Why you can’t get a job

Many job candidates do all the right things and still it’s a daunting task to get a new job.

Weeks or even months of searching with no luck can leave you feeling like your wheels are spinning, and this alone can have dramatically negative impacts on your success in landing a new job.

As a career coach, I believe that one of the most valuable things I can offer is information – a reality check of sorts. I won’t lie; it can be difficult to hear.

I recently read an article by John Sullivan, PhD in Human Resources, who used data analysis to explain why it can be difficult to get hired. The idea is that if you can understand the numbers, you’ll be in a better position to manage the realities of the job search. Here are a few of Sullivan’s points:

Your resume only gets about six seconds of initial consideration.

Your resume will face a lot of competition and will, at best, get a quick scan during which the recruiter and hiring managers are looking for four key pieces of information: 

  • Job titles  
  • Companies you worked for  
  • Start and end dates 
  • Education

75% of resumes submitted through websites are rejected by ATS

First off, if your resume format is not scannable you will cut your chances by 60%. What many people don’t realize is that many ATS systems can’t read a PDF, so if you make the mistake of submitting your resume in PDF form, you have a problem. ATS systems are looking for keywords, so it’s critical that you customize your document by spending the time necessary to do a side-by-side comparison to make certain you have touched on all the qualifications.

Even if your resume fits the job posting, you may still be excluded

Be aware that even if your resume fits the job posting, you may still be disqualified. Many job descriptions are out of date or poorly written, so basically they only exist on paper. Even if you have made it into a pile for consideration, if the hiring manger has decided they are looking for a different set of qualifications, you are out of luck.

Your LinkedIn profile and photo matter

Recruiters and hiring managers spend on average about 19% of their time looking at your profile. The research also revealed that just like resumes, weak organization and lack of scannability within a LinkedIn profile negatively impacted the applicant.  

Now that you know all of this, it’s time for you to take control of your job search! 

Thoroughly read the position description and make a list of the required keywords that both the ATS system and the recruiter or hiring manager will need to see. 

Next, submit a customized resume in a scannable format and ensure the key factors the reader needs to see initially (job titles, company names, education, dates, keywords, etc.) are both powerful and easy to find during a quick six-second scan by positioning those items in the top one-third of your resume.

“Pretest” both your resume and your LinkedIn profile several times with a recruiter, HR professional, or someone with hiring experience. Pretesting ensures that anyone who scans them for six seconds will be able to find each of the key points your reader needs to see.

Finally, my best piece of advice: Become an internal referral. This will require you to conduct research, meet the right people and ask good questions. This strategy yields higher results and positions you on the right side of this numbers game. 

Western’s commitment to your success didn’t end at graduation. For further supports, resources and opportunities to connect with alumni, check out Western Alumni Career Management.