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Career Corner: Avoiding Early Career Pitfalls

As new graduates begin seeking jobs, it’s important they avoid common pitfalls. – Courtesy photo / Amtec Staffing (CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Angela Copeland

The summer is an exciting time for young job seekers. A new group of graduates has just been minted and are searching for their first full-time job but, there are many pitfalls you may encounter along the way. Here are a few suggestions to help you in your search:

-Don’t let your parents get involved in your job search.

At the most, your parents should be providing you one-on-one guidance from the comfort of your home. Beyond that, it’s too much. Mom or dad should not be applying to jobs for you. They should not be perfecting your resume. They should not be editing your LinkedIn profile. They should not attend an interview with you. And, they definitely should not ever negotiate your salary for you. I get it. Your parents have been there and done that but, in the professional world, getting your parents involved in a major faux pas. If you want to find a job, now is the time to talk to your parents. If an employer gets even a whiff of them through the interview process, it’s likely that you will be tossed out of the candidate pool.

-Sharpen your online image. 

Employers will look at more than your resume. Right or wrong, they will look at your social media. Get in there and be sure you would be comfortable with the content. Reduce posts that focus on anything that might be considered controversial. 

-Perfect your phone skills.

I can’t tell you how often a future employer has said to me, “Wow. I wish the candidate would learn how to answer their phone.” If you’re applying for jobs, you may get calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize. Answer in a polite, pleasant way that uses your name. An uncomfortable, “Hello?” is no way to begin a conversation with your future boss.

-Be on time.

When you’re early in your career, your real world experience is still slim. But, there’s one thing you can easily do: show up on time.

-Once you’ve landed your perfect job, don’t start hinting that you want more money.

The time to negotiate was before you started. Once you’re there, you’ve agreed to work for what they’re paying you. Nobody is planning to pay you more just because you’re the smartest, fastest, or best at the job you were hired to do.

-Don’t expect a promotion every one to two years.

I wish it worked this way, but it just doesn’t. Working your way up the ladder takes time. Promotions often happen when your level of responsibility has changed. Perhaps you’ve started to manage a team. Or, maybe your job includes a new area that it didn’t before.

Early on, your job is primarily about learning and growing. Take the time to learn as much as you can. Give back to the organization. In the long term, this will result in both a fruitful and successful journey.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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