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Leicester and Loughborough Students searching for their first job

Article writen by: Beth
08 December 2022

Four mistakes students and graduates make when searching for their first job

As the safety net of university halls and a rigid timetable of lectures is stripped away, you’re suddenly left to your own devices as you enter the world of work. It’s a daunting prospect, and it’s probably the first time in your life that you’re applying for full-time roles. Unfortunately, the perfect job is unlikely to come knocking on your door. 

Being in the job market can be demoralising for anyone, let alone graduates just looking to find their way – the truth is that there are a lot of people with the same level of qualifications, all looking for entry level positions. It requires a certain level of resilience, with negative responses being far more common than positive ones. 

Even if you’ve received advice from tutors and family members, everyone will make mistakes during their hunt for a graduate role. However, being aware of some of the most common ones will hopefully help you get a head start on this daunting, yet exciting, time in your life.

Comparing yourself to your peers

Everyone progresses in their careers at different paces, and it’s common for people to follow different paths – even after having gained similar qualifications. It’s human nature to compare yourself to others, but this ultimately is an exercise in futility. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking everyone else is progressing faster than you, or earning more money, but this can ultimately affect your wellbeing and motivation when searching for work. 

Everyone’s situations are different, and there are various factors that impact upon an individual’s ability to get moving in their career. Though it’s easier said than done, try using any of your friends’ successes as motivators, and ask for advice to see how they managed to navigate the job market. Constantly drawing negative comparisons with friends can ultimately lead to feelings of resentment, so give yourself a break and don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you’re falling behind. It’s imperative for both your search for work, and your mental health.

Using the same CV 

As you enter into the seemingly endless cycle of drafting a new CV and cover letter for every role you apply for, it’s easy to lose motivation and begin to cut a few corners. However, sending identical applications to different employers will only make it harder for you to take the first steps in your career. 

A recent report found that student employers received on average 91 applications for each advertised vacancy. With this in mind, it’s crucial that you do all you can to stand out from your competition, and fine-tuning your CV is a great way to do just that.

Not asking for feedback 

It takes a lot of maturity to follow up on applications after being rejected to find out exactly why you weren’t right for the role. Constantly receiving rejection letters takes enough of a toll on our mental wellbeing without being told explicitly about the areas we need to improve upon. However, try and take a more long-term view of the situation, and follow up on any negative responses. 

If employers are willing to help you out, they will provide you with valuable information that you can take away and apply to your future applications. Whether there’s a skill missing from your CV, or perhaps you were lacking in your interview technique, any feedback that you can work on will give you a better chance at succeeding next time round. 

Being overly fussy 

By all means, you should be paying close attention to those dream graduate roles as and when the opportunities arise. But chances are the perfect job won’t come up too often, and in the meantime, you should be casting your net a little wider. You have your whole career ahead of you, and it’s likely that you’ll change roles and even industries multiple times along the way.

According to one survey, only 14% of workers believe that they have found their dream job, so it’s unlikely that you’re going to get it right the first time round. Set up alerts for those ideal roles, but don’t discount the ones that could set you on the right path towards that perfect job further down the line. Gaining any sort of experience in a full-time role will be beneficial at this stage in your career.