Maybe it’s ageism (you’re too old or too young). Or the economy; your industry isn’t hiring (except for your colleague who got the job you should have had). You don’t want to relocate; all the jobs are in a different part of the country. You took time off to stay home with your children; there’s a gap in your work history. You’re a realtor, and everyone knows as soon as the housing market bounces back, you’ll quit your job to go back to selling homes.
Sometimes these reasons affect your lack of interview opportunities. But often, other obstacles are keeping you from landing the job you want.
Before you blame any of the factors above, make sure you’re not making some classic mistakes. These could be the reasons you’re not getting hired:
1. Your resume is not targeted. The most important thing you can do is look closely at job descriptions and assess your resume. Evaluate how well you address the employer’s needs. If your resume about you, not about the next job, you’re probably selling yourself short and not communicating key points to convince an employer to interview you.
2. Your resume is about your past, not your future. Do you use a lot of jargon pertinent to previous positions or industries, but not relevant to your next job? You’re confusing the reader. To win an interview, your resume needs to help the reader envision you doing the advertised job. If you encourage the employer to picture you engaged in your previous position, you probably aren’t going to have a chance to sell yourself for the job.
3. The cover letter conundrum: either you’re not sending targeted cover letters or you’re relying on cover letters to make your case. Both may hurt your chances.
While some hiring managers or recruiters never look at cover letters, you’re just as likely to encounter someone who relies on a detailed, specific cover letter to seal an interview. Don’t be discouraged from writing a strong letter because some people will not review them; it can only help to include a letter detailing why you are a good match. Neglecting the cover letter may keep you out of the running for anyone who requires it, but never rely on the cover letter alone to make your case.
4. You’re not looking for the right job. It’s important to set career goals, but be sure they are realistic. If you’re not qualified for the jobs you’re applying for, it will be an uphill battle to convince someone to interview you, especially in a competitive market. If you need additional training or experience to land your dream job, get it before you waste your time applying.
5. Job boards are your primary job search tools. Some people do find opportunities via job boards, but the overall percentage of job seekers who successfully land simply by applying for jobs online is small. You’ll likely have more success landing interviews via job boards if you are looking for a job doing exactly what you did in the past and your qualifications (including education, skills, and experience) exactly match the descriptions of interest. If you are making a career change, trying for a promotion, or your qualifications are not an exact match, a job board strategy could be futile.
6. You project a negative attitude. It’s not rocket science; no one wants to spend time around people who always see the cup as half empty. If you’re feeling sorry for yourself, post a lot of pessimistic status updates on Facebook, and approach your job hunt unenthusiastically, it could be preventing you from gaining the buy-in you need from your contacts who are able to help you move to the interview stage.
7. You’re not networking in person. Never underestimate how important effective person-to-person networking can be for your job search. If you’re sitting at home, applying for jobs online, but not getting out and meeting people, you are missing opportunities to interact with people who may be willing to introduce you to key contacts who could help you secure interviews.
8. You are not participating in social (online) networking. While social media won’t get you an interview, having a complete profile on LinkedIn and engaging on platforms such as Twitter can help you expand your network, which helps you improve your chances to land interviews.
9. Your Google results are confusing or negative. When you apply for jobs, 89 percent of employers will search your name online. If they find unprofessional profiles or information inconsistent with your application, you could lose your chance for an interview. Clean up your profiles and eliminate information you can remove if it may be detrimental to your case. work on putting together an online profile of information you want employers to see.
Changing your approach or strategy in any of these nine areas can significantly improve your chances for an interview—and ultimately, for a job.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success. Connect with her via Twitter @Keppie_Careers.