Top Eight Mistakes College Grads Make in Their Job Hunt

New Survey Finds College Graduates Need to Do More Research, Mind Their Social Media Manners and Tell the Truth

With diplomas in one hand and resumes in the other, nearly 4 million college and graduate school students will apply for jobs this graduation season. To land a job, they will need to avoid the top eight mistakes many candidates make, according to a new survey of hiring managers conducted by Korn Ferry.

“Too many college graduates aren’t doing their homework. They’re not conducting enough research and, as a result, they’re walking into interviews unprepared,” said Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn Ferry and author of Lose the Resume, Land the Job“They think having a polished resume is enough, but it’s not even close.”

The survey found the common pitfalls many graduates are making in their recent interviews:

  • Dog Ate their Homework: Graduation day doesn’t mean that college grads are finished with homework assignments. Nearly two-thirds of hiring managers said the biggest mistake made by recent college grads was not adequately researching the company or the role for which they are applying.
  • Little White Lies: From lies to exaggerations, the second biggest problem cited by hiring managers (approximately one-third) was not telling the truth about their past experiences in the workplace.
  • Nothing to Share: The third most common mistake by college graduates was not having a story or anecdote to tell that brings the graduate’s experiences to life. “Telling stories about a past project or a recent achievement helps the graduates standout. This is what makes them memorable,” added Burnison.
  • Social Media Slip Ups: Eight out of 10 hiring managers confirmed they check the social media accounts of their potential new hires as part of the hiring process, according to this survey. Graduates should clean up their social media profiles and look at their external appearances from a professional lens.
  • Resume Overload: College graduates are too concerned about and reliant on their resumes. According to the survey, no hiring managers (0.32 percent) are focused on “the perfect resume.” “This survey underscores what I’ve always said, graduates need to lose the resume and focus on getting the job hunt right,” added Burnison.
  • On Time is Late: Punctuality matters and more than 15 percent of hiring managers said interview candidates showing up late was a problem.
  • Phone Checker: Hiring managers caution graduates to put the phone down, turn it off and put it away.
  • Fit Factor: The two most important considerations for hiring a college graduate candidate are cultural fit for the organization and presence in the job interview.

“College graduates need to do more than change from their cap and gown—or the grubby jeans and T-shirt they wore every day in college,” Burnison advised. “Transitioning to the workplace begins with taking control: being mentally prepared, knowing where they’d best fit, researching companies, and networking their way to make a connection.”


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