"Why Can't I Land a Job?!"

Suggestions for qualified job-seekers who keep getting rejected.

Posted Aug 06, 2018

Mashable, labeled for reuse
Source: Mashable, labeled for reuse

So often, my clients apply for jobs they feel well qualified for, apply solid tactics in writing the cover letter,  collateral material, and in interviews and follow-up. So they're optimistic and then, they don’t get the job—and that occurs in job application after job application.

Not infrequently, they learn of who got the job and are shocked or angry, “That person was far less qualified than I am!”

What’s a good job seeker who’s constantly passed over to do? The following ideas are derived from my new book, Careers for Dummies.

Looking inward

It’s easy to blame your rejections on external factors such as age, race, and gender.  And yes, sometimes, those are at play, but it doesn’t serve you to focus on the immutable unless you want to become an social activist to reduce those factors' impact on hiring.

So first, imagine that you were the employer who was hiring purely on the merits. Would you likely be the #1 pick? If not, do you want to upskill? Improve your attitude?

Reacting outward

It’s become cliché that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again yet expecting a different result. If your repeated efforts haven’t yielded a good job, do you need to do something different? For example, should you change your job target downward or, yes upward? Or to a geographic area where you'd be more desirable?  Or to a smaller or larger company, non-profit, or government agency? To more broadly Invoke your network to tout you when you've applied for a job or to help you get informational interviews with people who could make you an inside candidate when an appropriate job comes available or even create a job for you? Should your applications include collateral material such as a white paper that summarizes your thinking on how to do the target job well? Or do you simply need to job-search more thoroughly. Many people do a drips-and-drabs job search, applying for just a couple jobs a week and doing minimal networking.  As a result, they may well give up before getting a decent job. This article describes what a thorough job search looks like.

If you’ve tried the above or doubt they'll work for you, is it time to consider self-employment? The person who tries unsuccessfully to be employed by others and so feels forced to be self-employed is rarely a natural entrepreneur. So it’s usually wise for such people to consider low-risk self-employment. See my article on that.

The takeaway

Even though the unemployment rate is the lowest in 50 years, many good people still can’t find good employment. You see, the unemployment rate is misleading—It doesn’t count the millions of people who have given up on looking for a job or who are employed but only in a low-pay interim job, for example, that cliche of the degree-holding barista or Uber driver.

I do hope that even if you’ve been rejected ad nauseam, the ideas in this article offer realistic reason for hope.

I read this article aloud on YouTube.

This article is part of a series: "Why Not Me?" The other installments are:

"Why Can't I Get Into Graduate  School?"

"Why Can't I Get Promoted?"

"Unsuccessful in Love"