Launching yourself into the professional world can be confounding and confusing. Composing résumés and cover letters mixed with filling out every variety of online application form can easily become a full-time job. For young professionals these can be incredibly daunting tasks all by themselves, but it’s worth remembering to keep focused on these five things that can hold you back.
A lack of relevance
Meet with me about your résumé or cover letter and you will hear the word “relevance” at least twice. Young job seekers come with a variety of experiences, and it falls on you to let the employer know how you are able to do their job based on your past experiences, knowledge, and skills. Be aware of occupation-specific jargon that will catch their eye and incorporate it in a meaningful way. Whether you want to be an accountant, a social worker, or a nurse, you need to start to talk like one.
An unsavory online presence
Or no online presence. In this era dominated by social media, you must take control of your online persona. Many employers will not call a candidate for an interview without first checking their online presence—and savvy hiring managers know how to find you. What photos are you tagged in? What tweets are hanging out there for the world to see? Most importantly, does your online content reflect the professional you seek to become? Take charge of your online presence and make it a positive reflection of who you are.
An inability to connect with others
Human beings are social creatures, so the ability to connect with others can make or break your job search. Good professional connections can open doors for you in a variety of ways, whereas bad ones can spell disaster (or at least frustration). Do not miss out on ways to meet new people and, when you do, learn how to keep the conversation going. Networking is like gardening, and you cannot plant the apple seed and expect fruit the next day. You need to give it time and attention before you see results.
A desire for instant gratification
Be patient with your job process because it will take time. It will take days or weeks before your application is reviewed, so do not stress out. Instead of waiting for an e-mail or for your phone to ring, use the time productively by expanding your search or building your skillset. When the right opportunity calls you will feel empowered by all that you have done, so start searching early and be persistent.
A lack of professionalism
Professionalism can take many forms depending on the industry or occupation, but a common thread is conscientiousness of others. The job search process is riddled with tests of your professionalism to determine if you conduct yourself appropriately regardless of the setting. Don’t assume that the receptionist who greeted you, or the waiter who served you at the lunch meeting, does not have a say in your candidacy. Every e-mail that you send and phone call that you make may be used to determine if you are the right fit for the organization. Be courteous, polite, and professional throughout the process.
Erik Pavesic is currently working within Career Development at Plymouth State University. In addition to helping students with career-readiness and job preparation, Erik enjoys being the University’s self-proclaimed resident “Career Geek”—voraciously taking in all the current trends, needs, and issues facing personal career development. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.