What Stands Between You and Your Dream Job? You Do.
If you’re in the job-hunting process, it may seem like the concept of landing your “perfect” job is far-fetched and out of reach. Especially if you’ve already faced a rejection or two (or many), you know it feels personal, and it can be hard not to get discouraged. The job-hunting process can be long, and it’s hard to get right back out there and keep at it when you feel like you’re getting nowhere.
There are many factors involved in the hiring process: timing, other candidates, the needs and requirements of the organization and the open role. However, despite all these outside variables, one factor is completely within your control: you. How you communicate, how you prepare, how you dress and how much time you put into the process are all things YOU determine.
So, if you’re wondering why you haven’t yet landed the job you want, you can’t always just chalk it up to bad luck. The reality is that today’s market is hot for talented employees – there is no lack of open roles out there right now. As an HR executive, I speak with lots of recent college graduates about job hunting. The common sentiment is that they can't understand why they aren't getting a job. My explanation is I can often see that the candidates are unfocused, unprepared and unrealistic in their expectations…and therefore unable to secure a job.
In a generation of participation trophies, some recent college graduates have been conditioned to believe that they are special and deserve the job, no questions asked. But the reality? You must put in the time and the hard work to get the job you want. There may be someone out there more qualified for the job than you, who made their resume stand out more, or came across in a more professional way. That doesn’t mean you aren’t deserving of a job – but keep in mind that you aren’t entitled to this one just because you applied.
Here are a few of the reasons why you might not be getting hired, and ways you adjust your mindset and your actions to be more successful in your job hunt.
You haven’t prepared well – and it shows.
Did you do your research about the company, the open role, and the people who are interviewing you? An objective of the interview is to learn more about the organization and the open role, but you must prepare ahead of time to show your interviewers you’ve learned all you can on your own. Show up to your interview with a list of questions that are specific to the company and the open position – and not ones that could be answered with a quick Google search. When the interviewer asks if you have any questions for them, the worst thing you can do is say no.
You come across like you don’t care.
An interviewer can tell whether you want to land just any job, or you’re specifically interested in THIS job. Prove that you care about the job you applied for and your desire to be a part of the organization. What excites you about the company and its mission? If you come across as indifferent, no one will have an interest in bringing you on board. You’re passionate and eager – so show that!
You have unrealistic expectations.
A job hunt takes time, and you’ll likely experience rejection before success. Be persistent and willing to put in the time. Stay organized in your job hunt with a spreadsheet to keep track of all your outstanding applications and communications. Set aside a few hours each day or week to sit down and focus on applications. The time you put in will pay off in the end.
Your resume isn’t polished.
Many recruiters and HR professionals will tell you that a mistake on a resume is the easiest way to weed out job candidates. Read yours over several times, then again, and again. Ask family members and friends to check for grammar and spelling mistakes that you might not have caught yourself. A polished, well-formatted, and mistake-free resume is one of the best ways to convey that you’re thoughtful, careful, and thorough.
You don’t appear professional.
A follow-up after the interview is non-negotiable. Send a thank you note within the same day that you have a conversation with someone, no matter who they are. All of your communications – over email AND in person – need to be professional, concise and polished. Showing up late to your interview, using poor grammar in your emails and not being timely in your responses are all signs of unprofessionalism.
If your interview is over video, iron out the technical logistics ahead of time. Check your network connection and turn off notifications that might pop up on your screen. Log in early and practice speaking into the camera. Check your background – it should be simple and distraction-free (and if it’s not, turn on a blurred or greenscreen Zoom background.) Ensure you’ll be in a quiet place for the duration of the conversation, and if any interruptions or technical difficulties occur, know that it can happen to anyone and they might not be within your control, but the way you react to them is.
Be professional, courteous of others’ time, polished and, most importantly, be willing to work hard to get what you want. If you do your research, show up prepared and convey your interest and your value, you are capable of getting the job you want.
You will get a job! Just keep trying and stay confident in yourself.
About Ann Walsh
Ann P. Walsh, SPHR, is a start-up Human Resource Executive with over 25 years of expertise in architecting and implementing global human capital strategies in high-growth, employee-first organizations. Ann has received certificates in leadership, management, conflict resolution, and negotiation from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School; design thinking from Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and diversity and inclusion at Cornell University's ILR School. She is a certified Senior Human Resources Professional (SPHR) and has a B.S. in finance from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.