Determining why you can’t find a job is easier said than done. For many, it’s a complete mystery that leaves them frustrated and unsure of what to improve on.
This list of common reasons why you can’t seem to find a job will help you become a more competitive applicant, and ultimately receive job offers.
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Not Getting Interviews or Calls After Applying
One of the most frustrating experiences you can have during your job search is not getting interviews or calls. After filling out an application and submitting your resume, it’s nothing but radio silence.
Why is this?
If you can’t find a job and are having trouble making it past this stage, there are several potential issues that could be a factor.
1. You Don’t Have Proper Qualifications
Your basic qualifications are often the first things hiring managers scrutinize when considering your application. They want to ensure that you have the necessary skills to succeed in the position. If you’re not getting interviews or calls, you may simply not have the qualifications that employers are looking for from a new hire.
Moving forward in your job search, study the job description. Please read the post in its entirety and make sure you meet the minimum qualifications outlined before applying. If you don’t have the company’s desired experience, consider applying for a more entry-level position.
If none are available, you’ll have to look elsewhere until you can meet those qualifications.
2. There are Mistakes in Your Resume or Application
Even minor errors in your resume or application can ruin your chances of getting a job. Hiring managers pay attention to those small details, and mistakes give off the impression that you’re not serious or detail-oriented enough for the position.
Many job-seekers rarely update their resumes and then wonder why they can’t find a job. If this is you, spend some time revising your resume and ensuring that it’s 100 percent error-free.
Run it through spell and grammar checkers, reread every section, and have someone else proofread. Do the same when filling out the application to ensure that there are no mistakes that will cost you a job opportunity.
3. You Need to Expand Your Job Search
If you’re hyper-focused on one position or industry, getting an offer will be significantly more difficult. Many more opportunities are available, so if you can’t find a job you might want to broaden your search to find them.
Think about applying for jobs outside your industry. Focus on your skills and strengths to see what positions would benefit from your expertise. You likely qualify for more open jobs than you realize.
You can look at other industries to expand your skill set and gain unique work experience. Don’t be afraid to look at more junior positions that help you build credibility and beef up your resume.
During your job search, use several resources. In addition to the popular job search websites, turn to your professional network, go to events, and see what other opportunities are available.
4. You Need to Spend More Time Trying to Find a Job
You can’t expect to get a job after only a handful of applications. For many applicants that say they can’t find a job, they’re simply giving up too early! It takes time, and some job-seekers will spend months going through the grind until they receive an elusive offer.
Treat your job search like a full-time job. Create a schedule that holds you accountable. Set clear goals and work towards submitting as many applications as possible.
Don’t stop there. It would help if you also prepared for potential interviews, research opportunities, and more.
Ideally, it’s best to submit at least three applications per week. View your search as a job. Otherwise, you may invest less time than necessary to find your next big break.
5. You’re Overlooking the Value of Networking
One of the biggest mistakes people make when searching for a new job is not taking advantage of their professional network. Online job listings are great, but landing your next opportunity may be about who you know. Networking is paramount; you should utilize professional connections to see what’s out there.
Reach out to former colleagues or employers. Put out feelers and share the specifics of the work you are looking for. You can even attend networking events to meet people in person.
Make it known that you’re looking for a job, and be vocal about where you want your career to go. You’d be surprised by how often people get jobs through networking alone. If you’re not using your connections, you’re missing out!
6. Your Industry Has a Highly Competitive Job Market
Sometimes, a lack of calls and interviews comes down to competition. If you’re in a highly competitive field and it seems like you can’t get a job, countless qualified individuals may be vying for the same positions as you.
The best thing you can do is take steps to make yourself stand out among your competitors. That involves beefing up your qualifications and offering something unique to employers.
Try improving your credentials. You can take classes or obtain certifications for in-demand skills or proficiencies. Many job-seekers in competitive fields also diversify their portfolios by taking on leadership roles or large projects.
Anything you can do to make your resume more compelling can make a difference.
7. Your Resume Doesn’t Stand Out
Here’s an issue that could impact your chances of finding a job regardless of the market’s competitiveness. Even if you’re a highly qualified candidate, a generic or unappealing resume does you no favors.
Hiring managers aren’t impressed with generic resumes or ones that simply list job duties. Your experience doesn’t stand out unless you write about what you accomplished.
The best fix to this problem is to tailor your resume to every application. That can take more time, but it’s an effort that can make a huge difference.
Study every job description, include relevant keywords to make your resume stand out, and craft each section to appear tailor-made for the job.
