10 toughest career dilemmas - solved

From whether it's time to change jobs, to secrets for getting into business school, to advice on surviving an office romance, here are excerpts from some of the top Ask Annie columns of the year.

5 big mistakes new grads make
5 big mistakes new grads make
How can you improve your chances of landing the job you really want after graduation? Anna Ivey, a Columbia grad and former dean of admissions at the University of Chicago Law School, now consults with companies on how to adapt to Generation Y, and vice versa. She frequently sees Gen Y job-seekers making 5 basic errors. Here they are - and how to avoid them:

1. Allowing "helicopter parents" to contact employers. Even if you routinely involve one or both parents in every aspect of your life, your job search is one time when you should ask your folks to back off. "You'll stand out from the pack as exceptionally mature and professional if you keep your parents' advice entirely behind the scenes," Ivey says.

2. MySpace misjudgments. "Don't post anything on any publicly accessible Web site that you wouldn't feel comfortable showing a recruiter or hiring manager - for example, racy photos or rants about a job or professor you hate," Ivey says. Employers will Google you, so make sure your online act is squeaky-clean.

3. Failure to network. "You may think you don't know anyone of consequence, but if you sit down and draw up a list of everyone you know, you may be impressed at how wide your network really is," Ivey notes. Include your friends' parents and your parents' friends: "Each one of them in turn has a network." Let everyone know you're job hunting, explain what kinds of roles or industries you're aiming for, and be sure to follow up on any leads.

4. Forgetting to say a simple "thank you." "When someone goes out of his or her way to help you, send a short e-mail expressing your gratitude and promising to stay in touch," Ivey says. "Most new college graduates show poor manners, so being polite is just one more way to stand out from the crowd.

5. Bad voice-mail greetings. Ivey says that 90% sound "immature and much too casual. Make sure to give recruiters your cellphone number so they can reach you easily, but remember to change your greeting." Instead of, "Whassup, it's Greg, leave a message," say something like, "Hello, you've reached Greg. Please leave a message." And if the phone rings when it would be inconvenient to hold an important conversation, Ivey says, let the call go to voicemail: "Don't talk to a recruiter during a basketball game."

Last updated December 19 2007: 7:58 AM ET
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