You may encounter some challenges when looking for work. However, there are several ways to optimize your job search and find success. In this article, we discuss why finding a job can be so difficult and explore ways to overcome these obstacles.
Why is it so hard to find a job?
Here are some reasons finding a job might be challenging and how you can address them:
Companies may hire internally
Many opportunities that employers post are not exclusively open to external applicants. If a company is hiring for a position, that position is usually also available to people within the company. The hiring company might look more favorably on a candidate they already know. An external candidate must be able to make a strong first impression in order to be given equal consideration to an internal candidate.
Many jobs are never publicly posted
Many of the jobs that are available might not appear on public job boards. Instead, managers of these positions prefer to fill the position through recruiters or employee recommendations. Broadening your methods for finding job opportunities can uncover a larger number of positions that interest you. For instance, you could contact recruiters to find out if jobs are available in your field.
Positions are highly competitive
A single job posting can see hundreds of applications. For an application to be successful, it must be able to draw the employer’s attention. Having a large number of applications can limit how much time an employer can devote to reading over application materials. Submitting a distinct, strong resume can pique an employer’s interest.
How to improve your chances of finding a job
Understanding what obstacles you face in the job market is the first step to overcoming them. To improve your odds of success, follow these steps:
1. Keep your resume updated and tailored to the position
Make sure that your resume is well-organized and readable. When applying to a position, customize each application you send to match the desired skills listed on the job posting. This is especially important if you are submitting your resume through an electronic portal. Many employers use Applicant Tracking Systems technology, which scans your resume and searches for keywords to match with the job posting.
Based on how this software perceives that your resume matches what the employer is asking for, it then determines if your resume should continue to the hiring manager. Tailoring your resume to the job position can help ATS recognize that your qualifications match. To maximize your resume’s effectiveness, try the following:
- Change the skills section in your resume to reflect keywords from the job posting. If a job posting seems to focus on specific skills or characteristics, then including those in the text of your resume and cover letter is helpful.
- Keep your resume layout simple and readable. Choose a resume format and style that employers can quickly read. Consider asking someone to look over your resume so you can gain perspective on how someone else may see it.
- Keep your resume wording concise. To fill your resume with relevant information, try to keep the content simple and straightforward. This improves an employer’s ability to fully understand what skills you have.
2. Use and expand your connections
Who you know can be a determining factor of finding great opportunities, especially those that aren’t visible on public job boards. Social media can be a great tool when it comes to seeing what your connections can offer you. Job fairs or networking events can be beneficial for meeting new people in an industry and learning about opportunities. Expanding your network will only help you in your job search. To achieve this, consider taking these steps:
- Ask friends and family if they know about any hiring opportunities. Having a person who connects you with a potential opportunity can improve your odds of getting the job. A mutual connection between you and an employer can help make you stand out among other candidates during the hiring process.
- Attend job fairs and similar events that interest you. Search online for job fairs and events in your area. Some events host a broad array of employers across multiple industries, while some are specific to a single industry. Attending one of these events can lead you to make a connection that shows you a new opportunity.
- Connect with an established person in an industry and ask them a meaningful question. If you are seeking a job in a specific industry, search for successful people within that field. Consider reaching out to someone to introduce yourself and ask a genuine, thoughtful question. Most people rarely receive correspondence like this, so it gives you the opportunity to make a strong, memorable impression.
3. Follow up with potential employers
If you make contact with an employer and earn an interview, it is a good idea to follow up about your next steps. Once you have made an impression, you want to remain memorable when the next phase of the hiring process begins.
Connecting directly with a hiring manager can seem intimidating, but it is often an expected part of the application process. Following up gives you an opportunity to make an even better impression and increase your chance of success. To be effective at following up, take these measures:
- Follow up one to two weeks after applying to introduce yourself personally. The initial application collection process can take time before employers move on to the next step. If you haven’t heard back one to two weeks after submitting an application, then reach out to the hiring manager and introduce yourself. This can prompt a manager to look for your resume among other applications.
- Send a thank you email after every interview. Directly corresponding with an employer during the hiring process can make you memorable. Sending a thank you email the same day after an interview is a professional gesture that shows appreciation and continued interest in the opportunity.
- Be mindful of an employer’s timeline when you follow up. During your interview, ask when you can expect to hear back about next steps in the hiring process. Sometimes employers do not reach out within the timeline you expected. If this is the case, it is good to wait two or three business days before you send a follow-up email asking about the process.