8. Employers Have Concerns About Job Hopping
Job hopping used to be a major issue for employers. It’s not so much anymore, but some companies still resist hiring people they think won’t be around for too long. They may get that impression from you if your resume is large and shows frequent job changes over the last several years.
There’s nothing wrong with pursuing something better and moving your career forward. But you must reassure hiring managers that the job isn’t a temporary stepping stone.
Include a brief explanation about why you left each company, especially if the reason was company layoffs. In your resume, use language that emphasizes your dedication to professional development and interest in applying your skills to benefit the organization.
9. There are Unaddressed Gaps in Your Employment History
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you may have noticeable gaps in your employment history. If a company isn’t worried about job hopping, it may view unexplained gaps as a red flag.
Once again, there’s nothing wrong with taking time off to pursue other interests, but the key is to provide an explanation. Address those gaps in your resume’s cover letter to make them a non-issue with hiring managers.
Whether you took time off to expand your family, go back to school, or reevaluate your career goals, talk about it. It’s better than ignoring the gaps and leaving hiring managers to make assumptions.
10. You Need More Work Experience
A lack of experience is another big issue for employers. It’s not merely about the number of years you’ve worked in a field. Hiring managers want to see that you have experience performing specific tasks related to the job you’re trying to land.
Experience issues can arise if you apply to a new leadership role after years of entry-level work. While you have experience in the field, your resume may not show any history of leadership or relevant responsibilities.
Consider asking your current employer for more opportunities to gain the experience necessary to further your job search. Online or in-person classes can beef up your resume, too, compelling hiring managers to overlook a lack of experience.
11. Your Resume Doesn’t Explain How You are Qualified for the Job You’re Applying to
This issue relates to how you tailor your resume for every job application. You can list out all the education and work experience you have under your belt, but it won’t stand out if your resume doesn’t provide enough details to show that you’re the right fit for the job.
You must customize your resume and highlight the most relevant details to prove you’re the right person. Use the skills and experience sections to explain why you’re qualified.
Study the job description and make sure your resume specifically addresses what the employer is looking for in a candidate.
You Aren’t Making it Past the Initial Call or Phone Screen
If you are lucky enough to hear back from potential employers, there’s still the initial call and screening phase to overcome. Many job-seekers experience issues overcoming this hurdle, stopping the hiring process before it begins.
If you can’t find a job and typically run into problems at this stage of the hiring process, here are some possible reasons to consider.
12. You Weren’t Prepared to Answer Questions
Not preparing for interviews will kill your chances of getting a job. Some assume that screening calls and those first phone interviews don’t matter as much as in-person interviews, but that’s not the case!
Interviewers use initial calls to thin the herd. The questions are usually more straightforward than what you’ll hear during a full interview. However, how you respond still matters.
If you’re unprepared to answer phone interview questions confidently, hiring managers will know. A lack of preparation gives off a sense of unprofessionalism and carelessness. Why continue with the hiring process when other candidates could answer questions without any issues?
Always prepare before a conversation. Research the company and review common phone interview questions to ensure you speak confidently.
13. You Didn’t Research the Company Well Enough
A significant portion of the job search should be about researching the companies you apply to. You need to learn everything you can about potential employers. Learn about how the company makes money, understand its history, etc.
Many first phone interviews will contain questions that gauge your knowledge of the company. For example, interviewers may ask, “Why do you want to work here?” You need solid knowledge of the organization to answer those questions.
Not researching the company is a big mistake that will end up with you having trouble finding a job. It shows a lack of commitment and interest.
14. You are Overqualified
Believe it or not, being overqualified could be the reason why you can’t find a job. That might not seem like a bad thing, but it could indicate to an employer that you view this position as short-term or that you may require higher pay than they’re willing to offer.
The best thing you can do here is to emphasize how you want to apply your skills to do the best job possible for the job. During the phone screen, stay focused on the skills the job requires.
You don’t have to hide your experience. Still, you should know how to reiterate your interest in this position and be comfortable telling interviewers why you want the job despite your possible overqualification.
15. You are Asking for too Much Money
Everyone has a salary in mind when searching for jobs. You know your worth, but stating high pay expectations during your first call can backfire. Remember: Screening calls are to thin the herd. Most hiring managers will pass on you if you come out the gate with high salary demands.
Do your research about average salaries for this position in your area. Make sure that every job you apply to matches that figure.
When asked about salary expectations, the best approach is to provide a range. Alternatively, you can put off salary negotiations. For example, you can say that your main priority is finding a job that suits where you are in your career and are willing to negotiate salary later.
The important thing is to emphasize your willingness to be flexible. Saying that expectations are firm shows that there’s no wiggle room to work with you.
