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By Khalilah Starks

“I’ve been looking for a job for 2 years.”

“I’ve applied to 50 jobs and still no interview.”

I hear this all too often.  And, then after I ask a few questions, it becomes crystal clear why the person hasn’t been successful in landing a job.  It has nothing to do with the employment market being tough.  There are lots of jobs out there and employers struggle to find good talent.

So, if you’re like many of the people who have struggled to find work, here are my top reasons why you’re probably having a hard time:

1. Your Resume Sucks.

Yep, I said it and I’ll say it again.  Your resume sucks.  But, instead of a company calling you to tell you that your resume sucks, they simply don’t call.  And, then you shrug it off, thinking that the lack of phone calls has to do with the economy.  It’s not the economy.  I’ve seen some pretty bad resumes – poorly written, old school type font, grammatical errors, typos, too much white space, not enough white space, etc.  These are applicants that may have been qualified for the position, but failed to market the skills that were required for the job in a professionally written and formatted document.

I’ve got great news though.  There’s an easy fix for this.  You can get a resume professionally written, which I highly recommend.  Or you can take some time to learn the necessary steps to write an outstanding resume yourself.  In addition to being visually appealing, your resume must market the skills and experience that are necessary for the position that you’re seeking and communicate the results and accomplishments that you’ve achieved so that you stand out.  And, don’t forget those industry buzz words and strong action verbs either.

2. You Refuse to Accept That It’s Not Just What You Know, It’s Who You Know.

70-80% of jobs aren’t advertised.  So, while you’re sitting behind that computer and applying to every position that you see on Indeed or CareerBuilder, you’re missing out on tons of positions that you’ll never hear about unless you broaden your network.  While these job search engines are certainly necessary, they should only be a segment of your job search strategy.  Employee referrals receive more attention than applicants who apply to job postings.  So, it’s always recommended that you apply to a position through someone that you know at the company as opposed to blindly applying online.

Gaining access to a larger number of opportunities is all about who you know.  But, until you expand your network, you’ll continue to lose out on great positions that are clinched by those who are in the know.

3. You Focus Too Much On You, Instead of The Company.

I call this the You-Centric approach.  It’s all about you – the skills that YOU think are important, the accomplishments that YOU are most proud of.  And, these are the things that you focus on in the interview.  Newsflash: It’s not about you. The interview is about company’s needs.  And, your task is to show how you’ll meet their needs.  There are lots of reasons why you’re great, but only a few reasons that the company will actually care about.

Companies seek to hire the perfect match – the person whose experience and skills most closely matches the position’s requirements.  The position’s requirements are their needs.  Your job is to determine their needs and prepare a strategy to communicate your ability to fill those needs.

4. You’re All Over The Place.

You’ve applied to ten different positions in different fields with varying skill and experience requirements – all using the same resume.  You’ll pretty much apply to anything figuring that you’re bound to hear something from somebody.  But, then you don’t hear anything or receive the dreaded “thank you, but no thank you email” and you contribute it to a tough economy.  I’m here to tell you that the phone isn’t ringing because of you.  It has nothing to do with the economy and everything to do with your lack of focus.

Like I said before, companies are looking for the perfect match to their position.  So, every resume that you submit must be extremely targeted to the position.  It has to make sense to the recruiter why you’re applying.  If you’re using the same resume to apply to ten different positions, there’s no way that your resume can be a match.

Quick fix: Always review your resume prior to applying to a position to determine if it’s a match with the position.  Does your resume address every requirement that is listed for the position?  Does it include buzz words from the posting?  Please note: it’s not enough to tailor your cover letter.  Often times, the cover letter doesn’t get read unless the resume passes the initial screen.  Recruiters are busy and many won’t waste time reading a cover letter if the resume doesn’t make the 30 second cut.

5. You’re Applying to The Wrong Jobs.

I’ll avoid too much redundancy here.  If you’ve been skimming this post, you’ll want to pay close attention to #3 and #4 on my list.  But again, this has to do with the concept of matching.  If you’re applying to a position that doesn’t match your skills and qualifications, you’re wasting your time.

6. You’ve Accepted That Your Deficiency or Weakness Should Hold You Back.

Your thoughts: I’ve been unemployed for a year, so why would someone want to hire me?  I was fired from my last job, how am I going to explain that?  I don’t have a degree.

You’ve got some issues.  Perhaps, you’ve been rejected a few times.  But, instead of looking at it as a challenge that you can overcome, you become passive in your job search process.  This is absolutely the worst thing that you can do.  You’ve got to get even more active when you have deficiencies.  The truth is we all have some type of deficiency or weakness.  The difference between success and failure is your ability to address your weaknesses head on and prepare responses to the tough questions that you’ll get in order to create a positive outcome.

So what if you’ve been unemployed for year.  You’ve been consulting, volunteering, and building your personal brand during your time off.  So what if you were fired.  You were able to get some great experience, but ultimately you’re excited to pursue a job that will be a better fit and provide you with a different type of experience.  So what if you don’t have a degree.  You have great experience and you plan to pursue your degree because you understand the value of education in addition to practical experience.  Get it?  It all comes down to putting a positive spin on whatever your situation is and focusing on the future.

7. You’re Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again, Expecting a Different Result.

If you’ve been looking for a job for several months with few leads, you’re doing something wrong.  You owe it to yourself to figure it out.  It’s probably something as simple as a better resume or more polished interviewing skills.  It may be your job search strategy.  Whatever it is, it can be changed.  The key word here is CHANGE.  Do something different.


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