Why Can't I Find A Job? Turn Your Job Hunt Into Jobs [2020 Updated]

There is nothing quite like the frustration from trying to find a job but failing. That feeling of, why can't I find a job!?

It’s much more common than we think. Spending weeks or even months looking for a job and not getting one may feel like a massive personal failure. Realistically, it’s something a vast majority of people deal with at least once in their lives. At times it feels like no matter how active in the job market one can be, securing an interview or getting a callback is almost impossible.

Don’t worry. Not all is lost! We put together a guide to understanding what it takes to land a job interview and some questions all job seekers need to ask themselves in order to correct issues in their job-seeking plan.

What Does It Take to Get a Job Interview?

There are multiple factors involved in landing an interview and getting the job:

  • How many jobs you apply to
  • Having the right materials in your resume
  • Including a cover letter

Consider the number of jobs you’re applying for. If you’ve only applied to a handful of jobs, you may not be covering enough bases. It is always wise to spend a day sitting down and looking through job boards, and applying to as many relevant jobs as possible.

Note: While you should be “bulk applying” to positions, it is important that you’re applying to jobs that you actually qualify for, rather than every job you come across.

There are a ton of great places online to search for and apply for jobs. Here are just a few:

  • Monster
  • CareerBuilder
  • SimplyHired
  • Indeed
  • Job.com
  • Craigslist
  • LinkedIn
  • Glassdoor
  • A simple Google search

Before applying to any job, it is extremely important to have the right materials included in your resume. Every resume, no matter the position, should include:

  • Your contact information
  • Your education
  • Your job history, preferably the last three positions you held
  • A list of marketable skills
  • References
  • A “mission statement” at the top of the page detailing what you are and what you’re looking for in a position, between 2-3 sentences
  • Volunteer history
  • Awards and achievements

Some job positions require a little more information. For example, a graphic design position will often require a resume in addition to a portfolio of artwork. Be sure to read the job post in detail to know what materials you’ll need to include on your resume. Keep in mind that from job posting to job posting, you may have to customize your resume for each one.

Pro tip: Monster.com see’s roughly 427,000 resumes posted each week. If you feel like posting your resume to a large job search site like this will be helpful in your job search, it won’t.

A cover letter is also very important to include. No cover letter should be identical for each job application. In your cover letter, detail why you want the job, why you’re a good fit for the job, and why you want to work for that company in particular.

Questions All Jobseekers Need to Ask Themselves

If you’ve been sending out resumes and just not getting any bites, you may need to ask yourself a few core questions.

Is My Resume Accurate?

Take a good look through your resume and double-check for grammatical and spelling errors. Make sure every single bit of information is correct. If something is incorrect, your potential employers may have tried to verify something and came up empty. That’s a great way to miss a job opportunity.

Also ask yourself: “Does my resume align with the job I am applying for?” For example, say you are applying for a management position at a company. Your resume does not detail any management or leadership experience at all, but rather includes a long history of working in customer service and sales. Your resume may simply not be aligned with the type of positions you’re looking for. When doing a job search, really look at the fine detail in the job descriptions of what the company wants when it comes to experience and skills.

Is My Cover Letter Customized to the Job and Company I’m Applying to?

We mentioned earlier that no cover letter should be a “copy and paste” document for different positions. This is because a cover letter is a personalized document that states why you are different from the rest, and why you are the best fit for the job. Think of your cover letter as a “pitch” to hiring managers.

Make sure to customize your cover letter for each position you apply for. If you've never written a cover letter before, try researching some templates and samples for your own letter.

Where is the Position, Geographically?

Are you applying for remote positions? A remote position is a job that can be done remotely from home, usually online. Remote positions can involve writing, freelancing, data entry, etc. If you’re looking for remote positions, you don’t have to worry about the “geographical” issue.

However, if you’re applying to jobs with a physical location, consider if you’re applying to a close enough position. It often doesn’t matter how willing you are to make an hour drive each day to work. Employers don’t want to risk hiring an out-of-town employee and having to deal with tardiness and transportation issues in the future. You'll have to convince the employer more so than other candidates that you are perfect for the position, which may end up fruitless.

It’s always good practice to look for a job position that is within eight to ten miles from where you live. Your chances of landing an interview will be much better.

Am I Applying For a Relatively New Type of Job Function?

We live in a world where technology is constantly changing. New innovations and business solutions are popping up everywhere, as well as totally new industries.

Consider how new your preferred job function is. Are you an AI expert? Or a blockchain developer or application sales executive? These are all pretty new jobs that are currently emerging. But growth takes a long time, so you may not have success in finding positions related to emerging jobs within the next couple of years.

It is certainly always worth trying. Always include a new type of job function or skill in your resume. For example: Say you are an AI expert with project management experience who applies for, interviews for and lands a job at a tech company as a project manager for an IT team. As technology progresses, that company may start looking into automation in a few years. You have the experience with that type of job function and you have a rapport with the company. It is definitely not a fruitless venture.

How to Find a Job and Land an Interview

Landing a job can be as simple as following a few steps. Let’s look at what you can do if you’re not getting interviews, or if you are getting interviews but constantly get rejected.

