Why am I still unemployed? This plaintive question is one I’m asked a great deal. I’d like to give a few brief answers to this question.
1). You aren’t networking enough. Almost all jobs these days are found through networking. If you’re applying through job boards, searching the internet, counting on recruiters or responding to want ads….you’re not doing enough. And, as I’ve said elsewhere, your resume is almost useless.
2). You interview poorly. We have interviewed a few people for a job we have open (office assistant). While this is, admittedly, a lower-level position, I’m surprised and shocked at how poorly people interview. Chewing gum, not dressing for the interview, arguing, and saying what you will and won’t do are all interview killers.
3). You’re pierced. Take out those facial piercings! Younger generation workers — this really turns off old farts like me. I won’t hire someone with a facial piercing or visible tattoo. It is unprofessional.
4). You didn’t shave. Don’t go in with one of those “stubble beards.” Either actually have a beard or be clean-shaven. The people who are probably making the hiring decision really, really hate the three day stubble beards that are the norm among younger men.
5). You are asking too much money. Look, there is a “great reset” going on. Salaries are lower these days. Frankly, we’re not going to hire someone with that huge of a salary gap. It isn’t the problem of employers that you have lived beyond your means. Everyone is tight these days. Don’t go asking for a large salary and tons of perks. You might well have to bite the bullet and take much less to get off of the unemployment rolls.
6). You’re very overqualified. Realistically, I’m not going to hire someone with 10+ years of experience with a great deal of responsibility in their last job for an entry-level job. Entry-level jobs will be filled by entry-level people. All you do when you apply for these things is annoy the employer. I know that you might be desperate. But it is better to consult or start your own business, than to apply for entry-level jobs. When I see someone with extensive experience applying for an intern job, I’m not even going to interview them. I know that they’ll be gone in a heartbeat if something in their field comes along, and that they won’t stay and grow with my company. I also know that they’re going to second guess me, not be coachable and generally be a pain in the neck. Don’t bother to apply for these jobs.
7). You’re “shotgun” applying. I made the mistake of running an ad on one of the major job boards one time. BIG mistake. Everyone and their sibling applied, even with 0% of the qualifications. The rule of thumb is — if you don’t have at least 60% of the qualifications called for, don’t apply. You’re wasting your time…and really annoying the employer!
8). You smoke. Many of us won’t hire smokers. The smell on their clothes drives off customers. They get sick more often. They take excessive breaks. And, frankly, it’s a filthy and disgusting habit. Quit and quit now. Your career future, not to mention your life and your health, may depend on it.
9). Your job title has disappeared (or is endangered). You’re probably not going to find much in real-estate or housing now. And while Defense is currently a good industry, it is going to be cut by the current Congress, though I suspect there will always be a market for things that kill and maim. But many job titles and industries have disappeared. Some jobs are being done by robots. Others are being done by people already in the company. It might be time to go back to school or change industries.
10). Your attitude stinks. You might be coming across as having an arrogant or generally bad attitude. If someone is not upbeat and positive, I will rapidly end the interview.
11). You’re depressed. Many people who have been laid off and can’t find work in a hurry need anti-depressants. Get on them if you need them. Just be careful which ones you use.
Some depression is normal during a time when you’ve lost your job. But if you’re always in a dark mood, crying, unmotivated and not sleeping, see your family doctor at once.
12). You’re angry. Your anger is not hurting the “jerks” who fired you or laid you off. It is, however, killing you physically and killing your career. Get over it. Realistically, if you were fired, you most likely deserved it. If you were laid off, it was nothing personal…just a business decision. Deal with your anger before interviewing.
13). You didn’t follow the directions in the posting. In our last job posting, we asked for a brief statement with a résumé telling us why, after looking at our website, the candidate would like to work for us. Only two people even came close to following the directions! Do what you’re asked to do in the job posting or by the hiring authority. If you’re not going to do what your potential boss asks you to, you’re not going to do what he or she asks you to when you’re employed, now, are you?
14). You missed an important piece of the interviewing process. We asked a candidate we liked to come to one of our events and meet our clients. She wrote us an email and said that she couldn’t make it, but wanted to continue to the next phase of interviewing. Well, that was the next phase of interviewing! Don’t miss events or plant tours. They are just as important as the face-to-face interviews.
15). Ya yack too much! More extroverts talk themselves out of jobs than into them. Shut the blank up, for crying out loud! More about that here.
16). You’re evasive. If you’re asked a question, answer it. Don’t beat around the bush, and don’t give stupid canned answers. A clear example of this is the number of people who say, when asked about a weakness, “I guess I’m just too much of a self-motivated, self-starter who is too hard on himself.” Stupid answer.
17). You can’t communicate. Don’t make the interviewer crowbar information out of you. If you can’t communicate well, you won’t get employed. If you do happen, by some miracle, to get employed, you won’t last long.
18). You’re unprepared. I’ll be very clear. If you go up against one of my highly prepared candidates, you’re going to lose and lose big. Don’t be cheap! Hire someone to help you with interviewing, networking and finding the hidden jobs. If you’re an executive in Denver Metro, talk to us about hiring us. If you’re elsewhere, find a good, honest career coach. But be careful. Read my article in ColoradoBiz about how to avoid job scams.
While some people are long-term unemployed for no reason, we can usually see a reason when someone can’t seem to find a job. Those who have a great attitude and have been able to overcome depression, anger and unrealistic expectations, will usually land in a hurry. Good luck!
Did I miss anything? If you have some other reasons why people remain long-term unemployed, please comment below and/or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you comment, please realize that we moderate comments and any nasty language or attacking comments will not be published. Disagree if you like….we welcome it! Just do it with civility!