You don't get it: You've scoured the Internet for jobs. You've blanketed the market with your résumé. You've sent a basic cover letter with every application. Why isn't anything happening?
While simply submitting your application materials and waiting for an opportunity to fall in your lap might have been enough to land a job at one point in time, the frustrating reality of today's job market makes that type of job search impossible. Instead, today's job seekers must go above and beyond if they want to stand a chance at landing a great opportunity.
Competing for work is a process that requires full engagement but generates significant momentum, says Jim Villwock, author of "Whacked Again! Secrets to Getting Back on the Executive Saddle." But, many job seekers get distracted in their searches and get frustrated when they don't see results right away.
"Initially, it is overconfidence that the process will be easy and [that] time should be carved out for family, sports and other activities that were neglected when working. The opposite is true. Getting a job is usually more work than being employed," Villwock says. "The core mistake is not procrastination, not working on a résumé or not going to a networking meeting. It is not knowing the process and working the plan to get the job that you deserve."
Here are 10 reasons your job search might not be succeeding:
1. You aren't networking
No one can help you find a job if you they don't know you need it. Your friends, family and previous employers all know someone who knows someone, so utilize their knowledge and connections as you look for work.
Additionally, make yourself (and your job search) visible on social and professional networking sites like BrightFuse, Facebook or LinkedIn. According to a survey by Robert Half International, 62 percent of executives think professional networking sites will be useful while searching for candidates in the next few years. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they would use social networking sites as a recruitment resource.
2. You're skipping the cover letter online
For some reason, people can't get used to the idea of how to submit a cover letter online, so they just skip the step altogether. Wrong move, people. Your cover letter is your chance to make a good first impression or address any inconsistencies on your résumé. When sending your application via e-mail, your cover letter serves as the body of the e-mail and your résumé is attached.
3. Your cover letter is generic
Now that we know you have to send a cover letter, the next step is making sure that it's not generic. You need to tailor each letter to a specific job and person, while clearly identifying the aspects of your background that meet the employer's needs, says Ane Powers, managing partner at The White Hawk Group, a career management firm.
"Your cover letter is your ticket to the interview. The ticket is voided and placed in the 'thanks, but no thanks' pile if it doesn't scream 'I am a perfect fit for this position,'" she says.
4. You're procrastinating
Oftentimes, when we don't see the results we want, we get frustrated and worried. After applying to so many jobs without hearing anything, you just don't have the energy to update your résumé, write a targeted cover letter or follow up with a hiring manager, so you put it off until tomorrow, then the next day and the next day. But why put off tomorrow what can be done today? Your dream job is not going to fall from the sky, so continue to endure and be proactive in your search.
5. You're only searching for jobs on the Internet
While job boards and company Web sites are a great starting place to find a job, the majority of open positions are never advertised, Powers says. Communicate with people who can help you: human resource managers, recruiters and successful professionals will all be key in discovering new opportunities.
6. You're not doing your research
This might be the most basic piece of job advice out there, yet some people still choose not to follow it. Executives polled by RHI said 25 percent of candidates didn't have any knowledge of the company or industry to which they're applying.
Things change every day in business, especially in today's market. It's important to know of any changes going on at the company where you're applying. If you are applying for work in a new industry, do some research to prove that you can be a valuable addition to that field.
7. You're blanketing the market with your résumé
"Attractive candidates demonstrate strategic marketing. Blanketing the market with your résumé demonstrates desperation and lack of strategic thinking," Powers says. Don't send résumés to every single job opening out there. Identify the organizations that meet your requirements and go from there.
8. You're not following up
Too many job seekers assume that if they haven't heard back from an employer, it's because they've been shot down for the position. While that may be true, there is also every possibility that your résumé never made it to its final destination or it got lost in the flood of submissions. Eighty-two percent of executives say candidates should contact hiring managers via e-mail, phone or personalized letter within two weeks of submitting their résumés, according to RHI. Just contact the hiring manager to say that you wanted to confirm your application was received and ask if there is anything else they need from you.
9. You have too many distractions
Try to focus on only your job search for a couple hours each day -- don't check your personal e-mail, make phone calls or surf the Internet (unless it's for jobs).
"Conducting a job campaign is a full-time job. As with any job, to achieve results, one needs to set goals and develop an action plan to achieve the goals," Powers says.
10. You don't ask for the job
Many candidates are shy about being to outspoken or upfront about their desire for the job, but many hiring managers will be impressed with your candor.
"Employers are looking for candidates who are excited about the position," Powers says. Be forward and ask for the position by telling the interviewer why it is a good fit for you and the organization.
Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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