4 Mistakes New Job Seekers Should Avoid

You finally made it. You walked across the stage, received your diploma and threw your hat in the air. Now what? If you’re like many recent graduates, it’s time to dive head-first into your first real job search. Are you ready?

The good news is employers are expected to hire 8.3 percent more new graduates this year. The bad news? In today’s competitive job market, job seekers need to be on their A-game at all times if they want to land a job.

Here are four mistakes that will keep you from maximizing your job search potential:

1. Thinking of your job search as 9-to-5.

Having a schedule for your job search can be a great way to keep yourself sane during a long job search, but a strict 9-to-5 job schedule can cause you to miss out on opportunities.

Think about splitting your job search into blocks at different times of the day/night to maximize your opportunities for finding new positions. Recruiters and hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes per position, and you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity just because you “clocked out” at 5 p.m.

You never know when a new job will be posted or how fast the position will be filled, so it’s important to always be ready. Set up alerts for the kind of jobs you’re looking for and always have a digital resume and cover letter template (to customize) ready to go so you can act quickly when a new opportunity becomes available.

2. You’re only looking for one or two job titles.

Job titles can be misleading. One company’s Account Executive might be another company’s Client Relations Manager, but their roles might be the same. If you’re only focusing your search on one or two job titles, you’re being close-minded, and you might be missing out on the job of your dreams.

When you’re setting up your job alerts or looking through job postings online, try searching for job responsibility keywords instead of titles, then narrow down the results on your own. Sure, you might have to spend more time flipping through postings you’re not really interested in, but it will be worth it when you find the job you’re looking for under a title you never would have considered.

3. You’re focusing too much on social media.

Social media has become a big part of today’s job search, but focusing too much on social media can take away from the real-life opportunities that will help you land a job. Research shows that, despite an increasing focus on social media as a candidate-sourcing tool, recruiters are still finding their best candidates through referrals.

Social media is a great way to locate new opportunities and make initial contact with the people that matter in an organization, but there’s still no substitute for good-old-fashioned networking. To truly maximize your job search potential, leverage social media opportunities into the kind of offline networking opportunities that can set you apart from the pack.

4. You’ve got your degree, you’re done learning.

Just because you have your degree and you’re job searching doesn’t mean you should stop learning. Employers want candidates who know the industry and can speak intelligently about the challenges their organization is facing in the market. If you focus 100 percent of your energy on finding a job and don’t keep up with the trends in the industry, you’re not maximizing your job search potential.

Similarly, if you’re not keeping your skills sharp, you don’t have a chance at landing a job that uses pre-hire assessments or workplace simulations. Take the time to comb through job descriptions for skills you can improve and commonly-used systems that you can learn, then get as many skills and systems certifications as you can. Doing so will help you stand out to recruiters and show that you’re invested in your own success.

What other job search mistakes have you seen recent graduates making? What is the best way to balance social media job search tools with traditional tools for success?