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5 Job Search Mistakes Recent Grads Tend to Make -- and How to Avoid Them

Maurie Backman, The Motley Fool

Congratulations! After years of hard work, you're finally walking away from college with a diploma in hand. But unfortunately, now comes the tough part: navigating a job search and trying not to trip up too badly in the process. If you're a newly minted college grad, you're probably eager to kick-start your career and make your mark. Just be sure to avoid these mistake that might hinder your job search rather than help it.

1. Believing your first job out of college should be your dream job

There's nothing wrong with wanting to find a job you'll love after graduating college. At the same time, you can't approach your job search with the assumption that you'll settle for nothing less than your dream role. When you're coming in with little to no experience, you can only afford to be so picky, and while you certainly shouldn't take a job you're convinced you'll be miserable at, you also can't hold out for total perfection.

Man holding tablet with job search app on screen

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

2. Embellishing on your resume

It's natural to be a little sheepish about your resume when your only work experience to date is a stint scooping mashed potatoes at the campus dining hall. But that doesn't mean you should take liberties with your resume by exaggerating your skills or, worse yet, lying outright. Doing so could ruin your chances of getting hired if you're caught being less than truthful, so you're better off crafting a resume with accurate content, and then jazzing it up with the right language.

3. Using a cookie-cutter cover letter

Your cover letter is your chance to tell prospective employers who you are and what you bring to the table. It's also a good opportunity to overcome the shortcomings on your resume -- so don't blow it by making that letter boring and generic. Instead, talk up your skills and tell potential employers why you're excited about the jobs they're presenting. Your personality should really shine through in your cover letter, and if it doesn't, you're doing yourself a major disservice.

4. Not networking

When you're brand-new to the workforce, networking can be a little daunting -- but you still need to do it. If you're hesitant to sign up for a business conference blindly or engage random strangers in suits on the street in conversation, try networking in a more low-key fashion. Attend local area meetups, look for potential contacts through job sites like LinkedIn, and ask your friends for introductions to people they know who can help you. The more of an effort you make to build a business network, the greater your chances of learning of job opportunities you otherwise may not have heard of.

5. Not practicing your interview skills

It's normal to get nervous during job interviews, especially if you haven't been on many. But if you don't make an effort to hone your interview skills, your nerves might ultimately get the better of you -- and cost you some great jobs in the process. Not only should you read up on common interview questions, but you should also enlist the help of a family member or friend and do a few trial runs. Going through the motions will make you more comfortable with the interview process, thereby increasing your chances of success.

Falling victim to any of these blunders could seriously thwart your job-search efforts -- so don't let that happen. Otherwise, you might find that your stint as an unemployed college grad lasts longer than you'd like it to.

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Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Maurie Backman owns shares of Microsoft. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.