Five Things Not To Do When Looking For Your First Job


What do you want to do after graduation?  If you are thinking of doing a full time job – you are in the right place.  Reading as much as you can about the process by reading articles such as this would arm you with the tools you need to be successful in your job search.  After all, your first job will have a huge impact on what you will do later on in your career.  In this article, we will talk about the major pitfalls that you need to avoid so that you can prepare for a smooth transition to that dream job straight out of school.  For your reading pleasure, we highlighted top five pitfalls:

  1. Procrastinate
    Procrastination is typically your biggest, worst obstacle to your first job.  There are always seemingly more pressing matters to do than researching and submitting your job applications: a dinner party to attend, groceries to do, or a room to clean up.  Remember that most US-based employers start hiring a whole year prior to your starting work date.  This means that you need to start applying by the time you enter senior year.  Plan to write your cover letter and resume early in the game and make sure to have people you trust review them a few times.  Keep your eyes on the prize.

  2. Be a perfectionist.
    Some say that perfectionism stems from the desire to procrastinate.  You take days to write a perfect email before sending it out.  You feel like you need to make a perfect elevator speech before talking to potential employers.  You hold back from talking to a gorgeous guy/girl because you want to think up the ultimate pickup line.  When you try to be perfect, you end up delaying action to the point where you may never start.  This mentality is more dangerous than procrastination because with perfectionism, you may feel that you are working very hard but never actually getting things done.  Just do it.

  3. Skip Networking
    Many students cringe at the thought of going to networking events or writing that first cold email to reach out to a professional.  But like many cliches in life, it’s a cliche because it has proven time and time again to be useful and true.  I have seen my peers land their dream jobs because of their willingness and persistence to reach out and maintain that network.  My classmates landed extraordinary first job at a top Wall Street firms because they did what many of their peers failed to do: they wrote that first cold email and made that first cold call to make genuine connections, expressed their drive and motivation by asking relevant questions, and learning from top professionals in the field.  Related to points #1 and #2, they got right into the task without hesitation or delay.

  4. Be a Grade Geek
    Having a high GPA will get you interviews.  But the things you do outside of class are the things that will get you the job.  Why? Because these activities are the things that you remember and talk about in your job interviews.  If you are interested in working with an investments manager, do your own investing or join a club to see how the investing process works.  If you want to work at a big engineering firm, build something you can be passionate about.  If you just don’t know what you want to do in the future, go join clubs that sound interesting to you – get out of your comfort zone, make friends outside of your circle of friends, read books that fascinate you, and devote to your learning.  You will be miles ahead of your peers in the job market when you do because by getting involved, you have demonstrated that you are motivated, curious, hard-working, and interesting.  The breadth of your experience will show during your interview — and there is no other way around it other than actually getting involved!

  5. Stress Out
    What do you do when there are 3 job application deadlines, 2 midterms, and 4 papers due in one week?  Stress is a natural and perfectly normal reaction, but being overwhelmed by the things you need to do will only hurt your productivity.  Take a deep breath and schedule a realistic game plan.  Take this as a lesson learned and plan ahead for the next rounds so that you can get everything done without being pressured by time.

Think about how you can avoid these pitfalls and think about how you would design your life differently after reading this piece.  Read rule #1.  Happy hunting!


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Kevin Halim is an internal auditor for the premier power company in Houston, Texas. He graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Master’s degree in Finance and a Bachelor’s in Economics. He enjoys bubble tea and the activities to accompany the decadent drink: reading a book, discussing ideas about the world, catching up with friends. When he isn’t on the computer screen, he likes to run, rock climb, do badminton, or play The Settlers of Catan.


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