Top Reasons Why You Can’t Find a Job: The Unsuccessful Job Search

Top reasons why you can't find a job by Careerminded.caHaving trouble finding a new job? Here is a list of some of the top reasons why you can’t find a job.  Read and consider the following reasons to see if you can find a cause for your unsuccessful job search.  Once you are aware of the problem, you can work towards a solution and find a job.

Your resume and cover letter need work. My rule of thumb is that if you send out 5 application packages (resume and cover letters) to jobs where you meet the qualifications exactly (and I do mean exactly) and you have not received an interview request, there is something wrong with your resume and/or cover letter.

You are applying for jobs you are not qualified for.
When a posting says “must have” certain qualifications or lists “mandatory qualifications” and you do not have the qualifications but you routinely apply anyway, you may be wasting your time and energy. It can be far more effective to spend your energy finding a job posting where you meet all the qualifications easily and then put effort into creating a stellar application. Choose to apply with a quality application to a job you are qualified for and not large quantities of poor applications to jobs you don’t fully qualify for.

You are sabotaging.
If down deep inside you do not want to work, you may be sabotaging your efforts. For example, you list conditions of employment in your application that should not come up until you are negotiating an offer such as holidays you have pre-booked, conditions you require in your work environment or restrictions on the hours you can work. If you come across as inflexible and demanding, you will not get an interview or an offer.

You are finding fault in every opportunity out of fear.
If you are a serial rejecter of offers because they do not meet your standards, then it is time to ask yourself if you are motivated by fear. Fear of commitment and the grass is always greener phenomena isn’t just for relationships; it can also play out in a job search. If you are so afraid of accepting an offer because there may be a better offer out there, I think you need to realize that there are no perfect offers and that a job is (for the most part) what you make of it.   All jobs will have their down side so it is your choice if you focus on the down side or the up side. If you are rejecting interviews before you’ve had a chance to negotiate at the offer stage then you really need to look at what is preventing your success.

You are not applying enough.
Sometimes the problem isn’t that you are applying for everything and anything even if you are not qualified, sometimes the problem is that you are not applying enough to give yourself better odds of getting an interview. This is especially important in highly competitive job markets e.g. administrative assistant roles where employers receive 400-500 resumes for one opening. It can come down to a numbers game. How many applications should you submit? If you can find three to five jobs a week where you fully meet the qualifications and you prepare stellar applications, you should be employed quickly.

You want a job that doesn’t exist.
If you have immigrated and the position you held in another country does not exist in North America, you have to find an alternative career that uses your skills set. If technology has made your job obsolete, again, it is time to look at what skills can transfer into a new industry. This may require career coaching.

You are not networking.
They call it the hidden job market and the research shows that the vast majority of job offers come from people who know you, even if it is a brief encounter that prompted the interview. It is very important when you are unemployed to network as much as you can. Ask a mentor or advisor you trust to recommend people that you can talk to and find out who is hiring. Participate in industry events and social gatherings as well and have cards with your contact information and occupational goal to hand out.

Download a free tip sheet on networking for sample conversation starters and more.

You have not sold your competitive advantage.
This is a critical component of a job search. If you are not crystal clear on what you bring to the table that is unique from all the other applicants that have applied to the position you will not rise to the top. Do you speak another language, know specialized software, have a skill or talent at an advanced or expert level, or have experience in a specialized area? Think about what sets you apart from the crowd. If you sound too average in your application package, you will not make it through the screening for an interview.

You have not proven your talent.
Many applicants take the approach of responding to what the job posting asks for by simply stating that they have that qualification but what they fail to do is prove they have that qualification.  For example, if a job posting asks for experience with Microsoft Word, don’t just list it as one of the programs you know.  Explain exactly what you are capable of doing in MS Word – show the breadth and the depth of your skill by giving examples of advanced techniques or little known aspects of the program. For example, you are hiring an administrative assistant.  Who would you hire?

  • Candidate 1:  lists MS Word as one of the programs they know under “Technical Skills”
  • Candidate 2: includes the following sentence in their cover letter, “My skill level in MS Word is advanced;  I am able to do complex mail merges, create eBooks with photos and graphics, posters, catalogs and brochures and convert information in MS Word or Excel documents to PowerPoint presentations with pie charts and other graphics.”

You are putting yourself down in an interview.
Self-deprecation is something some people do without realizing it. You may think you are being honest or realistic but if it is a skill or experience that is required for the job, it will be the reason you are rejected. Instead, come to an interview with an attitude that anything can be learned and that you have transferable skills and/or are willing to learn. Avoid saying you can’t do something.

You don’t smile.
People want to work with happy, upbeat people. If you have a serious look on your face in the interview and do not smile, it can come across that you are not fun to be around. Show your warmth and friendly nature by smiling and being positive.

Did this list ring a bell with you? Can you see why you remain unemployed? Please share your “ah ha!” moment in the comment section so other readers can learn from your discovery.
Do you need help trying to figure out which of these apply to your situation or would you like to discuss what you’ve found out from reviewing this list? You can purchase a 30 minute consulting/coaching session from me and we’ll talk on the phone about your situation.


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Copyright © 2015 Joni Rose of Career Minded Consulting Services. All rights reserved. Any unauthorized use will constitute an infringement of copyright. Please contact Joni Rose for reprint permission.

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