If you're applying for jobs but not finding success, you may be wondering whether you're doing something wrong.
Becoming the top candidate isn’t easy, but you can take steps to improve your chances.
The solution will depend on your situation.
Are you applying for jobs and not getting an interview? Are you getting turned down after the first interview? Or are you having multiple interviews but missing out at the final stage?
No matter where you are getting stuck in the application process, you’ve come to the right place.
In the following article, we’re going to explain why finding a job is difficult. Plus, we’ll share some of the most common mistakes you could be making with tips to overcome them.
Finding a job can be difficult, and your job search may be limited by factors you can't control.
For example, the pandemic has seen businesses close and people lose their jobs. This has resulted in fewer job opportunities with more applicants.
If you’re on the hunt for a new job, you should expect some fierce competition. There are currently 6.6 million job seekers searching for work, and hiring managers are looking for people who stand out.
Depending on your industry, certain jobs may be in high demand. For example, administration and management positions are competitive. On the other hand, entry-level positions in healthcare and retail are often available.
It's not all gloom and doom. There are ways you can get noticed for all the right reasons and secure your next job.
If you’re having trouble finding a job, you aren’t alone. In order to help increase your chances of getting a new position, there are a few things you can do to stand out.
Whether you’re not getting past the resume stage or you’re missing out after the final interview, the solution could be simple.
Are you making one of these three common job seeker mistakes?
When you’ve been busy filling out applications and uploading your cover letter and resume, the last thing you want to hear is silence.
If you’re putting in the commitment but not getting asked to an interview, you could be making one of these common mistakes.
It all starts with your resume.
These days, many hiring managers are using applicant tracking systems (ATS) to filter resumes. If your resume isn’t ATS-compliant, your details may never even make it to a real person.
Other red flags for employers include poor grammar and spelling and large gaps in your resume. If your application is too generic and doesn’t match the criteria in the job posting, you may miss out on an interview.
For those applying for jobs in a competitive industry, every small detail matters.
What you can do to improve your chances of getting a callback
When was the last time you updated your cover letter and resume?
Your cover letter is a one-page document featuring a summary of your work experience and suitability for the position.
It should be customized for every job you’re applying for by addressing any key criteria listed in the job description.
Don’t forget to reference the job title and address the letter to the hiring manager.
Your resume should list your job history in chronological order.
It should include details of your previous roles and education. Be sure to include the job title and any relevant duties for the position — for example, you may have management experience or spent time working in accounts.
If it’s a large company, they’ll likely use an ATS. To make sure your resume is ATS-friendly, you should customize your application to the position, use legible fonts, and avoid images and borders.
Read more top tips on how to make your resume ATS-friendly.
You should check both your resume and cover letter for spelling and grammatical errors. Make sure your contact details are up-to-date, including your email address and phone number.
Think about whether the jobs you are applying for fit your skills and experience. You may be getting overlooked because you don’t tick all of the boxes. Consider taking a short course to learn new skills to make your resume more appealing.
Remember to apply, apply, apply.
Job searching should be a full-time commitment if possible. The more jobs you apply for with a quality cover letter and resume, the better chance you have of securing an interview.
Have you been asked to attend interviews but are not getting any further? If the answer is yes, you could be making common interview mistakes.
You may not have prepared your answers to common interview questions, or your answers may not be relevant to the position. You may not have researched the company, or you may have gaps in your work history that you haven’t been able to explain.
Little things matter, and being too late or too early can ruin your chances of getting a job.
If your body language is defensive, or you come dressed in the wrong attire, it won’t give the right first impression.
Other deal-breakers include a negative attitude, poor personal hygiene, and making inappropriate jokes.
What you can do to improve your first job interview skills
The good news is that you can fix all of these mistakes. To improve your interview skills, take the time to practice your answers.
Some common interview questions include:
Tell me about yourself
Why do you want to work here?
Why should we hire you?
What’s your biggest weakness?
Be prepared to explain any periods of unemployment. To help you plan your answer, view our resource on how to talk about gaps in your resume.
Next, you should think about your attire. You should avoid wearing casual clothing and stick to closed-toed dress shoes, a pair of pants or a knee-length skirt, and a collared shirt.
Never wear jeans or sneakers to a job interview. Go easy on the jewelry and make sure your hair is washed and neatly styled. Arrive 10–15 minutes before the interview, but no earlier.
Think about your body language. Are you making eye contact? Are your arms relaxed and not crossed? Are you sitting up straight and not slouching?
If you feel as though you’ve done everything right, don’t be afraid to follow up and ask for feedback, so you know exactly what to work on for your next interview.
When you’ve gotten through the application process and progressed through the interviews, it can be devastating to miss out at the end.
There could be different reasons why you’re not getting the job. For example, you may have lost the position to a candidate with higher qualifications or more experience.
Or you may not have researched and understood the company or its culture.
Remember, the hiring manager is not only looking to see whether you have the required skills but also if you’d fit in an existing team.
Your references may be irrelevant or not supportive of your job-seeking goals.
Finally, the recruiter may have felt you aren’t a genuine candidate looking for a long-term career at the company. Onboarding new staff takes time and money, and they want to make sure you’re a worthwhile investment.
What you can do to improve your chances of getting a job offer
To increase your chances of getting the job, think about why you want to work there. Can you see yourself as part of the bigger company picture?
If you are genuine about a career with the company, make sure your answers reflect this.
For example, the hiring manager may ask, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” You can mention the company in your answer and how you hope to take advantage of leadership training opportunities.
If you are losing jobs to candidates with higher qualifications, think about updating your skills. Many courses are now available online, and you can study at your own pace.
Take the time to update your references. Are they still relevant? Check in with them to determine whether they’re still happy to vouch for you.
Once again, if the hiring manager hasn’t offered you a reason why you missed out, you should ask for one.
The job market is competitive, and if you can’t find a job, don’t be too hard on yourself. Try to stay positive and keep trying because sometimes it can just be bad luck.
It can come down to who you know, and networking can be beneficial. You can use social media platforms such as LinkedIn or ask friends to share connections.
While you’re waiting to get a job, you can try volunteering.
While you’re helping others, you’ll be gaining valuable experience and skills that you can add to your resume.
For those in a competitive or dying industry, it may be time to consider a new career path. You can take the “What job should I have?” quiz for inspiration.
Remember to keep applying. You can sign up to receive alerts from job boards such as Jobcase and attend any local job fairs.
If you've been looking for a new job but are not getting a job offer, there are a few ways you can improve your chances.
We've covered a range of areas to work on depending on where you get stuck in the application process.
Always read the job listings carefully, and customize your resume and cover letter to each application. Consider whether there are any areas you need to work on, such as skills training or experience.
If you make it to the interview stage, always practice your interview questions ahead of time, and be mindful of your body language.
Remember, it's not your fault if you don’t get an offer straight away. Stay positive, and keep applying. You’ve got this.
Your next job could be closer than you think.