I recently read an article in the Globe and Mail titled, A 29-year-old on the difficulties of landing a first job. While I understand the argument that the author was attempting to make, I’m sorry but I just don’t buy it. If you have been looking for a job in your field for quite a few years since you graduated, and you still don’t have a job in your chosen profession, I hate to break it to you, but you are doing something wrong. Maybe it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate your job hunting process. You can only blame nepotism or the economy for so long.

Here are four reasons why you haven’t been able to find a job in your field:

1) You are not putting enough work into looking for a job

What you can do to fix this: Put more work into each résumé and cover letter

Finding a job is a job in itself. How many résumés are you sending out a day? One a day won’t cut it. 100 a day is perhaps too many to write up a quality, targeted résumé and cover letter for each job. Don’t just blast away 100 emails with the same résumé attached and think that’s going to land you a job.

A résumé and cover letter that are targeted to a job description have a much higher chance of making it to a hiring managers desk. This means sending out fewer résumés a day, but putting more effort into each résumé and cover letter, making sure to highlight how you meet the requirements for each job.

2) You are being too picky

What you can do to fix this: Take advantage of the opportunity you are presented

Are you only applying to jobs that are exactly what you want, in the perfect neighbourhood or salary range you have always dreamed of? Looking for all of the qualities you want in a job is only realistic once you are established in your field. Maybe you think you are too qualified to be applying to an entry level position?

To most employers, on-the-job experience is very important. If you are looking for your first job in your field, chances are you need to get experience anywhere you can get it. Don’t expect to land your dream job right away. While there are no guarantees, taking that entry level job now could get you closer to landing your dream job in the future. You might not start off at the perfect job you dreamed of, but before you know it, the time you put in at this job will give you the necessary experience to apply elsewhere.

3) You are doing something wrong on your résumé and cover letter

What you can do to fix this: Make sure your résumé and cover letter highlight your skills as they apply to the job requirements

As mentioned earlier, you should be spending quite a bit of time per résumé and cover letter, making sure they are targeted to each job you apply for. Generic résumés won’t get a call back unless they appear to meet all the criteria outlined in the job description. Don’t make things up if you don’t have the skills required. However, if you have what they are asking for, make sure those skills are clearly outlined, not only on your résumé, but on your cover letter and submission email as well. Be sure that the email title always includes the job title you are applying for as well.

4) You need to brush up on your interview skills

What you can do to fix this: Be prepared with something to talk about rather than go into an interview blind

The interview is one of the toughest parts of the job hunt. The best way to deal with stress before an interview is to become as prepared as possible. Do background research on the company you are applying at. Have some questions in mind that you want to ask. Try to think of what they might ask you during the interview and prepare a few answers.

Equally as important as being prepared is putting your best face forward. Always dress up for an interview, even if you are told the work environment is a casual atmosphere. When it comes to an interview, it never hurts to overdress.

Think that the trick to finding a job is who you know? Consider working with a recruiter

Recruiters know a lot of people, especially ones that are hiring. A few reasons you might want to consider working with a recruiter include:

  • Access to the types of jobs you are looking for that are sometimes not posted on job boards or websites

  • Help pinpointing exactly what areas you need to work on improving to get you closer to your dream job. Perhaps your weakness is your résumé, or your interview skills? A recruiter is a pro at these things and can help you become one too.

  • A recruiter will also be able to highlight your strengths and work to help you showcase those to a potential employer in the best light possible on your résumé and during your interview.

  • They’ll tell you if you are being unrealistic. Maybe you have your sights set on a particular salary, but if you have no experience, and are hoping to find a job, a recruiter can tell you what is realistic for someone in your position.

Choose a recruiter that specializes in your field

Working with a recruiter that knows your field means they will better be able to negotiate the best contract and salary for you. For example, if you specialize in a technical profession, you will want to work with an IT recruiter. Work in finance? You’ll want one that specializes in recruiting for that field.

If you have been looking for a job for a long time with no luck, maybe it’s time to reach out to a recruiter. They might be just what you need to help you figure out what you’ve been doing wrong all these years and help you get the dream job you’ve been looking for.


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