Despite improved job reports and a stronger economy, college grads are not having an easy time finding the right job. Getting hired today is vastly different for college students and grads than what it was for their parents 15+ years ago. In fact, most parents and grads are not aware that it takes college grads, on average, 7.4 months to land a job once they start searching full time. And based on what time of year they start the job search, it can be a longer and more challenging process.

College grads do not magically figure out the job search process. And no one has taught them these skills. When parents drop off their teens as freshmen at college, they know there are resources and advisors for them to turn to. But the landscape for college graduates is different — the infrastructure and support are gone, they feel isolated, and most lack a plan to transition from college to career.

In our work, we see firsthand the lack of understanding about the job search process. Both young adults and business leaders look at the process from their own perspectives, which are vastly different. Employers seek skill-based experience and do not understand the mindset of today’s entry-level candidates. And the millennial lens of culture fit and quality of life prevents them from understanding what employers prioritize when hiring young adults today. In other words, there is little intersection of the needs of each group.

To help these groups better understand each other, here are a few of the top hiring misconceptions of college grads for 2017, inspired by a recent report my company published based on a number of ongoing conversations with hiring managers, students, grads and parents, trend tracking, and continuous research.

  1. College grads are career ready. While many college grads feel they’re prepared to join the workforce, most recruiters disagree. According to iCIMS’ job outlook report, grads may have gained the education behind their respective industry in the classroom or during internships, but they still need to build on their hard and soft business skills. College grads need to evaluate the skill sets that align with what employers are looking for and adjust accordingly. This might mean getting certified in a specific skill, like Microsoft Office, or honing public speaking, data analysis or social media skills.
  2. College students and grads are tech-savvy. Earning a college degree and understanding the ins and outs of basic modern technology don’t necessarily make you an expert (despite what your older-generation relatives might say). This basic competence should not be misconstrued for the level of technical — or other — skills employers are looking for in entry-level candidates. Learn what specific technical skills are needed for the position you’re interested in.
  3. A top university degree with a strong GPA gets you a job. Graduating from an Ivy league school with a near-perfect GPA may help you stand out on your resume, and might even get you an interview, but it won’t necessarily land you a job. When it comes to the workforce, skills and what you bring to the table in terms of execution matter more than a GPA. What do you have to offer in terms of experience — internships, freelance gigs, summer work, volunteer opportunities, and involvement in school programs? The ability to demonstrate real-world skills paired with passion for the role you’re interviewing for are key.
  4. Any internship or job is great. It may seem backwards that you need experience to land an entry-level job, but most require 0-2 years experience. This can be fulfilled through internships. But don’t settle on just any internship: As mentioned above, only those that build knowledge and skills are worth your time (and your future employer’s). According to Wakefield research, 70% of recruiters find internships more valuable than a GPA. And more than half (60%) of hiring managers look for candidates who have had internships. Focus on opportunities that require initiative, drive and that offer the chance to build additional skills.
  5. Grads are prepared to ace the interview. Job interviews can be scary, especially for a first-timer. Not knowing what to expect, they sometimes show up hoping for the best, and aren’t prepared to sell the interviewer on their relevant experience that makes them a desirable candidate. But first impressions are everything and often prevent the candidate from moving forward. Before you show up to an interview, make sure to do your due diligence — research the position, the company and its culture and the person interviewing you. Be prepared to speak about anything on your resume in detail, create relevant and memorable questions for the interviewer, and make sure to silence your phone and all electronic devices before walking in the door. After the interview, send a well-written thank-you note within 24 hours. Many recruiters say applicants need to improve in the interview area. And, according to the iCIMS report, recruiters say 74% of entry-level candidates do not send a thank-you note after an interview.

By being more aware of the many complexities of the job search process and misconceptions about entering the workplace, as well as better preparing for specific opportunities and interviews, college students and grads will be able to optimize their early career launch.

Source: Forbes