Why Finding a Job Is So Hard (Key Reasons and Tips)

Updated August 3, 2023

Whether you're new to the workforce or have several years of experience in your industry, the job search can be challenging. Common obstacles include the tendency for companies to hire internally and the prominence of qualified candidates. Understanding these challenges and taking steps to optimize your job search can help you improve your chances of obtaining the role you want.

In this article, we explain why finding a job is so hard and explore five ways to overcome these common challenges.

Why finding a job is so hard

Here are some reasons finding a job might be challenging and how you can address them:

Private job postings

Some employers exclusively use private job postings to attract talented candidates. Filling positions through internal applications, employee recommendations and recruiters often results in a more selective hiring process. Consider overcoming this challenge by contacting recruiters in your field. You might also contact a company you're interested in to ask about open positions and send your resume to the hiring manager.

Read more: What Is the Hidden Job Market? Plus Tips on Accessing It

Internal hiring preferences

Even when employers make job postings public, they may prefer to hire internal employees who apply because of their familiarity with the company. External candidates can improve their chances by highlighting the skills that differentiate them from internal candidates. For instance, you might emphasize how your fresh perspective could help an organization improve its sales strategy.

If you currently work for a company, consider leveraging your advantage by applying for internal positions. Your employer might want to hire you for a more advanced role that suits your interests and career goals.

Read more: 4 Tips on Applying to an Internal Job Posting

Prominence of qualified candidates

A single job posting can elicit hundreds of applications, especially if the role is at a large organization. It might be challenging to compete with qualified candidates, but you can improve your chances by optimizing your resume for an applicant tracking system (ATS). You might also emphasize your interest in growing with a company so that employers are more willing to invest in you.

Read more: Competitive Job Market: Definition and Tips for Standing Out

Reluctance to hire overqualified candidates

While professional qualifications can impress employers, they may present challenges to your job search. Employers might prefer to hire someone with fewer qualifications so they can offer less compensation. If you have significant qualifications like advanced education and several years of industry experience, consider applying for more advanced roles. This approach allows you to focus on obtaining a new job that matches your skills and salary expectations.

Read more: Overqualified for a Job? Tips to Overcome the Obstacles

How to improve your chances of finding a job

Here's how you can improve your chances of finding a job:

1. Regularly update your resume

Consider regularly updating your resume so it includes recent achievements and certifications. These qualifications help assure employers of your consistent development and may make you a more compelling candidate. When applying for jobs, you can customize your resume to match the job posting's desired skills. This approach is especially important if you're submitting your resume through an electronic portal, as ATS technology screens your document for keywords to ensure you're a good match for the role.

Here are some ways to cater your resume to ATS technology:

  • Use keywords in your skills section. Consider creating a skills section and adding keywords that the job description mentions. Try including specific traits that not only match the job description but also reflect your strengths.

  • Use a simple layout. You can cater to ATS technology by choosing a simple resume for your format. This approach also helps employers quickly read your resume and identify key information.

  • Proofread your documents. Consider proofreading your resume to check for grammatical and spelling errors. You might also ask a colleague, friend or family member to ensure the document is clear, concise and in chronological order.

Related: How To Write a Resume Employers Will Notice

2. Use your network

Your network can be a determining factor in finding jobs, especially those that aren't visible on public job boards. Here are some tips that can help you use your network to find relevant opportunities:

  • Ask friends and family. Friends and family members who have connections can help you improve your chances of getting a competitive role. Consider asking if they know of open positions and whether they can give you a recommendation.

  • Attend job fairs. Consider searching online for job fairs and events in your area. By attending events that feature employers across multiple industries, you can talk to hiring managers and learn of available opportunities.

  • Contact someone in your industry. Consider contacting a hiring manager, former supervisor or colleague with vast industry experience. By asking them about your professional development and inquiring about open positions, you can encourage them to give you a referral.

Related: Become a Networking Expert in 7 Steps

3. Get a temporary job

If you find it challenging to get the full-time job you want, consider accepting a temporary role. Short-term experience can help you build your resume and give you time to find other positions that you find more interesting. Additionally, a temporary role may help you become more attractive to hiring managers who prefer candidates without employment gaps.

Related: 11 of the Best Temporary Jobs (With Duties and Salaries)

4. Pursue professional development

You may increase your job prospects by pursuing professional development. Consider leveraging the programs at your current place of employment or joining professional organizations. Professional development includes completing training programs, earning licensure, meeting certification renewal requirements and pursuing advanced education. With these qualifications, potential employers might prefer you over candidates with fewer qualifications.

Related: How To Write a Professional Development Plan in 5 Steps

5. Stay in contact

Try staying in contact with employers throughout the application process. If the hiring manager hasn't responded within one to two weeks of submitting your job application, consider calling or emailing to introduce yourself. This approach demonstrates your interest in the role and demonstrates your eagerness. Consider scheduling a time to talk that's convenient for them to respect their time and get their full attention.

If you get a lot of interviews but receive few job offers, consider revising the way you follow up with employers. You can reassure a hiring manager of your interest in the role by sending a thank-you email after your interview. A thank-you email might also remind the hiring manager of your application and encourage them to contact you with an offer. If you don't receive a job offer, you might ask for feedback that you can apply to future interviews.

Explore more articles

  • 10 Types of Associate Degree Teacher Jobs (And Their Duties)
  • 10 Types of Employment Contracts
  • What Is an Automation Engineer? (With Duties and Skills)
  • How To Become a Proctor in 4 Steps (With Skills and Salary)
  • Pharmacists: 58 Side Hustles You Can Use To Make Extra Cash
  • 14 Jobs Working With Children You Can Do Without a Degree
  • How To Become a Marine Pilot
  • 20 Jobs in Politics (With Salaries and Primary Duties)
  • What Does a Chaplain Do? (Duties, Salary and Workplaces)
  • 10 Best States To Be a Teacher (With Salaries and Benefits)
  • 16 Jobs With Animals for 16-Year-Olds (Plus Salaries)
  • 13 Pros and Cons of Being a Notary