Job Search Tips

Here are the 10 Reasons You Can’t Find a Job — And What You Can Do About It

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Written by Peter Jones

You know your worth. The problem is, the job market doesn’t seem to be getting it. If you find yourself increasingly frustrated with the fact that you can't find a job, then it might be time to ask yourself a few tough questions and then change tacks to make sure you’re presenting yourself in the best possible light for the world to see how wonderful and hirable you really are.

Here are 10 very common mistakes you might be making, that might be keeping you from getting hired.

1. Perceived Indifference

For some reason, your behavior projects as though you don’t really want the job. Perhaps you got a voicemail from a recruiter or hiring manager, but you didn’t return it promptly enough—assuming they would call you back if they were really interested—and then the opportunity passed.

Make it a point to respond to all possible job correspondence as swiftly and eagerly as possible, without looking desperate.

2. Carelessness

That spelling mistake in your resume should have taken you two minutes to catch if you had done a careful proofread. Make sure your materials are cleanly presented, free of typos and grammatical errors, and show that you put at least the minimum of effort into your application.

If you don’t have the careful eye required, have someone else proofread your materials and profiles for you.

3. You Look Flighty

You might have a good reason for hopping around from job to job. Say you were a full-time student until recently and were working odd jobs to keep yourself fed and clothed and housed. Unless you have a good narrative to explain your spotty history, leave off any jobs lasting fewer than three months. And then use the “About you” section or question to explain your situation. The key thing is to demonstrate that you are not a flight risk.

4. Poor Presentation

If you showed up scruffy and unshaven, with rumpled clothes, or—worse—you didn’t shower, then that could explain why you’re not converting interviews into offers. Take out your piercing, wear long sleeves over your tattoos, and comb your hair. Act professional and people will assume you can be treated (and hired) as such.

5. You're Overqualified

If you have a lot of fancy education, skills, and experience on your resume and you’re applying for jobs well below your pay grade, that might explain the lack of calls. Remember that entry-level jobs are meant for entry-level employees. Don’t bother to apply for them if you’ve moved beyond that stage in your career—no matter how much you want to get a job.

6. Smoking

Seriously, smoking is so 1992. If you come into an interview reeking of cigarettes, your potential employer is going to be turned off. They’ll also think that customers could potentially be turned off as well. Quit now. Your health and your career will thank you for it.

7. Bad Attitude

It might not be your fault that you’re depressed or frustrated. But it is your fault for showing it in an interview situation. Keep your anger about your job search frustration, or your lay-off, or your bad former boss to yourself. Be pleasant and positive and show yourself in your best light as a future coworker.

8. You Didn’t Pay Attention

The job posting is your best friend. It asks for specific materials and describes, specifically, what the company is looking for. Failure to read this carefully, and determine whether you can deliver what is asked, is all on you.

Do exactly what you’re asked to do. Follow the directions to the letter and prove to your potential boss that you can carry out whatever task she gives you—without having to be told twice.

9. Poor Communication

You talk too much or too little. Your interviewer has to coax monosyllabic answers out of you. You stray off the topic of the question. You can’t get your strong points across in words. Beef up your communication skills, and you should see a marked improvement.

10. You’re Not Prepared

You didn’t do your homework. You have no idea what the company does. You haven’t thought through why you are the perfect fit for this particular job and what you can do for the company. You don’t know enough about the industry. You don’t have a list of good questions to ask your interviewer, or good answers to her questions of you. You ask for a salary that is either far too high or too low for the job you’re applying for.

Don’t fall victim to this easiest trap of job seeking. Prepare, then prepare even more. You can never be too prepared.

Keep in mind lots of factors that have nothing to do with you could be affecting your job search. But lots of factors that you can and should fix could be too! Do a thorough self-search inventory to make sure you’re not sabotaging yourself. Then keep going. It could always be bad luck. Just keep at it, examine yourself for a tune-up now and then, and eventually you’ll get a breakthrough.

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