While the media endlessly touts the great job market and low unemployment rates, you remain unemployed. That's frustrating and hard to understand, especially when you hear that companies can't find competent workers for open positions.
Assuming you have some skills and you're applying for jobs you're at least somewhat qualified for, you are probably making some very basic mistakes. The good news is that you can fix them.
Getting hired usually requires that you land an interview. Some good candidates kill their chances by not even making it to that stage. You may not be making all these mistakes, but just one is enough to cause a company to pass on you. Get these four things right and you should find yourself benefiting from the strong job market instead of wondering why nobody wants to hire you.
1. You use a generic cover letter
Not every job application requires a cover letter, but if there's an option to include one, you should. And it's important to have a cover letter tailored specifically for the job you're seeking.
Address things not covered by your resume and make sure you answer questions asked in the job ad. Show some personality, and make it clear you want this specific job.
2. You apply for too many jobs
Hiring managers dismiss candidates whose cover letter/resume combination makes it appear the candidate is applying for every job offered. Make sure you don't appear generic; remember that more is not always better. Apply for the jobs for which you're a good fit, not every job you could possibly do.
3. You don't connect the dots
As someone who has hired writers and editors in the past, I have seen a lot of resumes from people who aren't directly qualified. They may have related skills but have never held a similar job.
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When that's true, candidates need to connect the dots and explain what makes them a good hire. Sometimes it's enough to acknowledge that you have the fundamental skills but you'll need to be trained for the specific position.
It's important to address anything that's not obvious. If you're a newspaper reporter, you may have the skills to do public relations, but you have to make a case for yourself.
4. Your resume is out of style
Resumes are a bit like fashion. Some formats go in and out of style as hiring managers' tastes change. For example, a one-page resume was standard in many professions for a long time -- longer was seen as obnoxious. That's generally not true now, but it varies by industry.
Do your homework and make sure your resume is in whatever format is currently in vogue. You may also want to research whether you need a different resume format for jobs using an online application.
Stay strong, keep working
If you're out of work, consider that finding a job has become your job. Put in the work every day making connections and fine-tuning your materials. Practice interviewing, and work on getting your name out there.
Don't be discouraged if you're not getting hired. Accept the challenge to make hiring managers give you an interview.
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