It’s frustrating when you work hard to find a job and still come up with nothing. You have an up-to-date resume and you’re always completing applications correctly, double-checking dates and your experience. So, why are you falling short? We’ve compiled some common reasons for why your job hunt may not be working (including job search mistakes you might be making) and some tips to help build great habits to turn your job search around.
You should tailor your application or resume to the job you want. If you’re applying for a retail position at the mall, then the experience you add to your application should reflect your retail work. Likewise, if you want to apply for an administrative assistant role in an office setting, then your resume should include previous admin experience. Any other work, experience, or skills not relevant to the job you want should be left out. Not only does it make you look disorganized and unsure of what your job goals are, but most applications and resumes are passed through an application tracking system that picks up on keywords relevant to the job. And, by not tailoring your experience for the job, chances are you won’t be considered a viable applicant.
But what if you want to apply to a position that’s not quite an exact fit? Look at your transferable skills — these skills are abilities or talents you’ve developed over your career. Let’s say you’ve been a waitress for a few years, but you’re thinking about moving into a sales position at your favorite clothing store. Your transferable skills could include “team-player,” “friendly,” “quick-thinking,” and “customer service.” These skills you acquired as a waitress easily transfer to help make you a better fit for the retail job, even though this would be your first-ever retail sales position.
Instead of applying for every position you see, take some time to think about where you want to work, and identify key industries and career areas where you see yourself finding meaningful work. Start with the bigger picture and then narrow it down: You might enjoy working outdoors and with your hands — and you have a carpenter’s apprenticeship under your belt. Plus, you’ve always had an interest in history and architecture. A possible long-term career goal could be working your way toward a preservation carpenter role for historic buildings in your town. Likewise, let’s say you’ve had a few years of part-time retail experience and you’ve done everything from customer service to unloading products when the morning trucks come in. But you’re really looking for something full-time and with health benefits — and you’ve always had a passion for art. A possible stable, long-term goal for you could be a sales manager at an art gallery. Creating “big picture” goals like these will help you decide on your short-term goals, which in turn will form the basis of your career plan.
It’s not an easy thing to do and most people feel awkward trying to talk themselves up. But the reality is, the best person who knows you is YOU — you know your value, the skills and experience you offer, the results you’ve delivered for past employers, and the results you can deliver to future employers. Thinking of yourself in these ways doesn’t make you pushy, arrogant, or “salesy.” It makes you confident and competent — and very attractive to hiring managers.
Below are some points during a job interview when you can “sell” yourself:
“Tell me about yourself.” This is the perfect opportunity for you to promote your related experience and what you can offer. For example, an answer could be: “I’ve had more than 10 years experience as a security guard for various banking institutions, and I’ve been commended for my dependability and trustworthiness.” Listing your strengths Any time a recruiter asks questions about your strengths is an invitation to self-promote. “Why would you be a good fit?” and “Why should we hire you?” are great ways to talk about a previous time where you made a successful sale or you were able to calm an upset customer. Behavioral stories Most hiring managers include behavior questions during interviews. These are questions that start with “Tell me about a time when…” Again, this is a perfect time to talk about moments during your career where you showcased your strengths. For example, “Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond your job description?”
If a recruiter is preparing to offer you a job (or you’re in the close running for a position), they are most likely going to ask you for a list of references. These referrals are individuals you worked with in the past (or even in your current role) who can speak to your qualifications and personal character. Having the right job references can sometimes be a deciding factor in getting the job offer — and it’s best practice to figure out who your references are before you start your job search.
Key points when choosing references:
The best types of references are people who have high credibility in the eyes of employers (e.g., Managers, Directors, Senior Vice Presidents, Leaders) Individuals who can be available at the time you need the references Individuals who have great things to say about you and your work ethic
Your best bet is to contact previous managers, letting them know you’re looking for a new position, and then ask if they could be a reference. Sending them a current resume or a work summary is a good idea, so they’re brought up to speed on what you’ve been doing. Not providing your references with this detailed information will leave them unequipped to make the most positive statements about you possible.
Years ago before online job searching was available, people relied on word-of-mouth or ads in newspapers to find a job. Thanks to new technology, you can search and apply to thousands of positions online through job search sites (including Jobcase’s powerful search engine). You can also search for jobs offline. Handy offline job search resources include:
Finding a job can be stressful, and that same stress can build up over time if you don’t take the time for self-care. You may not even be aware, but people — and importantly employers — can sense your frustration, which will not help you land the job. Keep your job search on track by paying attention to your health: exercise daily, eat healthy, and get plenty of sleep. Managing your time is also helpful in stress management. A simple way of doing this is by organizing your job search with a daily calendar, noting when you apply for jobs, receive responses from hiring managers, and when you set up interviews.
Lastly — it’s ok to take a break once in a while. This doesn’t mean dropping your job search entirely, or taking a month off from looking for work. But there comes a time when you burn out from job searching and may need to step back from the process. Take a few days to reflect on what’s working in your life and how these successes make you happy. Spend time doing something that energizes you. Afterwards you’ll be able to return to the job search with a renewed sense of energy and purpose. So, take a deep breath. Re-evaluate what you’re looking for in terms of a job, and review the tips addressed above to get your job search back on the right track!