I hear it a lot “I’VE APPLIED EVERYWHERE – WHY CAN’T I FIND A JOB? Especially with the current recession and, as I write this, an unemployment rate of over 9% – there is no arguing that it’s a lousy job market out there. So what do I say to someone who has been looking for a while and still hasn’t found anything? Here’s the scoop: There are several possible reasons why you haven’t found work yet. But before reading on, prepare yourself. You may not like them.

  • You are applying “everywhere.” Don’t apply everywhere. Be strategic and do your research, then only apply to those positions for which you have a real shot. Conduct informational interviews at companies that are advertising openings to learn more. Make sure everyone you know is aware that you are looking, put together a quick statement about what you want and memorize it. Someone you know knows someone who is hiring!
  • You have not packaged yourself properly. In this case there is something wrong with your resume, or with the way you applied for the position. You wouldn’t believe how many resumes have typos in them! Many resumes are formatted in a way that can’t be scanned by the computer programs many larger organizations use to match candidates with jobs. Other resumes provide too much or too little information. Solution? Do your research, make sure you are using the right format for your industry, and ask a trusted friend to proofread!
  • The economy in your area may be poor. You may need to consider relocating.You have spent a number of years doing the same thing and have not kept your skills up to date. If you are unemployed, use the time you have to update your skills. There are many free resources on the internet that can help you.
  • Something is happening in the interview. There is likely heavy competition for the job you want. That means you have to make a very good case for yourself.  It can’t hurt to call back after you know the job has been filled and say “Hi, this is Sarah. I know the position I interviewed for has been filled. But, I was hoping you could help me out – is there any advice you would give me for my next interview?” You may get lucky and learn some valuable information.

Here are five mistakes candidates who were equally qualified for a job (at least on paper) made in their interviews. If any of these sound familiar – you may have your answer as to why you haven’t gotten an offer yet!

  • Her cell phone rang during the interview. She reached in her pocket, looked at the caller ID and said, “I need to take this, I’ll just be a sec…” and proceeding to make beach plans for the weekend. Then, she hung up and said “Sorry, that was important…” So is MY time – Bye!
  • He arrived early and looked very sharp and professional. The interviews were running about 30 minutes late, which happens sometimes. He spent that time harassing the receptionist and huffing and puffing about how rude we were to keep him waiting. Did he think we wouldn’t find out?
  • Oops, didn’t allow enough time and arrived 15 minutes late for her interview. Sorry, guess you’ll have to sell yourself in half the time allotted!
  • What’s that smell? You try sitting behind a closed door in a small office with a young man who bathed in aftershave. Yuck!
  • After a sincere effort on the interviewer’s part to learn more about the candidate’s great experience, it became clear that she had embellished her resume. It started with her glassy-eyed stare when asked about the most difficult supervisory experience she’s faced, and ended with her leaving the office in tears. Don’t lie.

The GOOD news is that there’s something you can do about nearly all of these explanations if you are committed and put your mind to it.