Young job seekers entering the job market may find themselves in work environments where they’re the youngest among older workers with more experience. Your age shouldn’t keep you from finding work, but your behavior and attitude can. Here are some common missteps young job seekers make that can turn off potential employers, and possibly cost you a great career opportunity.
Check the “I don’t know” auto-response
Younger workers have a tendency to respond to questions with “I don’t know,” before even considering the question. This automatic “I don’t know” is often followed by a knowledgeable answer. Instead of using a discrediting phrase to fill the pause after a question, take a moment to formulate your response, and be confident in your knowledge and capability.
Leave your parents out
You’re an independent, responsible adult, and this is your job search. Many parents are all too eager to get involved. If your parents want to share their professional knowledge and experience, you can gain insight into the business world – but establish a clear boundary. Parents should not be writing your resume, scheduling interviews, or following up with companies for you – unless they’re the ones who are going to be doing your job too.
Utilize spell check
Texting, Twitter, and Facebook encourage shorthand writing – and bad spelling, punctuation, and grammar. I’ve seen resumes riddled with random letter capitalization, misused semicolons and ”there” in place of “their.” These mistakes make you seem unprofessional. Proofread your resume, and ask a friend to proofread it, too.
Follow professional courtesy
Formality in the work force varies from company to company, but there are certain Ps and Qs that are likely to apply everywhere. Dress appropriately for your interview, don’t use first names unless invited to, and say thank you after an interview (and follow up).
Unplug for a moment
Turn off or silence your phone during interviews, networking events, or in any professional setting. Frequent texting may make you seem uninterested and unfocused. And while having a strong online presence can help your job search, don’t forget the importance of face-to-face interaction. Try leaving the devices off from time to time and connecting to people in person.
Don’t be “that young person” at the event. Stay confident and let people see the competent professional side of you – the side that makes you a competitive job seeker and an ideal employee.