to positions you’re not qualified for

The fact is, all the nailed interviews and glowing references in the world are not going to land you jobs that require degrees or experience you don’t have.

2. Expecting job opportunities to come to you

About 80% of available jobs go unadvertised, which means they won’t be posted on a job board or waiting for you to circle them in the classifieds. It’s up to you to hunt them down.

3. Not taking your job search seriously

You must devote time to the process. “It’s amazing how many students will study for 30 hours, but won’t spend more than three minutes posting a résumé to a job board,” says Steven Rothberg, founder of

4. Not doing your homework

According to a survey by Accountemps, 44% of corporate executives say student job seekers lack knowledge about their company. Know a company’s products/services, its main competitors, and the current issues it’s affected by.

5. Addressing items “To Whom It May Concern”

If a contact isn't listed in the job posting itself, call the company and ask for the name of the hiring manager or division head of your area of interest. That's the person you should be addressing your cover letter and other correspondence to.

6. Being too modest

Don’t be afraid to talk up everything you’ve accomplished. “The whole point of an interview is to explain why you should be hired,” says Brandi Baran, career services coordinator at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

7. Being overconfident

Though you want to share your accomplishments and your confidence in your ability to do this particular job, you don't want to appear full of yourself. A little humility can go a long way.

8. Not following up

You certainly don’t want to bug a company on a daily basis. But a phone call to find out the status of your application after sending a résumé or interviewing with an executive is perfectly acceptable.

9. Not presenting yourself professionally

That’s true not only in person, but on paper too. An address of “Kappa Kappa Gamma House” may not connote a professional job seeker. And if your e-mail address is something like, get a new one.

10. Being disorganized

Keep a log of each potential employer showing information on the company, when you applied, what materials you sent, follow-up calls you made, and when you met with them, if you did. 

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