10 Common Job Search Difficulties and How to Overcome Them

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Whether the competition is too fierce, you’re unwittingly making a serious mistake or two in your job search, or the lack of callbacks and interviews (and abundance of rejection) is getting you down, it’s perfectly normal to feel frustrated and defeated while on the lookout for a new job.

And although an unsuccessful job search can be frustrating, accepting any old job or giving up altogether and consoling yourself with a tub of ice cream isn’t the answer. There’s a way off this slippery slope, and there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re successful in your job hunt.

To help you out, we’ve highlighted 10 common hardships that people face when searching for a job and ways you can overcome them.

1. Having No Clear Direction

If you have a scattergun approach when it comes to job-hunting, you’re unlikely to be very successful. So, if you find yourself firing off 20 applications a day in the hopes that you’ll get called for at least one of them, you should probably take a step back and rethink your approach.

Pay close attention to the job spec and make sure you have the required skills and experience, and then some. That way you will be focusing on jobs that you are perfectly capable of doing and will have a better chance of securing a new job.

2. Not Beating Applicant Tracking Systems

With applicant tracking systems remaining at the forefront of the recruiting process, it’s often hard for your CV to reach the hands of a qualified recruiter. HR managers are increasingly relying on the power of ATSs to find suitable candidates based on keyword matches – undoubtedly one of the worst pieces of technology to solve a human problem.

And although most candidates are rejected from ATSs, you could be among the successful applicants – if you address a few issues before firing off your application, that is.

Firstly, ensure the same keywords from the job description are incorporated into your CV naturally and, secondly, run your CV through an online ATS to spot any mistakes or missed opportunities before sending it to the hiring manager.

3. Having No Connections

In today’s job search, a referral provides you with a better chance of getting noticed – and hired – by employers. Not only is an employee referral programme a cheaper alternative to recruiting, but it also makes you a more trustworthy candidate in recruiters’ eyes as there is a common connection to vouch for you.

So, if you’re embarking on your job search alone, you should change strategies and start talking to your acquaintances about it – they may know about an opening at their company and might be able to give you a recommendation.

If you don’t have a wide professional network, meanwhile, consider attending networking events to improve your situation.

4. Skipping the Cover Letter

A rookie mistake many applicants make when applying for a job is failing to submit a cover letter. Many assume that hiring managers won’t read it and that it’s essentially a waste of time. But while they indeed don’t always read your cover letter, it doesn’t give you the green light to ditch it altogether!

A cover letter gives a glimpse of your personality, your work ethic and your attention to detail in a way that a CV or résumé can’t!

Although job ads don’t always specify that a cover letter is required, you should always write one to accompany your CV anyway. Failure to do so can cost you an interview. That said, don’t just write any old jargon; your cover letter should tell the hiring manager what relevant skills you bring to the table, along with examples of where you’ve used them in past positions.

5. Lacking Confidence

A lack of confidence is the largest hindrance in job search success. If you lack confidence in your skills to perform well on the job, rest assured you won’t be able to sell yourself to a potential employer through your application or an interview (if you manage to secure one).

To help you be more confident, you should consult with friends and family who will be able to give you pointers.

When it comes to preparing for an interview, meanwhile, don’t forget to practise your answers to common interview questions. Remember: without adequate preparation, you won’t have the confidence to carry on.

6. Relying Solely on Job Adverts

While job adverts are a useful source for opportunities, you shouldn’t rely solely on them to secure a new position. Instead, why not make a list of the top employers you’d like to work for and then check their personal websites for vacancies? You’re far more likely to find your dream job by using this strategy!

You should also spend a lot of time on LinkedIn when searching for new opportunities; with their tailored algorithm, you will receive job suggestions based on your skills and experience, so you’ll be more likely to succeed by using this method.

7. Only Having One Version of Your CV

Another rookie mistake is having only one version of your CV and sending it out to different job positions. This is neither effective nor productive as different jobs require different skills.

So, instead of having a one-size-fits-all CV, create a different version for each position you’re interested in and capable of doing.

That said, you don’t have to rewrite the entire document; you can simply amend your career objective or tweak your work experience section to suit the job. Perhaps you might want to emphasise different skills for different opportunities to ensure it passes the ATS we mentioned above.

8. Relying on Headhunters and Recruiters

Although headhunters and recruiters are a great way of finding new opportunities, you shouldn’t rely solely on their assistance. At the end of the day, their number one priority is their clients (who are paying their salary), so they will ensure they find a good match for the client and not necessarily for you.

You will most likely find it more fruitful networking with clients and colleagues than wasting time on a recruiter that promises you the world but doesn’t deliver any opportunities that you’d want to take.

9. Not Following Up

This is something that I’ve been guilty of in the past, and probably something that you can relate to, as well! Often, we fire off an application and then wait (sometimes for weeks on end) without even following up with the hiring manager.

So, although you think your work is complete after sending your CV and cover letter, it has only just begun!

There’s no harm in sending an email or making a phone call to check on the status of your application. In fact, it can actually put you at the forefront of the interview list as it shows that you’re committed to bagging the position.

10. Having No Clear Career Goals

There are a few situations when we are forced to search for a new job, including being unhappy in our current position, being made redundant or seeking a career change. In each of these circumstances, it’s uncommon to feel pressured into accepting the first offer that comes our way without actually thinking about our goals.

To make sure you always stay on track when looking for new work, you should make a list of your three top career goals and cross-reference them every time you apply to a new position. If the job doesn’t seem like it will match your criteria, move on to something that will!

Although you might feel that you will never find what you truly want to do, with the right amount of hard work and dedication, it’s actually within arm’s reach.

When considering these difficulties and applying the advice provided, your search will be considerably less challenging and more productive! It no longer has to be a daunting process, but rather one that you’re comfortable with and actually good at!

What difficulties have you faced when searching for a job? Let us know your experiences in the comments section below.