You’re still searching, still unemployed, and getting more and more frustrated by the day. Everybody tells you it’s a numbers game, a waiting game, and that as long as you are doing all the things you know you’re meant to be doing to get a job, that you’ll eventually get hired.
There are, however, a few sneaky reasons why you just aren’t hirable. Perhaps there are a few things you are doing, unwittingly, that are compromising your prospects and sabotaging your search.
Take a look at the following what-not-to-dos and make sure you aren’t guilty of any of them before you start blaming fate or the bad economy for your continued joblessness.
1. You’re a little messy.
It sounds sort of silly and, I don’t know, last century, but personal presentation actually can have a huge amount to do with the impression you make and your hirability. Are you clean? Smell nice? Wearing clean, pressed, well-fitting clothes? Great. Are you pierced or sporting lots of visible tattoos? This, unfortunately (and yes, somewhat unfairly), can impact your chances—same with showing up unshaved.
2. You don’t prep well.
If you’re not walking into every interview having done your homework—reading up on the company, your interviewer, and your industry—then you should be ashamed of yourself. Highly prepared candidates are going to be mopping the floor with you at every turn. If you find the whole process a little daunting, hire a career coach!
3. You bombed the interview.
Giving a good interview means showing up presentable, prepared, and having something to say. If you’re apathetic, unresponsive, monosyllabic, depressed, aggressive, apathetic, or show a bad attitude of any kind, you just will not get hired.
Make sure your interviewer doesn’t have to pry answers out of you. Be prepared to answer truthfully and candidly—and without having to be coaxed. But also make sure not to talk too much, as that can swing you in the opposite direction of bad interviewees. Remember, you’re being graded here on your communication skills—which are crucial! Prove that you have some. Ask a friend to mock interview you and diagnose your situation.
5. You didn’t follow directions.
Job postings are often very specific. If yours asks for a very specific task, say a one-page statement about something specific, or a particular piece of the application, don’t think you can disregard this and see what happens if and when you move forward. Failing to follow your first basic direction doesn’t bode well for a candidate and you likely will not make the first cut.
6. You’re using an archaic job title.
Your job title has been rendered obsolete—or is on the off in your industry. Whether your job is being phased out, or replaced by robots, or your industry is simply stagnating, you might want to consider switching tacks—or switching fields.
7. You’re over- or under-qualified.
You either applied as a shot in the dark or even you know that you’re hideously overqualified. Even if you’re desperate for a job, hiring managers are going to see your impressive resume and assume you’ll leave them for a better job at the earliest opportunity. Consult or lash out on your own—or wait for a job opening that more matches your skills. On the other hand, if you don’t meet at least 60% of the qualifications listed in a posting: don’t bother applying. You’re just wasting everybody’s time (including your own).
8. You’re asking for too much money.
Everyone is tightening their belts. Salaries are taking a bit of a dip across the board. So if you’re asking anything in the tens of thousands above the stated salary range, you might as well be shouting at the hiring manager not to take you seriously.
10. You’re making it all about you.
A little secret: the hiring process isn’t about you and your perfect elevator pitch and your list of skills and experience. It’s about the company: a gap they need to fill, a problem they need to solve. Start thinking how you might help them rather than how they might help you by hiring you. And if you aren’t tailoring your materials for each individual job, then you’re never going to get anywhere—promise.