Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
Ask an Expert JOB SEARCH / DEC. 19, 2016
version 7, draft 7

It’s been six months already. Why can’t I find a job?

frustrated man using laptop outside
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Dilemma:

I have been searching for a job for six months and still no luck. Every time, the same thing happens. I send my application and get no reply. Is this normal? At this point, I am convinced that there has to be something I am doing wrong. Along with every application, I send my CV and cover letter and include as much information as I can to help employers see that I am the perfect fit for the job.

I talk about my skills, knowledge and education and try to make it look pretty and attractive. Am I forgetting something? I have already asked a few of my friends to take a look, and they said that both my CV and cover letter look fine. Can you give me some advice?

Kyriaki says:

I know that not getting an answer back from employers can be frustrating, especially when you have been on the hunt for quite some time. But, you should know that most employers are like that; they usually don’t get back to you after you send them an application. In fact, some of them don’t even send you a thank-you email. How rude right?

But - just to be fair - when it’s hiring season, recruiters are so busy that they can’t afford to spend more than six seconds on every CV. The most challenging part of the job search process is finding the right way to explain why you are the best candidate for the job within those six seconds. You need to make sure you include all the necessary information they need to see and present it in a way that makes sense and stands out. If you can do that effectively, you will start getting invitations for interviews in no time.

In your case, there could be some not-so-obvious reasons why you are not getting a reply. The following mini-checklist can help you figure out what’s wrong.

Are you ‘advertising’ yourself the right way?

At the moment there is another problem the current job market is extremely competitive, especially for entry-level positions. Employers want to hire people who have some experience in the field or at least have had some job (e.g. through an internship or placement) at some point in their lives.

If you want to beat the competition you have to be willing to go the extra mile and try out things other candidates wouldn’t think of doing. This of course, calls for a better ‘personal branding’ strategy. The reason why you aren’t getting any attention may be that you are not advertising yourself the right way.

First of all, your CV and cover letter shouldn’t be generic. Adding a more ‘personal note’ on these two documents can go a long way to making a difference. For example, you can create your own logo, come up with a catchy phrase to include in your cover or even create a small video to introduce yourself. The idea is that you come up with something that’s memorable so that employers can make a connection.

Another critical component of personal branding is networking. So apart from sending your CV or cover letter to employers, you also have to make the effort to market yourself in the real world. Making personal connections and growing your professional network is an excellent way of getting yourself an interview.   

Are you trying too much?

Have you ever thought that you might be trying too much; In case you are wondering, the answer is yes, there is such a thing as ‘overdoing it’. In an attempt to get everything down on paper, there is always the risk of getting the same result as to not trying at all. It’s similar to painting, the more colours you use, usually the prettier and ‘happier’ it looks, but if you can’t create a pattern out of these and they are put in there just to fill the ‘white space’ without any order or a rationale, then it loses its value and meaning.

Likewise, a CV that includes every small detail about what you did in the past can work against you. Good or bad, there are some limitations regarding what you can do or not, and you need to abide by these. To get it right, both your CV and cover letter need to be:  

  • Short: it should make use of short sentences. Long text/paragraphs tend to be misleading and confusing.
  • Straightforward: it should say what it needs to say without too many or difficult words.
  • Easy to read: it shouldn’t be tiring or boring.
  • Structured: it should follow a specific structure and focus on specific questions employers need answers to.
  • Relevant: it should be tailored to position you are applying for without any unnecessary information.

Are you proof-reading your CV and cover letter?

There is always the possibility that you are sending a document that has grammar or spelling errors. While I am not implying that you are sloppy – since it can happen to anyone, but if you hurrying too much and fail to spend enough time proofreading your CV or cover letter, you won’t get an email back from employers.

Usually, these mistakes aren’t easily forgiven and can cost you the job. If an employer reads the first sentence of a cover letter and it has a error in it, it’s highly possible that he won’t read any further.

Assuming that you frequently make changes to your CV and cover letter, (so that it can be made relevant to every position), it is possible to make mistakes. Even when you double-check each document, it might be a good idea to show it to other people. Asking your friends for a second opinion is a clever move, but you can also get the opinion of an expert. In this case a career adviser can help you out. As a professional, he will be able to take a look at your CV and cover letter, catch any mistakes and tell you exactly what you need to fix.

Getting the employers’ attention isn’t difficult as long as you learn how to do it properly. The idea is that you keep working on your CV and cover letter and that do your best to promote yourself while asking for feedback every step of the way.

Try out these tips and let me know how it goes! In the meantime, if you need more help, don’t hesitate to contact me.

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