No Interviews? No Problem

If your problem is not enough interviews, then you are simply not applying to enough jobs. As we mentioned earlier, brew a pot of coffee and spend a weekend surfing job boards and applying to as many open positions that you qualify for as possible.

Keep this timeline in mind to make sure you’re covering your bases:

  • Proofread and perfect your resume.
  • Create a “template” cover letter that you can edit and change for each position you apply to.
  • Check multiple job boards rather than just one or two.
  • Read the job descriptions in depth to determine…
  • If the position is remote or within eight to ten miles of your location.
  • If you qualify for the job.
  • Whether your resume aligns with the job or not.
  • If the position has room for growth, especially if you qualify for a job function that is new and growing.
  • Set a goal to apply to 15-20 different positions through the weekend.

This may seem like a lot of work. However, landing a job takes a lot of work. Especially if it’s for a position or function that you really want.

Getting Turned Down After Interviews and Making Changes

Let’s say you’ve done everything you possibly can to land interviews, and you’re actually getting quite a few interview opportunities. However, after each interview, you never seem to get a callback.

This isn’t necessarily a bad reflection of you as a person or as an employee. Rather, there may be a few issues with your interview presence that you’re just not noticing.

This is where mentorship comes in handy. If your problem is that you are getting turned down after the interview, or not hearing back from them at all-- try speaking with a mentor or friend. Preferably a mentor or friend that has worked as a hiring manager or has a lot of job interview experience.

Have them stage a mock interview with you. Afterward, ask what you might have done wrong during the interview. Make sure your answers during the mock interview are tailored to the company and position you are applying for.

You should also ask your hiring manager for the last interview you did for feedback. You can do this when they call you to give you a formal rejection, or you can send them an email after the interview. Most interviewers and hiring managers won’t bite, but it is certainly worth a try!

A lot of the time, the issue can involve a lot of small issues. You may not have seemed prepared, you did not dress appropriately, or you simply did not pitch yourself well. These are all things you can practice and improve on with a little bit of time and work.

Improving Your Odds Of Finding A Job

You may be asking yourself, “How can I improve my odds?” Luckily, you have all of the power and resources in the world to improve your job marketability. It just may take a little bit of extra work and self-reflection.

The first thing you should do is ask previous employers for letters of recommendation. You can also ask former professors or professional peers or colleagues for recommendation letters as well. Nothing boosts a potential employee’s appearance quite like praise from people they have worked with.

During interviews, be mindful of your body language and appearance. Always start with a warm introduction and a handshake. Make yourself stand out by being extremely prepared with your appearance, resume, cover letter, and other materials. You can also improve your interview success by researching the company you’re applying for. To hiring managers, this will make you seem more invested in being a part of the company rather than just someone looking for a quick buck.

Job Hunting FAQ's

Below are common job seeker questions asked by job hunters.

Will including my LinkedIn profile increase my chances of receiving employment?

Not really. Your previous work experience will be more applicable to your job hunt. Though, listing your LinkedIn profile can be beneficial if you speak frequently about your industry or work.

Maybe my resume is lacking transferrable skills and that's why I cannot find employment?

Skills are important to mention in your resume. But the best way to mention your skills is by referencing previous work accomplishments as a way to portray your work experience. Be sure your resume contains a healthy amount of accomplishments.

Maybe it's because I only have a bachelor's degree, should I seek an MBA to find employment?

Education, in most circumstances, if rarely what employers are looking for. They want raw experience and the ability to drive business objectives. Unless you're a teacher or scientist, you should not seek an MBA or Master's Degree if you can't find employment.

Should I include my volunteer work on my resume?

Absolutely. If your resume appears too "thin", then including volunteer work can be a great way to add prior work experience.

Maybe my resume is getting flagged by applicant tracking systems?

It could be. Be sure you aren't using too many keywords in your resume. This would be a word like "significant" or "spearheaded" far too frequently. Diversify how you speak about your work.

Should I include my social media accounts on my resume?

No, you should not. Only your personal website or other professional online references. Your potential employer wants to know who you are as a professional. This means to avoid social media accounts being listed on your resume.

What's the best way to get a job offer?

Don't stop applying for jobs. The moment you stop applying is the moment that you don't receive a job.

Should I look for a minimum wage job while I look for my higher paying job?

A minimum wage job will surely be easier to get. Even if you are over qualified. It is a great idea to find some type of employment versus having a long unemployment record on your resume. And it starts to bring in money that you need to survive. Try to remember that a job is simply someone paying you money. Try to take your ego out of the equation.

Should I file for unemployment if I can't find a job?

If you are eligible for unemployment, you certainly can and should.

Should I go to job fairs if I can't find a job?

You should be exhausting all efforts you can. Job fairs are a great way to get connected with recruiters.

What's your best advice for recent college graduates who can't find a job?

Try to get an internship. Ideally, it's a paid internship. Or look for an entry-level position while you work on your resume and cover letter to land your dream job.

Should I seek a career coach if I can't find a job?

A career coach could help. Although, they will charge you. Ideally, you could apprentice with someone or find an advisor who could help you.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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