Sarah Sipek, CareerBuilder writer
It’s been months. You’ve applied to dozens of jobs — and maybe even gone on a few interviews — but you still haven’t received a job offer. What gives?
Even with the job market improving in recent years, this is likely a familiar scenario for many job seekers. And as easy as it may be to blame your lack of success on the economy or a particularly picky hiring manager, you are ultimately responsible for your job search success.
And as frustrating as not getting hired may be, there is a solution. And it starts with identifying the “why.”
Below are the top job search mistakes applicants make and how to fix them and land your dream job:
You’re not putting in the time. Many experts assert that finding a job is a full-time job. So make sure you’re putting in the hours. If you’re currently unemployed, job-hunting is your full-time job. Make sure you’re allotting a work-week’s worth of hours to pursing the job search in some capacity — whether that’s editing your resume, applying to jobs, networking or going on interviews.
If you are currently employed, it’s not feasible to spend 40-hours a week looking for a new position. Instead, carve out time either in the early morning or after work to devote to job-searching tasks.
You’re applying to every job, not the right job. Some people take a slash-and-burn approach to the job application process: They apply to every job the come across, often without regard to qualifications or best fit. The theory being the more jobs you apply to, the better the odds of landing an interview.
In reality, the best job searches are specific and focused on positions that match your current skill set and level of experience. Employers want candidates who have demonstrated excellence in their field, not marginally qualified individuals with no real passion for the work.
Use your time wisely. Conduct research on the position as well as the company before applying. This will ensure you’re qualified for the position and help you prepare ahead of time for a potential interview down the line.
You aren’t networking. There’s a reason why everyone recommends networking during your job search: It works! It’s understandable that you may feel slightly uncomfortable reaching out to former classmates, friends and family members for leads on jobs, but you need to remember that networking is a give-and-take. Networking is most effective when both the networker and the contact reciprocally benefit from the relationship. Even if your contact does not benefit immediately from knowing you, he or she should gain something from the relationship eventually.
You only have one version of your resume. Hiring managers prefer customized resumes. Try tweaking your objective statement to better match the jobs you are applying to.
It’s also important for your resume to have the right keywords for each specific job. Today’s applicant tracking systems (ATS) scan resumes for keywords that match the job description. Spending some extra time to match your language with the words a computer will search for can help distinguish you from the pack and help you land an interview.
You’re relying too much on job boards. The job search is not a passive process. Posting your resume to a job board, sitting back and waiting for an employer to contact you will not get you any job offers.
You need to be an active applicant. Post your resume to a job board and then follow up with specific companies with positions you’re interested in. It never hurts to send an email to the hiring manager to let them know to keep a look-out for your application.
And again, network. Meeting people face-to-face and having conversations is an infinitely more effective way of selling yourself as a candidate. Companies are hiring a person, not a piece of paper with a list of accomplishments.
Need help networking? Check out this list of people you should talk to about your career.