If college taught us more about living in the real world than it did about how to write a 30-page research paper, you probably wouldn't be reading this.
I'm not discrediting the importance of higher education; I am just curious as to why I meet so many unemployed college graduates. You have posted your résumé on every job board and submitted it to job postings every day, yet you are still unemployed.
You also probably subsist on ramen noodles in your parents’ basement (I pass no judgment). Well, good news: One of these seven reasons may be why you're not getting hired.
1. Your résumé is weak.
Résumés have one function, and one function only: to get an interview. That’s it.
First, ditch the "Objective" section on your résumé. Far too many of them start with generic objective section that reads something like, “Seeking a position in customer service to allow me to utilize my exceptional skills.”
Avoid generalities. Your résumé should be compelling and quickly grab the reader's attention. Think of your résumé as the front page of the newspaper, where the top and center sections get the most attention. You want your strongest information there: "Summary of Qualifications."
Concerning job responsibilities, you must provide quantitative data. Rather than, “Increased revenue,” write “Increased revenue by $15,000.”
You provided excellent customer service? How so? EVERYONE lists having experience with x, y and z, but few provide tangible examples.
2. You're looking for jobs in the wrong places.
If your internships and experience in college were with non-profits, then randomly applying to a management job at a restaurant chain will likely not yield results. This isn't to say you cannot reinvent your career; you just must have some sort of experience in the job to which you are applying.
Try to see your résumé and experience through the lens of a recruiter or hiring manager. If on paper, you appear to be the world’s best oceanographer, would you bother calling yourself in for an interview to a job teaching desert survival?
3. You fail to adequately prepare for interviews.
Never walk into an interview blind. Do your research. Of course, start with the basics, like knowing the company’s mission statement and the job description, but also understand the function of the job.
If you understand the day-to-day of the job and what makes someone successful in a given role, you'll be able to better articulate how your experience will benefit the company and make you the most viable candidate.
4. You only share how the job will help you.
The interview is your time to share how your experience and expertise will make you the best person for the position and what you will bring to the company. This is NOT the time to share how badly you want this job so you can gain experience.
A company does not want to hire you so it can give you more than what you give it. You must convince the hiring manager that he or she will gain value from hiring you.
Remember, this is about the company and filling its position with the best person; it is not the time for you to share how you will eventually be awesome at another company. While a given job may very well be a stepping stone, that is not a fact to point out during an interview.
5. You share negative experiences during the interview.
An interview is NEVER a time to speak negatively. Your last manager was a tyrant and gave you b*tch work? Spin it positively (but honestly). You "were not challenged enough by the position and responsibilities" (which is true).
ONLY share a negative experience if the interviewer asks how you dealt with a difficult situation. In that case, you always want to end the answer with a positive resolution and a valuable lesson you gained from that situation. If the experience you plan to share does not have a positive resolution, choose another example.
This goes back to preparation; you should definitely plan on the interviewer asking you a variance of the question, “Tell me how you dealt with a difficult situation..."
6. You do not follow up after an interview.
Always follow up after an interview. Even if you discover during the interview that you do not want the job, you never know the connections the interviewer may have. He or she may refer you to someone who's recruiting candidates for your dream job. You never know.
You should have thank-you cards on hand and drop them in the mail the same day as the interview.
Who doesn't love receiving something in the mail besides a bill? A written thank-you letter will make you stand out from other candidates and is much more personal than an email.
However, if the interviewer expresses that a hiring decision will be made within the next day or two, then you should send an email. Any follow up is better than none at all.
7. You lose hope.
We're an adventurous generation; we crave excitement and challenge the status quo more than any generation before us. We hope for the future and an ideology that we WILL change the world. You just can’t stop moving.
It is discouraging to be unemployed for days to weeks to months, but you can never lose hope because losing hope means failing to display your high energy and enthusiasm. Employers need to see that in you and know that you'll bring it to the table each and every day.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It