Why Can’t I Find A Job?
Looking for a job is rarely an ego boosting experience. No matter what stage you are in your career. No matter how much experienced or how much boundless enthusiasm you possess. Finding a job can be a challenge. Job seekers face knockbacks and rejection in an unforgiving job market and typically receive no feedback from would-be employers that can help them. If self-doubt or a loss of motivation creeps in, it can really become an uphill battle.
But – don’t panic! Our latest blog aims to help you turbo-charge your job search and convert more of your applications into interviews. If you are a candidate struggling to find a new role, all we want you to do is take these hints and tips and then analyse your job search without emotion and with complete honesty as to what needs improving.
In a sense a job search is straight forward and we can break things down into three key areas:
- Your CV – is it good enough?
- How and where are you looking for work?
- What are you actually applying for?
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of subsections and variables in here, but I am a strong believer in keeping things simple.
Your CV – is it good enough?
You probably do (or you should) have a master copy of your CV. A complete version of your CV that gives a full and comprehensive overview of your career, education and tells employers what you want them to know about you.
Analyse this document, re-read it, spell check it, reassess the format, ask your friends and family to read it, and if needs be look at some examples of how a CV should be written. If your master CV has mistakes on it, then you are duplicating these errors with every application. I recently received a CV with a typing error on the candidate’s telephone number, many recruiters or potential employers would have tried once and dropped it in the bin.
Now, ask yourself; is this CV accounting for every moment of your professional existence? Have you missed anything or are there gaps that you have not explained? If so, fill the gaps with explanations be it travelling, job searching or temping. As a recruiter I hate gaps….you are allowing me to get creative and wonder if you were the victim of an alien abduction or a star on Crimewatch.
Maybe your CV is telling me you are job hopping? It is actually more common than you would imagine! You can not lie to me about the dates, but you can tell me about the new skills you learned, the achievements you have made and the personal development you have undertaken. Job hopping may not be viewed positively, but it needn’t be a weakness on your CV.
Let’s assume your CV is looking so sharp you would be prepared to hand it to your mother-law for evaluation! Well, the hard work does not stop there. You should be tailoring your CV to every job application you make.
You want your application to be as relevant as possible. The easiest way to do that is to take the job advert or description and match your application to it. If the advert wants a salesperson who has previously used CRM systems, put it on your CV. If the advert wants someone used to managing clients, put it on your CV. I hasten to add – do not lie. If you don’t have the experience don’t put it down. If you are right at the start of your career (we all start somewhere), highlight your skill-set and personal attributes.
You want to make it as easy as possible for a hiring manager to identify your relevant skillsets versus the job you are applying for.
How and where are you looking for work?
Are you being too one dimensional in how you job search? Job boards are a great way to find vacancies. Most job seekers I speak with tend to have one or two job boards they prefer and use regularly. That’s fine, but do not rule other job boards out of your search. I suggest you still open an account and post your CV onto sites so recruiters can find you. You do not have to use the job board, just open the account, log-in once a month to keep your profile active and maximize your chances of being found.
Recruitment agencies…okay, I’m biased! But as a job seeker be aware that recruitment agencies can only offer you a role that they have on their books. So be prepared to mix it up. Thinking about my own local market – you may have registered with a couple of recruitment agencies in Aldershot, but why stop there? Reach out and register with recruitment agencies in Farnham or recruitment agencies in Guildford. You maybe surprised at the options they have for you in your local town or just down the road. I understand some job seekers can be skeptical about some recruitment agencies. That is allowed. But if it is the difference between having a job and not having a job, I know what I would pick.
Social media has now become a valuable resource for job seekers. Depending upon what you are seeking, LinkedIn or Facebook could have the answer. This brings about a valuable point. If you are using social media to search for roles – what does your social media profile look like? Does your LinkedIn profile and your CV match? Does your Facebook page contain images of you and the lads hitting Blackpool and going large? Employers can and will check social media profiles, even more so if you are applying through those channels – so make sure you control the privacy settings and portray positives, not negatives about yourself.
Google Jobs…..welcome to the new world. Google obviously wish to be the ultimate search engine and they seem to be doing a good job. One of the latest features on offer is Google Jobs – a job board embedded in the heart of google. It has been live in the UK for just over a year (at the time of writing this). Job seekers seems unaware of Google Jobs, but I imagine it is only a matter of time before it is common knowledge.
Have you played fantasy companies? Maybe you know of local organisations that you have always dreamed of working for due to their reputation and employer branding. Maybe you know a small organisation that you have been a customer to and they have always impressed you…then send your CV through to them. The absolutely worst thing that happens is you are told there are no vacancies at this time, but you won’t know unless you try.
Job fairs…in my experience these can be slightly hit or miss. However, do your research, don’t build your expectations too high and give it a go. It beats the hell out of spending another day starring at your computer screen and it gives you a chance to mingle with companies wanting to hire, and fellow job seekers who can share experiences. Suddenly, you won’t feel so alone.
In short, not all of these avenues will necessarily be right for you, but the more options and the more opportunities you create and utilise the more empowered you will feel about your job search.
What are you actually applying for?
Most of us hit a couple of job boards and start scrolling through the options without having any real idea what we are looking for. In fact, if you haven’t had to search for work for a number of years it can be easy to feel overawed and discouraged by the sheer volume of options you are presented with.
Stop searching and gather your thoughts. Literally take a few hours or days if needs be to figure out what kind of role and which industry sectors you would like to work in. If you know what you are aiming for it is easier to hit the target!
Putting things another way; we live in a world where with the click of a button I could apply for a role in intelligence with MI5….but to be frank, I’m not expecting a phone call following up on my application! So be smart, pick industry sectors you are qualified to work in…and good luck to those of you who are qualified for MI5 and are about to start the recruitment process!!
Having identified your target areas, be realistic about what level you are applying for. If you are applying for roles that you are grossly over or under qualified for then the chances are the hiring manager will spot it and reject you. Think realistically about your salary expectations and what you are capable of.
As I said right up front, a job search can be a lonely and depression experience. You have to stay positive even when you are being slapped in the face with negativity! But, at the same time you must be self-critical and you must review how you are presenting yourself to employers.
Like many things in life, you can be doing all the right things but you just need a lucky break. So be patient, be realistic in your timelines of when you hope to find a new job. Do not be too tough on yourself.
I was once told finding a new job can be a full-time job in itself. Twenty years ago, yes, today with modern technology, I disagree. I don’t think you can sit 5 days a week, 7 hours a day searching for work without the risk of going completely bonkers! Don’t take my words as being an excuse to take it easy….you need to find the right balance for you in your job search. Bottom-line, if you can look in the mirror and honestly say you are doing all the right things then pat yourself on the back.
If you are still struggling for work and can not find a new job and just need some help, make contact with us here at The Recruitment Lab. We do not pretend to have all the answers, but sometimes just sharing a problem helps. Beyond that though I hope our latest blog has given you some ideas to consider when undertaking your job search.
About the Author
Simon Royston is the founder and Managing Director of The Recruitment Lab (A recruitment agency with offices in Aldershot and Brighton that offers employment services across Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and beyond). Simon lives in Guildford and has worked in Recruitment for over a decade. He has a degree and a masters in psychology as well as a diploma in Human Resource Management. If you would like to know more about anything written in this blog or would simply like to express your own thoughts and opinions do not hesitate to contact Simon through The Recruitment Lab website.