If you’ve been passed over for a job, interviewed and never contacted again, or submitted a resume without getting so much as an automatic reply, join the club. Even skilled, highly-employable and hardworking people hit a career rut now and then.
Is it your fault that you’re not getting a job offer?
The Game Being Played Around You
Before, recruiters go through resumes to look for applicants who fit their checklist.
Now, due to the onslaught of applicants, they first weed out applicants using keywords, employment history, social media, and Google search.
"Employers are trying to cut their losses early and screen out more people as quickly as they can", says Elisabeth Sanders-Park, co-author of LA Times Top 10 bestselling book “No One is Unemployable.”
Whatever your qualifications are, if they find anything less than ideal about you— say your picture at a wet t-shirt contest back in college, or the fact that you’ve been unemployed for 8 months— you’ll get screened out. Your experience and skills wouldn’t matter much.
But the difference between the people who get hired and those still unemployed isn't the obstacles they face, it’s their awareness and techniques in navigating said obstacles.
4 Job Search Obstacles Applicants Don’t Notice
Jargon in Job Descriptions
Jargon in the job description indicates the company is looking for a very specific candidate profile, so they’re trying to weed out applicants not familiar with the software, skills and tools listed in the job description. If you know what they’re talking about, make sure your resume and cover letter reflects that as well, otherwise you’ll be screened out.
Lack of “Proper” Motivation
Can you give the interviewer a “good enough” reason for changing jobs? If you can’t articulate your reason for leaving clearly, you’ll be branded as a job-hopper.
Hiring managers know that people only switch jobs if there’s something they really want but can’t get in their current roles, like a promotion, or a different role.
If your reason for leaving is a disagreement with your colleagues or boss, try to explain it in a way that doesn't make you look argumentative or disrespectful of authority. Be honest, but don’t badmouth your former co-workers, either.
Three years ago, a recruiter contacted an old client for a senior managerial position with a logistics company. The recruiter was impressed with her resume and work experience.
After the interview went well, Debbie was sure she’d get the job next week. That didn't happen though. The recruiter backed out after learning she had been unemployed for 8 months!
It turns out the hiring company is reluctant to hire anyone who’s been unemployed for more than 6 months. Unemployed people get screened out for a lot of jobs, because many employers mistakenly think they were fired due to poor job performance.
To counter this and fill the unemployment gap in your resume, you can take freelance projects or consultation work. You can volunteer, too. That way, hiring managers and recruiters can’t say that you’re unemployable or not skilled in what you do.
The Stink of Desperation
Another side effect of prolonged unemployment is desperation. When a hiring manager finds out you’ve been out of work for a while, he’ll probably assume that you’re desperate for a job. While that’s okay because you do need to earn a living, you are a risk in their point of view. Who knows if you’ll stick around when a better offer comes along?
In this case, try not to look desperate for a job. If you have other offers or interviews, mention that. The more in-demand you look, the better.
Are You a Good Fit?
Hiring managers put people in their shortlist because of their skills. But “in the end, the hiring decision isn’t about who has the strongest ability or skills, it’s about this thing we call fit”, says Sanders-Park.
Fit is a very subjective term that encompasses company culture, your work ethics, the company’s vision and your personality. Your qualifications will get your foot in the door, but the million dollar question is whether or not your personality will click-in with the team.
To make sure you’re a good fit in the hiring manager’s eyes, examine the company’s vision, about page and team bios (if any) before the interview. If there are pictures of their office, that will give you a clue of their work environment and systems. Can you see yourself working and making friends with those people?
Now, Onto You!
Yes, job seekers today face much more challenges than the previous generation. But despite the added obstacles, it’s not impossible to get a job.
Did you face any challenges or obstacles not mentioned here? I’d love to read your story.