How To Overcome Job Search Challenges

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Common challenges that job seekers face, and how can they be overcome.

To help job seekers conquer employment obstacles, we asked recruiters and HR professionals this question for their insights. From building up your network to reaching out for referrals, here are several strategies to master your job search process.

Here are 12 ways to overcome job search struggles:

1. Reach Out for Referrals

Job seekers who aren’t landing any interviews may be applying online to hundreds of jobs, one after another using the same resume each time, with no cover letter, and on an online job portal that just doesn’t work for them. It’s exhausting and unlikely to yield results. I tell my clients to focus on a few particular companies or jobs of interest and really develop an outreach strategy for each of those targets through networking, employee referrals, and references.

Jennifer Holtz, Second Wind Career Strategies

2. Message Hiring Managers

Online applications are easily the most common method job seekers use to find their next position. However, it’s not unusual for your resume to get lost in the shuffle. Directly messaging a hiring manager can help you stand out from the crowd and may even lead to a new opportunity that wasn’t broadcasted elsewhere. You may even earn the opportunity to work for that company you’ve been eyeing for a while with a simple email. Don’t be afraid to reach out to hiring managers and make a fantastic first impression.

Beth Baranski, Markitors

3. Tailor Your Application

It is common for job seekers to apply for multiple organizations and not hear back from most of them. Most people tend to apply for jobs indiscriminately and keep reusing the one or two application templates they have — and that’s where they go wrong. An application that isn’t personalized to highlight the most relevant information often gets no response. So, to get noticed by recruiters, write each application afresh. You may repeat phrases and sentences, but each application and cover letter’s tone, focus, and context must be unique. Be sure to proofread and edit the application before sending, and follow up in a few days’ time.

Joe Flanagan, VelvetJobs

4. Apply Keywords for Recruiting Software

Many recruiters reject up to 95% of resumes and CVs based on the skill and job title keywords used, which is often done automatically by recruiting software. This can easily be avoided by clever wording and the use of synonyms. Describing your skills and past positions with the most common and simple yet informative keywords can increase the chances of making it into the further recruitment stages.

Michael Sena, Senacea

5. Highlight Transferable Skills

It can be frustrating when you are looking for a position that does not require prior experience and when you believe that the term “entry-level” should actually mean what it says. However, you do not always have to follow job description requirements as literally as they are described. For instance, if you see an entry-level job that requires two years of customer service experience, it doesn’t mean that you held a job called “customer service representative.” Basically, your prior work experience does not always have to match up so literally with the prior work experience requirements listed in the job ad, as long as there are some key elements of your past work experiences that match up sufficiently with what the hiring manager is looking for. If you need to you can also use the cover letter to expand on the elements you bring to the job. 

Maegan Griffin, Skin Pharm

6. Fight Self-Doubt

It is not unusual for job seekers to have feelings of self-doubt. This is especially true when you are not receiving any emails, calls back, or appointments for interviews. One way to overcome this struggle is to remind yourself of victories and accomplishments you’ve experienced in the past and use this confidence boost to persevere. Optimism and drive to succeed will help when filling out job applications and assist you in getting noticed for the next job.

Brittany Kaiser, Gryphon Digital Mining

7. Stick to Common Resume Formats

One of the core difficulties job seekers face is failing to pass applicant tracking systems (ATS). Applicant tracking systems help businesses weed out candidates on autopilot, so recruiters end up with a list of cream-of-the-crop job candidates whose applications likely fit the job description like a plug in a socket. To avoid getting rejected by an ATS, skim through the job ad. Then, tailor your resume to the job ad, so it spotlights the right skills and experiences relevant to this particular employer. Lastly, it’s also good practice to stick to commonly accepted resume formats  and avoid overly formatted templates so that the ATS doesn’t reject your application out of confusion.

Magda Klimkiewicz, Zety

8. Consult a Resume Writer

Many job seekers struggle with landing interviews for jobs even though they are fully qualified. This is an indication that their resumes needs to be rewritten. A professional resume writer optimizes a resume so that it passes through an applicant tracking system and has a higher chance of reaching the hiring manager.

Rym Selmi, MiiRO

9. Build Up Your Network

Every job seeker faces the struggle of not knowing the right person at some point in their life. This struggle is common for fresh college graduates who don’t have a network built up yet. The solution is simple: network. These days, you can use social media to build your network. Start with people you know and branch out to people from companies that you would enjoy working for. These valuable connections can help you secure a new position.

Chris Cronin, Kitanica

10. Explain Gaps in Your Resume

Many people have gaps in their resumes that make it difficult to find new employment. If this comes up in an interview, simply explain what you were doing during that time, whether it was taking care of a family member or traveling. Good explanations can help employers understand the situation and make a decision based on that.

Aidan Cole, Tatbrow

11. Organize Your Job Search

Searching for a job can be a full-time job in and of itself. So what do you do when your busy schedule gets in the way of the job hunt? Create an organized system for job searching to streamline the process and reduce the amount of time you spend on it daily. You could also dedicate a specific time each day to eliminate distractions and focus solely on your job search.

Haim Medine, Mark Henry Jewelry

12. Optimize Your Profile

Given how slow the job market currently is, finding job roles that need to be filled is already difficult. On top of that, technology has made it painfully easy for candidates to apply for jobs online. As a result, the competition is cut-throat, which makes it harder and harder for candidates to get noticed. In times like these, candidates must take it upon themselves to design a really strong profile that gives the recruiter everything they’re looking for. From highlighting your biggest achievements to gaining referrals, ensure that you leave no stone unturned.

Cody Crawford, Low Offset

How JobsInTheUS Can Help

Our network of state-specific job sites help job seekers find real, local, quality jobs where they want to work — including full-time, part-time, remote and seasonal positions. Search for local jobs by keywords, location radius, company, or industry from any of our state sites, including JobsInME, JobsInNH, JobsInVT, JobsInMA, JobsInRI, JobsInCT, and more. Add another dimension to being discovered by employers by logging in and updating your resume now.

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