Searching for a job can be soul crushing. Mostly, because you may spend a lot of time knocking on closed doors. But if you are getting frustrated with sending job applications and getting nothing in return, know that you are not alone. While you may be wondering if the problem is you, the chances are that it’s not your fault. A lot of job seekers are experiencing the same frustrations — even though they technically shouldn’t. So, why is it so hard to get a job?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for labor is now historically high. In January 2022 alone, the United States had 11.3 million job openings. And 678,000 more jobs were created in February. This has resulted in an exceptionally tight job market: for every 100 job openings in January, there were only 60 job seekers available.
This leaves us with a conundrum: there are more jobs available, but job seekers are still having trouble finding work. Why is this happening?
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Why is it so hard to get a job: possible reasons
According to Inc.com, typically, a job opening gets around 250 resumes — but only four out of six candidates will receive an interview invitation. Here are a few possibilities why.
1. Some companies are overly selective
A lot of employers may be searching for the perfect employee. You may see a hint of this in the job description that will paint a picture of a highly educated, experienced expert with a variety of proven skills in different aspects of the job. Even if such a person exists and the offered salary matches their requirements, the availability of such people is very limited.
What’s more, these days, companies are trying to get a very quick return on their investment as they don’t know how long you will be working for them. Decades before, employers could hope that they were hiring a candidate for life. Now, most employees stay in the workplace for just several years before moving on to a different position. This means that the company may invest in a new hire and training and then have you leave them once you’ve perfected your skills.
2. Hiring managers often use Applicant Tracking Systems
According to recent data, over 90% of all employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS). This type of software is designed to scan a resume for keywords that have been pre-set by the hiring manager. This helps the employer go over large amounts of job applications and shortlist only the ones that they are interested in reviewing in person. Because of this, a lot of the applications sent to HR departments don’t even make it to the actual HR manager.
Thus, if you are not fluent in how an ATS screens a resume and how to make your application ATS-friendly, you will be at a considerable disadvantage during the hiring process.
2. Employees may not be paying enough attention to their applications
For some job seekers, the answer to why they are not being hired may be in their resumes. These days, employers are looking for applications that stand out and tell an engaging professional story. Relying on old resume formats and mass-sending the same application to different employers will most likely be working against you in today’s job market.
So, if you want to find a good job, you will need to take a second look at your resume and cover letter and make sure that they effectively showcase your value as an employee.
How to improve your odds of finding work
If you find yourself applying for jobs with no results, consider taking a closer look at what jobs you are applying for and how you are applying for them.
First, take a look at your resume
Here, things are very simple. If you want to get a great job, you need a great resume.
If your current resume could best be described as “good enough”, you have very limited chances for landing the job of your dreams.
There are several steps to improve your resume: from picking the right resume format to selecting the right keywords to have your resume noticed by applicant tracking systems.
Apply for the jobs that match your experience
Consider whether you are applying for the right job offers. Quite often, job seekers
fail to choose positions that best match their skill sets. Instead, they spend a lot of time and energy applying for all available positions — with very little KPI. Other times, job seekers may select the right positions — but fail to showcase their skills.
As a result, even if their applications make it through the applicant tracking systems, they don’t catch the eye of the hiring manager and get tossed aside.
Don’t miss out on networking opportunities
Don’t forget to network. Contacts in your industry are invaluable resources that can help you learn about new openings, offer references and share advice on how to get the job you want. Leveraging these professional relationships is essential for staying ahead of the competition. What’s more, you can now easily network online, expanding your reach to the international job market.
Why is it so hard to get a job: tips for improving your application
Job search doesn’t have to be an excruciating experience. You don’t have to send out hundreds of applications into the universe and get nothing in return. All you may need to do is simply adjust your job seeking process. Let’s review how your can do this:
- Take a look at your resume. Make sure you’ve chosen the right format for your resume based on your experience, niche and skill set. Check if your resume includes relevant keywords — it’s always a good idea to go over the job description again and add the keywords used in it to your application. Do your best to tailor your application to the position and company you are applying for. Sending the same application to multiple employers is often counterproductive and will only give you a false sense of accomplishment.
- Filter out the job offers you apply to. Yes, it’s generally a good idea to apply for many roles at the beginning of your job search so as to increase your chances of getting a reply. However, it’s essential that you go through a selection process and only spend your time and energy on the jobs that you can actually do well and that you would really want to be selected for. This will give you more time to work on each job application and tweak your resume and cover letter to the position you are applying for.
- Don’t miss out on networking opportunities in your niche. These days, a lot of networking can be done online. This gives you lots of options for expanding your reach and even exploring job opportunities abroad. Keep your professional social media updated and make sure they are the best reflection of your skill set and professional achievements. By professional media we mean platforms such as LinkedIn, GitHub and others. Depending on the sphere you work in, you may also be able to use platforms such as Instagram or YouTube to showcase your work — for instance, if you work in design, video editing, social media and so on.
- Finally, use the time when you are out of a job to work on your application, take up additional courses to improve your skills, expand your portfolio and more. Don’t let the stress of not having a job get in the way of your personal and professional development. Use this time to become better. When you are working full time again, you will look back on this period and see it as either productive and useful or a stress induced waste of time.
We hope that this has been helpful and you now have a clearer idea of what you can do to increase your chances of getting the job you want. The most important strategy to keep to is not giving up. Search for advice from fellow job seekers and successful professionals in your industry. Keep improving your skill set and your application — and you are sure to see the results of your work in the form of a lucrative job offer.