If you've been applying to hundreds of job positions and still haven't yet scored a job, you might be doing something wrong. Don't feel glum, though — the good news is you can fix this! First, let's explore the possible reasons why you haven't been getting the job.
1. You're attributing everything to luck
Bummer, you just faced another rejection. "Woe is me," you might think. "Why is my luck so bad?" Well, if you keep getting rejected, you could potentially be at fault. First, stop blaming it on luck, and work on amping up your interview skills and résumé. The job market may be bad, but there are still people around you getting jobs. Talk to and learn from them. Figure out how to place yourself in the best position possible so that when an opportunity comes along, you'll be a prime candidate. And perhaps the hiring manager can give you honest feedback on why you didn't get the job. It's rare, but it happens!
2. You're not networking
These days, finding a job is about more than just submitting applications online. You need to be out there and workin' it. This means attending events in your industry, going to networking shindigs, meeting up with potential connectors, and updating your LinkedIn. Hiring managers receive a ton of applications, so having an inside referral will increase your chances of scoring an interview.
3. You're careless
Typos in your résumé, not doing research on the company before your interview — these are some careless mistakes that can easily nix you as a candidate. I've prepped with friends who say they are well prepared but still make these careless mistakes, so it's essential to keep practicing.
3. You're not focused
You're blasting out your résumé to hundreds of companies, hoping that one will take the bait. You're under the assumption that the more you apply, the higher your chances will be of scoring a job. But, there is a difference between wanting the job and wanting a job. Employers don't like seeing that you'll take whatever you can get, and you may come across that way if you have the "I'll take anything" mentality. Be smart about applying for jobs, and pick the ones you are excited about and have a better chance of getting.
4. Your résumé is weak
If you're not even scoring an interview, there are a couple of possibilities. One is your résumé needs a face-lift. Another is that the hiring manager is inundated with too many applications and missed yours — this can be bypassed by getting someone to refer you internally. Get friends and mentors to look over your résumé, and make sure each résumé is tailored to the job listing. Remember to watch out for these résumé red flags. And if your résumé looks a little empty, start padding it by taking on things like internships, contract jobs, or volunteer opportunities.
5. You're not articulating well
OK, so you made it to the interview round, but you're just not getting a call back after the interview (here are some possible reasons why). It's time to brush up on your interviewing skills. Prep with your friends, and do your homework on the company. Ask your friends to surprise you with questions that aren't the typical interview queries so you'll be prepared for off-the-cuff answers. Here are some of the most common interview questions and how to answer them.
6. You panicked during the interview
Maybe you were thrown by a question and panicked, but the key is to calmly work through the situation. Take a few deep breaths, and take a moment to think about how you should respond. Remember: don't worry about getting the answer right — do your best to show the hiring manager your thought process and how you would figure out the answer. Here are more tips to answering a question you don't know how to answer.
7. You're not selling your potential
Most of the time, employers are looking ahead and hiring you based on your potential and not your accomplishments. A 2012 study by Stanford and Harvard found that companies favor candidates who have potential versus ones who have already proven their potential through accomplishments. This is good news for those who are applying for positions they are slightly underqualified for or who have less experience under their belt. But this also means that people who are more accomplished should avoid complacency and really hone their interview skills. The theory is that people want to stumble upon "the next big thing," and it's more tempting to be hopeful of what someone can do and envision a future with them. The key to really evoking this reaction in your hiring managers is to talk more about what you can do for the company versus what you've already done.
8. You're not a self-starter
Hiring managers want employees who take the initiative, because they don't want to hold your hand through everything. They want someone who can bring fresh ideas to the table and has leadership traits. World Bank President Jim Kim explains the value of leadership skills best when he said, "Leadership is not about being the head of a large organization. It's about making groups more effective. And almost no matter what you do, better leadership skills will help."