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Hey, Class of 2013, Here’s How NOT to Get a Job

Allison Linn, NBC News
Saturday, 4 May 2013 | 8:09 AM ET
Fuse | Getty Images

Congratulations, class of 2013! Now, it's time to get out there and get a job.

It won't be easy, because the job market is tough and the competition is fierce. The unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds was still 13.1 percent in April, far higher than the overall unemployment rate of 7.5 percent. For 18- to 19-year-olds, it was 22.6 percent.

With those kinds of odds, you'll want to avoid wearing flip-flops to the interview, texting a friend while meeting with your prospective employer or letting a typo slip by on your résumé.

Here are some of the most common, and costly, errors.

Typos and Spelling Errors

You've probably spent hours poring over your resume to make sure it accurately showcases your talents and experience. All the work could be for naught if your résumé or cover letter also includes a typo or spelling error.

"There are a number of hiring managers (who) won't even call them, or even give them the time for an interview, because they'll feel like their attention to detail is not as high," said Janette Marx, a senior vice president with staffing firm Adecco who works with the engineering, IT, medical and scientific industries. "That does become a big disqualifier."

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Also—and this should go without saying—don't lie on your résumé.

Adecco asked 500 hiring managers to name the most common résumé mistake that disqualifies 18- to 24-year-olds from consideration. About 43 percent said spelling errors were the No. 1 problem, while 28 percent listed not being truthful.

Lack of Experience

Instead of lying, the better path is to be able to truthfully beef up your résumé.

Many young college graduates wrongly believe that you can still land a career-path position just because they have a college diploma.

"They believe that coursework and (a) degree will get them a job," said Rich Feller, a professor of counseling and career development at Colorado State University, and president of the National Career Development Association.

But these days, Feller said, employers are looking for a degree plus a specialized certificate, strong internship or some other documented success. That means college students need to develop other specialized skills and get relevant experience while they're earning their degree.

Employers also are less likely to offer training programs for entry-level workers.

"We've switched the burden for training to the employee, more so than in the past," Feller said.

Dressing Inappropriately

A job interview is generally not a time to show off your flair for fashion—or much of your body, for that matter.

The Adecco survey also asked hiring managers to name the biggest general mistakes they see 18- to 24-year-old job candidates making. Half of them named "inappropriate wardrobe or attire."

Marx said women should generally make sure to dress conservatively with close-toed shoes, an appropriate-length skirt, and understated jewelry and makeup. For guys, the most common feedback is that their clothes were wrinkled.

It's generally better to err on the side of being better-dressed, but that doesn't automatically mean a suit or a tie. Before you go on an interview, ask someone what the dress code is so you'll fit in.

"When you're interviewing at a specific company you want to research the culture of that company," Marx said.

Missing Your Interview

Remember, first impressions matter—and your potential employers' impression of you starts the moment you walk into the office.

So, get there on time. In the Adecco survey, 44 percent of hiring managers said a big mistake young job seekers make is to show up late, on the wrong date or at the wrong time.

Checking Your Phone, or Checking Out

Thirty percent of the managers Adecco surveyed said a big faux pas young job seekers make is to check their phone or send a text while interviewing.

"Going into an interview, it is so imperative: The phone is on silent, it's put away and it's not brought out," Marx said.

Many also complained that young job seekers don't make eye contact while interviewing, which Marx said can show a lack of confidence.

Not Being Flexible

It would be nice to land a dream job and get a generous compensation package right out of college, but even experienced job seekers often aren't getting what they want these days.

In the Adecco survey, about 36 percent of hiring managers also complained that young job seekers are too aggressive about expectations for pay and other benefits, such as vacation time.

By Allison Linn of NBC News

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