Even job seekers with solid résumés and loads of experience can unknowingly make mistakes that keep them from landing their dream job.
There’s even more potential for peril among newer job seekers who may have just graduated school. According to Clint Hawkins, director of operations and head of tech recruiting for the HT Group, these newbies often don’t realize that they’re under a microscope through every step of the hiring process. As a result, they can trip up at unexpected moments.
“From the employer’s perspective, the way you conduct yourself, respond to interview questions, and even your writing style foreshadows the way you will work,” he said.
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Avoid these common pitfalls when hunting for a new position:
Only Considering Brand Name Companies
You don’t need to work for a big-name tech company such as Google or Facebook to have a bright future. Sure, a marquee company on your résumé can certainly help your career arc, but starting off at a lesser-known company with a small staff may actually provide better opportunities to acquire hands-on experience and make a name for yourself.
Don’t limit your options. Treat every interview as a learning opportunity and a chance to build your network. Regard every employer as a viable place to launch (or continue) a successful career in tech.
Speaking off the top of your head or using your résumé as a crib sheet is not an effective way to describe technical projects or experience during an interview. To tell a compelling, succinct story that emphasizes goals, obstacles, methodologies and outcomes, put your thoughts on paper well ahead of the interview, and make sure you have your story firmly in mind.
“Write out your project descriptions in long hand the night before,” Hawkins advised. “Then practice telling the stories over and over again until you get the wording just right.”
Dice previously called under-preparing for an interview the worst possible mistake any job seeker can make. Thorough preparation is a competitive advantage.
If you’re repeatedly asked the same questions by multiple interviewers, resist the temptation to shorten your answers or show exasperation as you progress. Yes, the hiring process for new grads can be excruciatingly arduous and long. But interviewers often ask the same questions to compare notes and make sure that a candidate’s answers are consistent. Therefore, it’s important to remain vigilant and ensure that every impression is as good as your first.
Overestimating Your Value
Don’t expect to score a huge starting salary just because you have a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree. “Typically, experience is the biggest driver of higher pay,” explained Jaime Vizzuett, division manager over Orange and San Diego counties for Workbridge Associates.
“Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes,” he added. “He or she is not going to pay $80,000 to someone with no work or internship experience. Building a portfolio of side projects and internships is the best way for new grads to boost their value and starting pay. But you still need realistic expectations.”
Failing to Differentiate Between Networking Sites
Showcasing your technical expertise on GitHub or Kaggle can garner the attention of hiring managers and promote your personal brand. But keep in mind that the audience and purpose of professional networking sites differs from socially-oriented sites such as Facebook and Snapchat; when it comes to the former, make sure to keep your tone and content relevant and professional, lest you make a bad impression.
Your primary goal is to nab a great job. That’s understood. But it’s the way you go about it that matters. In the business world, quid pro quo is a standard practice. Highlighting the value you could bring to the organization during an interview is the best way to have your own needs met.