Graduates: Avoid These 6 Early Career Pitfalls


The summer can be an exciting time for a young job seeker, especially if you’re fresh off of college graduation and ready to embark on your professional career journey.

As you head out in search of your first job, set yourself up for long-term success by avoiding these common early career pitfalls:

1. Don’t Let Your Parents Get Involved in Your Job Search

At the most, your parents should be providing you with one-on-one guidance from the comfort of your home. 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 definitely never attend an interview with you or negotiate your salary for you.

2. Don’t Let Your Social Media Presence Sabotage Your Search

Employers will look at more than your resume. Regardless of how you feel about the practice, they will look at your social media profiles as well. You don’t want to have any content on your accounts that might make employers turn you down. Get in there and scrub you profiles clean of anything controversial.

3. Don’t Be Afraid of the Phone

I can’t tell you how often an 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 politely and pleasantly — and maybe even give your name up front. An uncomfortable “Hello?” is no way to begin a conversation with your future boss.

4. Don’t Be Late

Early in your career, your real-world experience is slim. You have little evidence of the value you can provide an employer. But you do have one easy way to boost your credibility: Always show up on time.

5. Don’t Ask for More Money Without a Good Reason

Once you’re in your job, don’t go around hinting that you should be paid more. The time to negotiate was before you started. Now, 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. Earning a raise requires going above and beyond your job description.

6. Don’t Expect Automatic Promotions

It would be nice if we all got a promotion every two years, but that’s not how it works. Making your way up the ladder takes time, and it requires you to take on new responsibilities. If you start managing a team, for example, or take over a new area, then maybe you’ll get that promotion.