Homeschool graduates have a lot going for them when it comes to the job market. As the product of an innovative, flexible approach to education, they tend to be good at thinking outside the box—a crucial skill in today’s rapidly shifting economy. And, of course, homeschoolers tend to perform better academically.
But no matter who you are, venturing into the job market for the first time can be intimidating. In today’s blog post, we share a few common pitfalls that homeschoolers face when first entering the job market—whether directly from high school or after graduating from college.
Here they are:
1. Starting the application process with no work experience or practical skills
If your entire skillset is book learning, you have a problem. Employers are hungry for graduates with real-world experience. In fact, a survey from 2012 found that employers listed “internships” and “employment during college” as more important than “college major” when making hiring decisions.
What to do instead: Look to establish a track record of practical work experience. This can include summer jobs, internships, volunteering, foreign mission trips, and more. An added plus is to match your work or volunteer experience to your major in college. We share more ideas here.
2. Relying too much on online applications
There is a place for spreading your resume hither and yon through online applications (also known as “spray and pray”), but the success rate leaves much to be desired.
What to do instead: Ditch the online application pool. Get out and meet new people, make contacts, and let people know you’re looking for work. Professional relationships are truly the gold standard here.
3. Not keeping your social media identities tidy
You can rest assured that many potential employers run your name through major social media sites, or simply Google your name. Look at your social media identities from the vantage point of a hiring manager—would you hire you?
What to do instead: Keep a professional appearance on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. That doesn’t mean everything on your social media identities needs to be work-oriented, but it should reflect personal integrity and professionalism. Here are more tips for navigating the world of social media when it comes to college applications.
4. Not sending a handwritten thank you note after the interview
In the past, sending a handwritten thank you note was the expected norm following an interview. But today, that practice has fallen on hard times.
What to do instead: It’s simple … always send a handwritten thank you note! Be sure to drop your interviewer an email thank you as well. This one-two punch will help you stand out as a gracious, polite individual. Get more ideas here.
5. Only looking at jobs publicly posted
We all know that the best jobs are seldom posted publicly. That harkens back to our second point and our encouragement to get out, form professional relationships, and make contacts. That way, you’ll know about job opportunities long before they are posted online.
What to do instead: Identify specific employers you’d like to work for, and reach out to hiring managers there (LinkedIn can be a handy tool for this). Try writing a personal letter with your resume attach, explaining your interest in the company. This article in Forbes has many additional great ideas.
6. Refusing to settle
Don’t expect too great of a job when you’re just on the first rung of the ladder. Oftentimes, the best opportunities come along when you’re hard at work in the trenches in a job you don’t particularly like.
What to do instead: Don’t be afraid to “settle” for a job that doesn’t appear to be the perfect fight. But always look for new opportunities to advance into the job of your dreams.
As a homeschool graduate, hunting for your first job is an exciting time, but it can also be intimidating. Hopefully, the tips we’ve shared today will help you in your search. For some additional food for thought, check out this fantastic post on a 10-step process to job exploration for homeschoolers. Good luck!