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The job market is more competitive than ever. If you’re one of the many seekers, you might feel discouraged right now. You send out scores of resumes and monitor your inbox like a kid awaiting holiday gifts, and — nothing. Or, worse, you had an interview and you didn’t get the job. Why?

If you’re asking, “Why can’t I get an interview or a job after one?” then you need to take a step back and a deep breath. Issues with your resume, approach, attitude, or all of the above can hinder your opportunities. In a competitive market, you need every edge you can get. Read on to discover how to improve your chances of success.

The Great Resume Ghostland

You find a position that’s ideally suited to your experience and abilities. You know that you’d be the perfect fit — but days pass and you don’t hear anything. It’s enough to make anyone throw up their hands.

You might feel tempted to yield to catastrophic thinking. If you are a recent graduate, you might feel like the deck is stacked against you and the situation is hopeless. If you had a solid career track, you might think, “I’m too old, and I’ll never find anything that pays near the salary and benefits I deserve.” These concerns are valid. It’s a tight market and ageism does exist.

However, giving in to despair will only hinder your progress and potentially lead you to make unwise decisions. Do a mindfulness meditation to center yourself and realize that employers ghost applicants for reasons that have nothing to do with you, your skills, or bias.

When you submit your resume online, crawlers scan your resume for specific keywords. If your document lacks them, no humans may ever know you applied. The best way to avoid this black hole is to carefully read all job descriptions and sprinkle the same language they use throughout your CV.  You should customize each application, anyway.

Sometimes you don’t get a response because there’s simply no time. Hiring managers have the same 24-hour day as everyone else, and with the glut of recent applicants, their desks are overflowing. If you find a position that’s to-die-for, follow up after five days if you haven’t heard anything. Doing so might not work, but making a phone call to ensure the organization received your application will get your name on their radar. Familiarity matters, and even if you don’t land that role, you could remain on their minds when other opportunities arise.

Why Can’t I Get a Job Interview?

However, sometimes you don’t get called because you made a mistake. If you notice an error, don’t beat yourself up. However, do check the following factors so that you’re not stuck asking, “Why can’t I get a job interview?”

1. You Don’t Follow Instructions

Job applications can include a host of demands. Jobs in the education sector, for example, often require you to write essays about your teaching philosophy. Other roles may require you to complete various aptitude tests. Some applicants go so far as to skip the online application entirely and email their resume directly. This behavior doesn’t do anything to ensure a potential employer that you’re the type of individual they can trust to follow company rules and policies.

2. You Don’t Highlight Your Soft Skills

Your future employer wants to know about the degrees, certificates, and licenses you carry. However, if you neglect to add things like your ability to work well with others and to remain calm in a crisis, hiring managers can pass your application over even if you meet the qualifications listed in the posting. Some 89% of talented professionals say that bad hires typically lack soft skills like the organizational ability.

When you do list things like “excellent time management” on your resume, back it up with concrete examples. Did you never miss a deadline at your former employer? Make sure to mention it — and back up your assertion with a reference from someone in your company who can attest to your promptness.

3. You List Responsibilities, Not Accomplishments

Woman interviewing a young applicant in a room

If you are just starting, you might not have many things to list. Likewise, if you haven’t had to search for some time, you might forget the resume skill of highlighting your accomplishments. Consider these two examples:

  • Stocked shelves  If your only job to date was in a grocery store, you might scratch your head at how to describe your achievements. This statement tells the hiring manager what you did — but not much else.
  •  Increased revenue by 10% by improving facing procedures  Now you’re cooking with gas. Anyone who has ever worked in a market has probably stocked shelves. How did you do your job differently and better than others to improve your employer’s bottom line?

What if you are fresh out of high school and have never held a job before? Don’t worry! When listing your accomplishments, look to the following examples for inspiration:

  •  Maintained an X.X GPA for three years  Do you hit the books? This statement is the ideal way to prove it.
  • Ran a babysitting service while balancing perfect attendance  Remember how crucial soft skills are? This accomplishment shows a potential employer that you take initiative and possess impressive time-management skills.

Remember, being specific about your skills and accomplishments can make all the difference.

4. You Don’t Tailor Your Resume

You’re applying to a list of jobs longer than a CVS receipt. Do you have to tweak your resume for each one? If you hope to obtain any of the positions you apply for, the answer is “yes.”

Fortunately, you don’t have to write a new document for each listing. You can use techniques like reordering and removing components to make your resume customized to the advertised role. Instead of looking at this exercise as futile when you feel discouraged, think of it as preparation for the interview that you’re sure to score. You’ll want to take copies with you when you get the call, and reviewing the version you prepared will remind you what this employer values.

5. You Don’t Meet the Minimum Requirements

You want to pursue your ambitions, but applying for jobs that you know you lack the qualifications for is a sure ticket to the disappointment train. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t investigate other opportunities at the same organization. Your ambition could come in handy.

There are no guarantees in the job market, but you could try the following approach.

Write an email to the individual listed as the point of contact and express your interest in working with them. You could say, “I recently saw your listing for X position. While I lack the minimum experience required for this role, I’m impressed by your organization’s structure and values. I’d welcome an opportunity to learn while providing value. Do you know of any open positions that match my qualifications?”

