It’s rare for me to agree completely with job search advice that I find online, but I think I may have found that one person whose suggestions make complete sense to me. Mark O’Toole is not a career counselor or a recruiter; he’s the managing director of public relations and content marketing at HB agency, a business-to-business marketing and communications company, and he’s hired lots of people over the course of his career. In a series of slides (which is a clever way to get people to actually read what he has written), he has laid out his “11 Reasons Graduates Lose Out on Jobs.”
I’ll give you the abbreviated version of those reasons here, but do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to actually look at what Mr. O’Toole has to say. He does it elegantly, persuasively, and concisely, and I couldn’t say it better myself.
- Your resume is too long (or too short). Tip 38 and Appendix H in my book can help you create a good resume.
- You didn’t come to the interview prepared. Tips 42-47 and Appendices A, J, and K can help you prepare.
- You didn’t ask good questions at the interview. Appendix A provides a list of possible questions, and you’ll also find ideas about how to formulate other questions in Tips 6, 13, 42 and Appendix C.
- You didn’t send a thank you note after the interview. . .or if you did, it just said “thank you.” O’Toole provides some excellent advice here about what to say in the thank you note, which complements what I say in Tips 6 and 42.
- You didn’t dress professionally. Appendix K (Dressing for the interview), should keep you from making this mistake!
- You didn’t focus on the job. To me, this is really part of preparing for the interview—you should understand as much as you can about the specific job you have applied for and the company you want to work for. Tip 42 helps you with this type of preparation.
- You overstate your experience with social media. Although I don’t talk about this specifically in my book, O’Toole makes an excellent point. Having sent a few tweets or having hundreds of friends on Facebook does not make you a social media guru.
- Your resume had typos! I cannot stress strongly enough that anything you write and submit to a prospective employer CANNOT have typographical errors. That includes the application form, cover letter, resume, and (where applicable) writing samples. If you’re not good at proofreading your own work (and most of us aren’t), get someone else to proofread it for you.
- You don’t have a profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has become very important in the world of work, and you should learn as much as you can about how to use it to your advantage. Appendix F (Creating your profile on LinkedIn), is a good place to start.
- You didn’t do an internship. As I tell all my students (and anyone else who will listen), employers will take someone with internship experience over another equally skilled applicant without that internship every time. Tips 2 and 5 talk more about the value of internships.
- You were unprofessional. O’Toole includes not knowing how to shake hands, not making eye contact, not demonstrating interest in the people you meet, and being late in this point. There are lots of ways to be “unprofessional,” but all of the Tips in my Step 5 (Prepare for the application process) can help make sure that you know how to behave professionally.