The Biggest Myths Told By College Career Centers

Elizabeth Witbeck

During college, I spent a lot of time in my campus career center. Like many students, I believed that college degrees were supposed to give you a job, and I went to several dozen meetings and events in the career center in order to secure myself a job after graduation.

Over the course of my life, I have applied to hundreds of jobs and have gone on hundreds of interviews. During that time, I realized that not all of the advice that a college career center provides is reflective of what is happening out in the workplace. This article will provide you with some things I learned about interviewing for a job, as it applies to what is happening now, so you can rework your interviewing strategy.

Experience is what matters most.

Many of the advisors in the college career center told us to promote our education on our application. If we didn’t have the experience, we could talk about how our college degree has provided us with a variety of flexible and transferable skills.

Education is great, but what employers really want to see is experience. They want to know that you have been in the field and done relevant work and will be able to execute if they hire you. Past experience is the best indicator that you will be a successful employee. This is why it is so critical that you land an internship while you are in college.

When writing your resume, make sure that your first section is the one listing your work experience. That is the one employers are most interested in looking at. Your education should be discussed at the end of your resume.

You don’t need to follow up on your job applications.

Ancient wisdom stated by career centers on college campuses says to always follow up within a few days of submitting any job application. I would call businesses just to ask if they received my application. I was never hired at any of those places. Any job offer I have received, I received it within days of submitting my application. Hiring managers are desperate to fill the void when they have a job opening.

When they see a great application, they will contact that person to set up an interview. This is another reason why it is so important to have a cover letter and resume that is superior and stands out from the pile.

Hiring managers are not disorganized people who are losing job applications – and if they are, why would you want to work for that company? Additionally, hiring managers are busy people. They are in meetings all day long, or discussing issues with employees. They do not have time to stop to chat with you about your job application. If they like your application, they will call you first, every time.

Interview questions are personalized for the position.

In college, I did a lot of mock interviews, in which a college advisor pretended to interview me for a job opening. They asked me questions such as “What is your biggest weakness?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “Why should we hire you?” These are all questions commonly found by doing an Internet search. In my experience, hiring managers do not ask these types of questions during interviews. Hiring managers much prefer to write and ask their own questions, as they relate to their company.

They will ask you to talk about your resume and work experience, and how the experience you have specifically fits into the job you are applying for. Interviewers will talk about the skills necessary for the job, and ask you to think about a time you used each skill. “Tell me about a time when you had to display leadership skills” or “What kinds of computer programs do you know?” are more likely to be asked during an interview.

Everything is digital today.

Many college career centers advise students to purchase resume paper, which is a thicker paper, usually in a cream or beige tone. This paper looks more aesthetically pleasing for printing your resume. Career advisors would tell students to print copies of your resume and bring them to interviews. In my experience, I never met a hiring manager who did not have a resume ready to read during the interview.

It is good to be organized, and you can have a few copies handy, but remember that most everything is done digitally today.

Your cover letter and resume probably need to be rewritten.

One of the main services a college career center provides is writing your resumes and cover letters. You should definitely take advantage of this service, because your career advisors can help you write resumes and cover letters that will stand out in a stack of papers. As you gain experience, your resume and cover letters will need to be rewritten. These documents are something that truly should be tailored for each position you are applying for – not copy and pasted and sent mindlessly to many different jobs. Take time to write a resume and cover letter that fully represent your potential.

Changes are always happening inside of the workplace. It is important to stay up to date with current trends to know how to best handle your job search. Reading career blogs such as this one will keep you well prepared.

About The Author

Elizabeth Witbeck

Elizabeth Witbeck works as a college consultant and educational entrepreneur. She launched the first business in the United States that sends care packages to first generation college students, and also helps prospective college students on their applications. Her interests include education, poverty, and working with youth.

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