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Top 9 Mistakes Grads Make in Job Search

Job interview in a white office.

It happens to high school dropouts and college grads with four internships under their belt: companies seem to be handing out rejection notices like candy on Halloween. No matter how qualified you are for a position, there are a few job search mistakes which can seriously set you back. It may seem unfair and frustrating, but if you're looking for a job, you should take every step possible to help your case. Getting noticed at all is a big step, and beating out the competition is even tougher. Aol compiled a list of the top nine job search mistakes new graduates tend to make. Read our take below.

1. Emphasis on book learning over practical learning.

Many job experts agree that "entry level" doesn't mean today what it used to. Rather than viewing an entry-level candidate as someone to foster and develop into the ideal employee, companies prefer folks fresh out of college to have one to two years of experience in their chosen field. It may seem unreasonable and intensely frustrating, but there are many ways to gain experience during and after college and before prodding around for jobs.

Internships are a great way to build up professional experience since they tend to work well with school schedules. Look around for volunteer work that relates to your field, and get involved in related communities. These methods not only help buff up your résumé, they will expand your network and possibly connect you to better opportunities.

2. Over-emphasizing a single skill-set.

Jobs today are diversifying, and that means job applicants need to be well-rounded. Whatever your core skill is, think about effective ways of supplementing it with relevant, complimentary skills. First identify which skills are useful to have by reaching out to industry contacts or researching online, and then formulate a strategy to learn them. Sometimes you can broaden your skill-set through self-teaching, but you may need to take extra classes. Don't fret: rather than shoot for a degree, one or two extra classes won't overtax your schedule and will seriously improve your chances at employment if you're studying a subject that adds breadth to your résumé.

3. Not customizing your résumé and cover letter for each employer.

It's normal to use a template, but be absolutely certain that your résumé is tailored to each job you're applying to. Companies tend to use keyword search engines to pick out résumés, so if yours isn't tailored, it won't pop up. It may sound like a ton of work, but don't stress: the chances are you'll be applying to multiple positions that are very similar, in which case you'll have less revising to do the more you apply to those types of jobs.

4. Lacking knowledge of the company during the interview.

Not knowing anything about a company by the time you sit down with an interviewer is a surefire way to look incompetent or uninterested. Even if you only have one night to prepare, make sure you know what the company stands for, what its place is in its industry, and any other piece of information you can find. You don't have to memorize the names of every single employee beforehand, but at least know what the company produces and who its competition is.

5. Inappropriate attire.

If you've made it as far as an interview, you need to present yourself as professionally as possible. One good rule of thumb is to dress one step better than everyone else in the office with the best outfit being a suit and tie or a office-worthy skirt or dress. It's possible to be overdressed, but that is a smaller mis-step than under-dressing.

6. Unkempt and unflattering social media presence.

It doesn't matter how much you cherish that picture of your buddies scrawling over your drunken, blacked-out body with sharpies. If it's something you wouldn't want your boss to see, you should take it off social media. Websites like Twitter and Facebook may seem like separate institutions from work, but companies do care about your public image and the line is increasingly becoming blurred. If you show signs of being a loud and proud party animal, your chances at being hired will be severely impaired.  What you actually do in your free time is up to you, but you may want to keep your wilder side under wraps.

7. Lack of quality questions during an interview.

Not having any questions, let alone good questions, is a sign to employers that you don't care about the position or the company. Questions show curiosity, so you better have a few ready to fire off. The easiest way to do this is to research beforehand and think about aspects of the job, company, or industry that you're naturally curious about. Most importantly, don't ask things like "how much am I getting paid?" Questions about benefits and compensation, unless brought up by the interviewer first, will come across as crass and tactless.

8. Using your mobile device during an interview.

Pulling out your phone for any reason that doesn't immediately relate to the interviewer is a huge red flag. It's a flagrant display if disinterest and disrespect. The interviewer is putting aside their valuable time to meet with you, and it's important that you respect that commitment by matching it. Unless you're in a strangely dire situation, ignore texts and calls.

9. Not sending a thank you note after an interview.

Sending thank you notes has become more customary than in previous years. It's a way to remind the employer that you're still interested and that you appreciated their time. They don't have to be long or extravagant: just a few short sentences about how thankful you are and what you got out of the interview will do the job.

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