Over the past 10 days, I’ve talked individually to over 100 college students about their careers. Most of them – and for reasons we all understand – are scared to death about their pending entrance into the workforce.

During these conversations, however, five primary areas of concern (please notice I did not use the word “excuses”) were the reported cause of their anxiety. Most important: working on each of these will make a huge difference being perceived as strong candidates – or unemployable.

Here are the Top 4 reasons why recruiters may perceive you – as compared to your job search competition – as unemployable…

1. Confidence is King

“I am way more qualified than my peers. And smarter. But they have job offers, and I don’t. Why?” (said sheepishly with little or no eye contact and with slumped shoulders).

Recruiters have always been reluctant to hire those who fail to exude confidence; since the beginning of time recruiters have been measured by their ability to hire leaders and difference-makers. For candidates in our new economy, any failure to show sincere self-assurance – and the desire to compete at a high level – is death to their application.

The good news: you have the rest of your college career to gain the experience and prepare the skills necessary to overcome this issue.

Start now. Develop a dynamic, affable, confident job search style. Or, regardless of your talent or smarts, keep wondering why you are always the last kid picked for kickball at recess.

2. The Best Strategy is Rarely the Easiest

“I’ve submitted 200 applications on www.BigJobBoard.com… and haven’t received a single call-back.”

After hearing this same story over and over again for almost five years now… why do we still think this approach is an effective job search strategy?

Here’s my theory:

  • Job boards are easy
  • Networking (especially for us introverts) and research are hard work
  • Human nature dictates we try “easy” first – no matter how ineffective and frustrating the end result

Ask millions of your unemployed or underemployed friends: easy doesn’t work.

3. The “Catch-22”

“I’m only a college student – but employers want me to have all this experience. But if no one will hire me, how do I get the experience.”

Bunk. Period.

With no internships or volunteer positions on your resume – and without the development of soft skills through campus activities, clubs, fraternities or sororities, and much more – of course many recruiters looking for a “can do the job, right now” candidate – are going to pass you over. Even those with a 4.0 GPA counting on their academic excellence to carry them into the workforce are likely to soon face a cold hard fact: in many industries, your job seeking competition with a 3.1 GPA – the confident networkers with significant hands-on experience and abundant soft skills – is going to kick your butt in the real world.

Simply put, there is No Excuse for No Experience.

4. Failure to Learn

“I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I can’t get a job offer.”

I DO know what you are doing wrong… you are not making enough – or any – effort to learn what you’re doing wrong!

Every draft of a wholly customized cover letter and resume, every application, every phone/Skype interview and every single face-to-face meeting is a golden chance to discover what worked very well, what part of the process you can improve a bit – and perhaps what went horribly wrong.

Self-analyze your job search strengths and weaknesses. Discuss the process with a mentor. Ask for feedback from the recruiters you meet during your job search and while networking. Otherwise, you’ve just wasted a golden opportunity to learn – and improve.

How many of these four “areas of concern” have rolled off your tongue lately?

More important, with each experience…how are you making yourself more employable?

About the Author: A passionate supporter of Gen Y talent, CEO and Founder of YouTern Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO regarding internships, higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce and career development. Recently, Mark was honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors”. You can contact Mark via email or on Twitter.

 Image courtesy of David Blackwell.