Study Finds Common Job Hunting Mistakes Among Recent College Graduates

Young employees goofing off at work

May 24, 2012

It's that time of the year again--college graduates around the country are celebrating their final days as students before heading out into the real world. According to U.S. News & World Report, some 2 million fresh grads will be entering the workforce and although employers plan to hire more graduates this year than last, 20- to 24-year-olds will still face some stiff competition as the unemployment rate for this demographic is 13.2 percent. However, according to a study, many new grads may not land a job because of a few common mistakes.

As reported by Life Inc., the 2012 Professionalism in the Workplace Study, conducted by The Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania, found that 39.9 percent of young job seekers did not dress appropriately for a job interview, 29.1 percent showed up late for an interview and 25.9 percent did not prepare for the interview by researching the company. U.S. News also noted that more than 11 percent of new graduates send text messages or use their phones during interviews.

"Recent graduates might be dreading the job market, but if they know the common mistakes people their age are making, they can hopefully avoid some job-hunting pitfalls," said Josh Tolan, CEO of Spark Hire, to Life Inc.

For instance, Larry Chiagouris, a professor of marketing at Pace University's Lubin School of Business, pointed out that when it comes to job hunting, new grads do not spend enough time networking and tend to rely too heavily on job boards.

"What many students do is they fool themselves into thinking that spending 15 or 30 minutes a day searching on job boards and clicking on job to submit a resume will result in a job. Fewer than 5 percent of jobs are obtained from the use of job boards," he explained in Life Inc.

U.S. News also pointed out this blunder, adding that networking is more than using technology or social networks such as Facebook. For instance, new grads should utilize the connections they have through professional networks (internships or from previous jobs), groups of people with the same interests (friends from the gym or team members from a sport they play) or people from their local community.

Another mistake that grads often do is having a sense of entitlement or poor work ethic. As U.S. News pointed out, the study showed that 27 percent of managers said young employees with a sense of entitlement were the biggest managerial headaches and 23 percent of new hires had a poor work ethic.

The most unusual, but still costly, mistake that young people often do is involving their parents in the job hunt.

"I am hearing of employers who refuse to hire another recent graduate because they have encountered too many with parents who are overly involved," said Tim Elmore, president of the non-profit organization Growing Leaders, to Life Inc. "Parents are accompanying their kids on interviews, delivering their resumes and negotiating salary."

The Professionalism in the Workplace Study is an annual study that examines the state and definitions of professionalism. This year, 309 HR professionals were surveyed as well as 312 managers and supervisors.

Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin


"2012 Professionalism in the Workplace Study,", January 2012, Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania

"Biggest mistakes made by job-hunting grads,", May 23, 2012, Eve Tahmincioglu

"How to Graduate From College and Go Precisely Nowhere,", May 24, 2012, Rick Newman

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