Job Search Strategies That Could Be Costing You Work

Unemployment hit 3.7 percent in October,  a slight change from September's record low numbers. But that doesn't mean a whole lot when you're the one searching for a new job, and you've been searching for a job for what seems like forever, but nothing's popping up.

Perhaps you're employed already, but you can't stand your boss or your work. Or maybe you're unemployed and exhausted. You don't know what you're doing wrong.

It's an unfortunate but common problem. If you haven't been able to find a job, there are several things you could be doing wrong. The good news is that many of them are easy to fix once you know the issue.

1. You’re Not Tailoring Your Cover Letter or Resume to the Job at Hand.

“How can I find a job quickly?” That's the question — and one some people believe can be fixed by focusing on quantity rather than quality.  That means churning out applications that aren't tailored to the specific position. Skills and qualities that apply to one job may not be suitable for others. Employers will quickly spot cover letters and resumes that seem generic and don't apply specifically to them.

What you should be doing: While it will take more time and effort, it's important to tailor each resume and cover letter to the position. Employers receive many, many applications for their job listings, and to stand out, you need to demonstrate genuine enthusiasm. That means listing qualifications relevant to this particular job and employer and explaining why you care about this job — not just any old job.

2. You’re Not Doing Your Homework.

Similarly, if you're not spending time researching the company, an employer may quickly pass over your application, even if you're qualified. This is especially important before an interview; if you show up and don't seem to know much about the company, the employer will dismiss you as not being very excited about the job, as well as being ill-prepared for your interview. But it's important to do some research before applying, too.

What you should be doing: Research. Even before you press submit on your application, make sure you've incorporated a few details about the company in your cover letter. This helps with #1, too — you're tailoring your application to the job at hand by mentioning what excites you about it. Ramp up your research before every interview, too. Read any news and collateral about the company, check out their social media accounts, and ask around.

3. You’re Being Careless.

Careless errors turn hiring managers off to otherwise very qualified candidates. Perhaps you have typos in your cover letter or forgot to change the employer's name in your template. Or, you show up to an interview without copies of your resume, and you haven't even taken the time to iron your shirt. Maybe you haven't prepared, either.

What you should be doing: Take care with every step of the job search process. Thoroughly proofread your applications and ask a friend to take a look, too. Prepare for interviews by practicing, preferably with someone else, and make sure you act and look professional.

4. You’re Not Investing Enough Time.

If you're not prioritizing your job search, you'll have trouble finding a job. It's not going to just come to you — you have to put in the time to make it happen.

What you should be doing: The cliche about looking for a job being your full-time job is true. You need to invest time and effort into your job search to reap the rewards. This means applying to a certain number of jobs daily (setting goals), carving out time to prepare for interviews and networking.

5. You’re Not Enthusiastic Enough.

If you're coming across as bored in interviews, it will be obvious to the hiring manager or recruiter. For example, you may be indicating that you want any job or that you intend to use this role as a stepping stone. Employers want to hire people who want to work for them, so this could be impeding your job search.

What you should be doing: First of all, you should only be applying for jobs that you want, even if they're not your end goal. You should also make an effort to be enthusiastic in every interview, whether it's in person or over the phone. Ask plenty of questions, especially about topics that relate to the conversation you've been having with your interviewers. This shows that you've been paying attention and are engaged. Be sure to send thank you notes and include details about what you discussed, too.

6. Your Qualifications Don’t Match the Job.

Just out of college? It's probably not time to apply for an executive role at a marketing firm. On the flip side, if you have years of experience, a prospective employer will wonder why you're applying for an entry-level role for which you're probably overqualified. It could indicate that you're desperate to be hired and don't care where you work or what you do, which will raise some eyebrows.

What you should be doing: You must ensure you're well-suited to the role. While the years of experience listed in a job ad aren't necessarily set in stone, you can use this as a starting point to gauge how evenly matched you are with the position. Read the requirements to assess how qualified you are. You should be well-versed in the skills needed, but you should aim for something that challenges you, too. For example, if every duty overlaps with your current role, it could signify that you're overqualified. Still, if you've never had to handle many responsibilities listed, you may need to aim for a more junior position.

7. You’re Not Networking Enough.

A survey conducted with LinkedIn found that 85% of positions are filled because of networking. If you're only relying on completing job applications, no matter how diligent you're being, you're missing out if you're not leveraging your network. Remember that many positions aren't even listed (exact estimates of how many or what percentage vary), so there are probably plenty of opportunities you won't even find unless you network.

What you should be doing: The obvious solution is to network, network, network! Tell everyone you know what you're looking for and the type of role you want. Look on LinkedIn for connections who work for employers who interest you or have relationships that do. Attend industry meetups and events. It would be best if you got the word out, and you never know who might know someone who can connect you to your dream job.

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This article was produced by FairyGodBoss and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.