You’re Getting Interviews But No Job Offers
Getting through the initial phone call and one or more interviews can get your hopes up. So why do you feel like you still can’t find a job after getting so far into the process? Here are a few common hurdles that could hold you back from getting an offer.
16. You Need Better References
Bad references will quickly remove you from the pool of candidates. Most employers wait to contact references until they know who they want to hire. If your references say they won’t hire you again, that’s a huge red flag.
Always choose people you know will speak positively of you. Don’t assume that a former employer will always sing your praises.
When asking for references, consider providing a copy of the job description so that they know what to expect. Ask if they’re willing to provide a positive recommendation. If not, move on to find someone else!
Ideally, you should have two or three references who can provide glowing reviews.
17. You Aren’t the Right Fit for the Organization’s Culture
Company culture is a big deal. Employers want people who will fit right into the existing work environment. They prefer candidates with similar values and work styles.
Never go into an interview without understanding the company’s work culture. You can learn more by visiting its official website, researching current employees, and more.
Understand what’s important to the organization. Use the interview as your opportunity to learn more to help you decide if you want to work there. Saying anything that opposes that culture can create hesitation among hiring managers. You want to be as adaptable as possible.
18. You Display Negative Emotions
Interviews are about more than gauging your qualifications. It’s a chance for hiring managers to get to know you and determine if you’re someone they want to work with. Displaying negative emotions of any kind will pull you quickly from the running.
Anger, frustration, and entitlement are all things to avoid showing. No one wants to work with people who will cause problems. Hiring managers will likely opt for your competition if you display negative emotions during your interview.
Always remain positive and professional. Stay calm during your interview and refrain from bad-mouthing former employers or expressing frustration with the hiring process. Keep it light and positive.
19. Your Social Media Profiles Don’t Reflect You Well
In the social media age, you must be careful about what you post. Employers often do outside research about candidates. If your profiles are public, you can bet that hiring managers will take a look!
Consider cleaning out your social media profiles of anything remotely offensive or controversial. If you don’t want to do that, make everything private.
While social media posts are something you do in your personal time, they can paint a picture of who you are as a person. If you have anything up that you don’t want hiring managers to see, that could be why you can’t find a job.
20. You Don’t Have a Good Answer to “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?“
This issue is related to the issue of job hopping, but it goes a little deeper. Potential employers will examine your work history and ask why you left your former company.
It’s alright to be honest, but you must remain professional and deliver a well-thought-out response. Negativity or speaking ill of former colleagues isn’t a good look. Neither is not being able to say what encouraged you to look for new employment.
Bad answers only raise red flags. Talk about your experiences and focus on the career development aspect of why you left. You can say you wanted to pursue something new and redirect your career.
Leave the more salacious details out of the equation.
21. You Didn’t Ask Any Questions During the Interview
It’s best practice to ask at least two or three questions during your interview. They need to be thoughtful questions. Simple questions about work schedules or pay may be important to you, but there’s more you need to know.
Instead, ask about the organization. Use the interview as your opportunity to learn more to help you decide if you want to work there. Here are some interview questions to ask employers.
This issue is all about interest. Hiring managers want to see that you genuinely want the job and aren’t desperate for a paycheck. Plus, getting answers to questions about performance expectations, key assignments, and company culture gives you a better understanding of what the job is all about. Asking thoughtful questions makes you look engaged and committed, which is always a plus.
22. You Didn’t Seem Interested in the Job
Asking questions, knowing a great deal about the company, and having impactful answers to interview questions are all great ways to show your interest.
No company wants to hire someone who’s only there for a paycheck. They want people who can help boost the bottom line and improve the company. You must show that you’re genuinely interested in this opportunity.
Otherwise, hiring managers will turn to another candidate. Always reiterate your interest to show that this job is important to you. If you’ve been skipping this step, that could be part of the reason why you can’t find a job.
23. You Didn’t Make a Good Impression
Finally, the problem could be that you’re simply not leaving a good impression.
Interviews are not easy. They require more preparation than most people realize. Furthermore, you’re under a magnifying glass! Interviewers and hiring managers judge every response and non-verbal cue.
Pay attention to your body language and how you communicate. Convey ideas concisely without rambling. Those little details matter and affect the overall impression you leave behind.
Work on your interview skills. Practice answering common questions and do mock interviews to ensure you come off how you want. Aim to be confident and compelling.
As you can see, there are a number of reasons why you can’t find a job. But fortunately, all of them can be addressed.
Take some time to go through this list and find areas that need improvement. By being honest with yourself during this process you’ll be able to make yourself a far more competitive candidate!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.