There are a lot of ways to mess up the job hunt, and someday I’ll write about the most creative ways I’ve seen people blow it. But a few common mistakes deserve special mention both because they’re easy to avoid and because the opposites of these mistakes are high value-add.
Mistake One: Not Using Career Centers
I always take references seriously–especially from Career Centers and professors. Knowing that campus career centers are a permanent link between the school and the company, you’d think more students would take advantage. But based on my experience around the Midwest, less than half of all graduating students use their career center at all. I wonder why this is? I suspect it’s equal parts ignorance, laziness, and preconceived notions.
The best reason to use a career center: they’re staffed with trained professionals, and their job is to help you get a job.
They may be hard to find, tucked away in the basement of a never-visited administrative building. They may be far out of your way, on the east side of campus accessible only by shuttle. It’s worth the trip. Many modern career centers are decked out better than the swankiest corporate board rooms, with video conferencing, practice interview rooms, employer lounges, and even one-way mirrors. (Aside: I just learned that a one-way mirror is the same as a two-way mirror.)
Gone are the career centers with nothing more than an aging library of job selection books and personality tests, maintained by one person who is more librarian than career counselor. Today you’ll find interview practice aids, resume workshops, industry panels, and corporate field trips–all facilitated by career services. The people who work there meet with every recruiting employer, collecting as much information as they can, and will readily pass it along to any student who asks. And who knows? If you impress them, you just may get a reference out of it.