The answer is always “no” if you don’t ask.

6. You Don’t Explain Employment Gaps

If you are a seasoned career professional, you may have years when you didn’t work. Perhaps you had an automobile accident that temporarily impeded your ability to work, or maybe you took time off to raise a family. You need to remember that potential employers don’t keep crystal balls on their desks. Unless you explain the discrepancy, they may interpret it as a red flag that you’re not hireable.

You can explain your circumstances in your cover letter. When you do, stick to the facts and be brief. Do mention that the situation was temporary and will not impact your performance if selected.

7. You List Your Job-Hopping History

Does your resume resemble so much Swiss cheese? If so, you have some explaining to do, but you might not make it to the interview stage. You might have valid reasons, but to a hiring manager, a string of jobs lasting less than a year makes you look flighty and unreliable.

Consider highlighting only those positions that pertain most closely to the position for which you’re applying and where you have references. Doing so may mean you give up experience points if you don’t have much relevant work history, but it’s better than looking like you jump ship the second things get hectic in the office.

8. You Missed a Critical Deadline

Deadline

When you read the job description, pay careful attention to the deadlines. Treat your search like a small business. Make a detailed spreadsheet that tracks all pertinent information, including application due dates, follow-up dates, and names and contact information of critical individuals. You can refer to this document when you create your daily to-do list to stay organized.

9. You Use the Wrong File Format

This advice could fall under following directions, but it could have a long-term impact on your future job prospects. If the advertisement requires you to email your resume in a specific file format, make sure you do so. Otherwise, your recruiter won’t be able to open your documents and they won’t waste their limited time trying to figure out the conversion.

There are ample free tools available online, so make use of them to perfect your materials before sending them.

10. You Make Careless Errors

You’ve heard the advice a million times and you still didn’t run a spelling and grammar check before submitting your resume. That careless mistake could cost you your future dream job.

When it comes to getting interviews, check and recheck your application for any careless mistakes. Since spell-check alone won’t catch every error, use a free browser extension like Grammarly as a secondary measure. Finally, have someone you trust to proofread your submission before saying your good-luck mantra and hitting send.

Why You Didn’t Get a Job After the Interview and How to Fix It

You finally got the phone call you’ve been waiting for, and you think you aced the interview. However, a week passes and you don’t hear back from the organization. When you reach out to them, they inform you that they have decided to move forward with other candidates.

Why are you not getting the job after your interview? Sometimes, companies go through the process even when they know they have an internal candidate whom they intend to promote to the position to fulfill legal requirements. In that instance, there’s little that you can do. However, sometimes, your behavior during the process needs some tweaking.

Arrive Promptly and Dress Appropriately

Few things raise a hiring manager’s ire more quickly than looking at their watch and wondering if you will show. Strive to arrive approximately 10 minutes ahead of your scheduled appointment, but don’t go earlier than that. If you have to drive a considerable distance, stop at a nearby coffee shop for a latte if you have extra time. Just be careful not to spill it on your interview clothes!

The same rule applies, albeit slightly differently, for online interviews. At least 10 minutes before your scheduled meeting, check to ensure all audio and visual equipment is working correctly. Technical difficulties do occur in the workplace, but one of the aspects your recruiter analyzes is your degree of tech-savviness. They might think, “If she can’t get her webcam working for our meeting, will she make a similar foible with a client?”

Remember to review the company’s or interviewers’ dress policies before preparing your outfit for interview day — if they haven’t provided you with guidelines, always err on the side of professional, modest dress. 

Smile and Appear Confident

beautiful woman smiling in a coffee table holding a phone in front of a laptop

There is one upside to the COVID-19 pandemic — you have a ready excuse for not shaking your interviewer’s hand. If you tend to get sweaty paws when you’re nervous, you can breathe a sigh of relief. However, you still need to smile and exude confidence.

When you have an online interview, it’s more challenging because you can see yourself on the screen. Try to ignore the sidebar where your picture appears. Instead, act as if you are face-to-face with the hiring manager and strive to be as natural as possible. Remember to be positive and polite, but don’t get too friendly or become inappropriate.

Turn Off Your Devices

Few things are ruder than having your cell phone beep in the middle of your interview — except, of course, for answering it. If you can’t resist the urge to check notifications, you don’t need to ask why you didn’t get the job after your appointment. Leave it in your car if you have to sneak a peek when it vibrates.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Finally, take the time to research the organization thoroughly before you arrive for your appointment. Check them out on social media and read the company blog to get insight into their culture and practices. Click on the “investor relations” tab on their website to get an idea of their financial health. The last thing you want is to take a position only to undergo a round of layoffs a month later.

Get the Interview — and Land the Job — With These Tips

If you’re wondering why you can’t get an interview, or land the job afterward, take time to evaluate your approach. Above all, remain persistent and positive, and keep climbing the career ladder.

Written By
Alyssa Abel is an education writer specializing in student life and academia. She writes on everything from college and career prep to K-12 methodologies and educator resources. Follow her updates on her website Syllabusy

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