Job Search

5 Reasons Your Job Search Isn’t Working

broken job

There are potentially hundreds of reasons you haven’t been able to land that next big job. But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying!

While there are no guaranteed ways to land a job every time you apply, there are steps you can take to increase your chances.

Here are some of the top mistakes we see job seekers make that hold them back:

  1. You don’t use keywords in your resume.  If you apply to jobs online or through HR departments, you need to sprinkle keywords through your resume. Your social profiles and cover letters should contain pertinent key words as well.  When applying to a specific job, tailor your resume to be sure that it includes some of the keywords that appear in the job description.
  2. You apply to dozens, even hundreds, of jobs online.  So much is wrong with trying to find a job this way it might deserve its own list. With thousands of people applying to every job, your odds of getting one by throwing your resume into the black hole are pretty darn low. Some other problems with this approach:
    -If you are applying for that many jobs, you probably don’t know what you want, other than a new job.
    -You probably aren’t customizing your resume and cover letter.
    -You are fooling yourself into thinking you are doing a lot to find a job, when the truth is you aren’t doing enough.
    -You may soon get discouraged, too.
    Every job seeker should use a wide range of vehicles to get to their next job, including recruiters, networking, answering ads, and social media.
  3. You don’t want to network. When people say this, and many of them do, it usually means they network only when they need a new job. Of course that feels awkward and forced. You feel uncomfortable and you probably make other people uncomfortable as well. Take a long-range view of networking and regularly make the time to help others in your industry through referrals and recommendations, sharing articles and research, and attending panels and events. If you are among those who say they hate small talk or aren’t good at meeting new people, learn to be. Master a graceful way to introduce yourself and then take the focus off yourself. Ask questions. Be curious about other people and the world and you might even find yourself enjoying networking.
  4. You don’t keep in touch with former colleagues. Companies love to hire people recommended by their own employees, so staying in touch with people you worked well with in the past can be the best thing you do for your career.
  5. You don’t write cover letters. No matter how many people tell you that no one reads cover letters anymore, write them. Sure, some managers might not care about them, but that’s impossible for a job seeker to know. More important, a good cover letter can set you apart. No one expects you to be Shakespeare, but craft a few paragraphs that explain what you can do for that company. Keep it short—three paragraphs are fine. And spellcheck.

About the Author

Susan Price has been writing about careers, entrepreneurs and personal finance for more than a decade. She’s been an editor at BusinessWeek, Money, and iVillage.com, among others.