Job searching can be a long process that requires a lot of patience.
If you have been applying for new jobs for months without any luck, you can’t help but wonder, “why won’t anyone hire me?”
Well, there are numerous possibilities as to why you can’t find a job. The good news is there are also things you can do to fix them and improve your chances of getting hired.
Here are 18 possible reasons no one is hiring you – and what to do to fix it.
Your Resume & Cover Letter Need Work
You may be the perfect candidate for the job, but if your resume and cover letter don’t convey that, you won’t be getting called for an interview.
Hiring managers only scan your resume for 6 seconds on average, meaning it has to be properly formatted and your most important information has to come first.
Many companies also use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan your resume for keywords. So your resume has to be scannable both to the human eye and to the computer software.
Make sure your resume is scannable and passes the 6 second glance test using the (free!) checklist below.
Check for errors such as typos, spelling mistakes, grammatical mistakes, or bad formatting and correct them.
For most people, resumes should only be 1-page long and include some white space. If your resume is longer than 1 page or is too-text heavy, you need to tailor it to the job and cut out anything that’s not relevant.
For example, if you have a college degree, you don’t have to include your high school education. Or, if you’re applying for an office admin job, don’t include your summer babysitting job.
Your strongest skills and accomplishments should be highlighted so that they stand out. Although your resume is yours and is about you, it’s also about them. Employers want to know (quickly) what you can do to help their business. You need to make this clear right from your first impression.
This can be a little tricky to get right, especially if you’re applying for different types of jobs. Getting free resume help is the best way to ensure your resume and cover letter are working for you, not against you.
You’re Making Mistakes with Your Job Search
You may be making mistakes with your job search itself.
One example is that you are only applying for jobs that are posted online when there’s a whole hidden job market out there. Not every job vacancy gets posted on Indeed.
Another mistake you might be making is only applying for a job if you meet 100% of the qualifications. You’re not going to know how to do everything at a new job, and employers understand that. That’s why they train you. So if you meet most of the required qualifications, apply for the job and see what happens!
You’re Applying for the Wrong Jobs
While you don’t need to be 100% qualified for every job you apply to, you do need to meet the minimum qualifications.
Otherwise, this is just a waste of time and adds to that feeling of rejection.
You don’t know how many times I’ve seen first-year college students applying for full-time C-level or Ph.D. positions and then wonder why no one is hiring them.
On the other hand, being overqualified for a job can also be a problem. If you are an experienced C-level professional applying for entry-level positions, you’re probably being overlooked as well.
If you are in this situation and are genuinely interested in applying for these roles, you need to (briefly) explain why in your cover letter. For example, you can say that you’re changing industries or looking for more flexible hours.
You Don’t Stand Out
You don’t want to be another name with another generic resume in a pile. You need to stand out.
I don’t mean doing anything wild or ridiculous with your job application like these bad examples. But you need to show interest and enthusiasm for the job and highlight your skills and achievements.
Show them why they need to hire you. Demonstrate your value and what you’d bring to the company on your application. Make it as blatantly obvious as you can.
How do you do this?
Think of your strengths and how these will support the business, and put that on your resume.
Did you cut costs by 25% in your last job? Or increase customer satisfaction? Did you solve any problems or introduce new, more efficient systems?
This is the sort of thing employers want to know!
Which of these 2 examples stand out more to you:
“Responsible for providing customer service”
“Increased customer satisfaction rating by 25% in 2020 and exceeded department’s sales goals by 35%”
The easier you make things for the hiring manager, the better impression you’ll make.
You Don’t Have the Right Skills or Enough Experience
The labor market is constantly changing. Your skills or experience may no longer be sufficient for the roles you’re interested in. Or maybe you don’t have any job experience at all.
The good news is there are a few different things you can do about this.
If you need to brush up on certain skills or learn some new ones, start by looking into what free online classes are available. There are plenty of them out there!
If you can’t find what you need for free, many of these platforms offer courses for an affordable price (such as $15 per course, or $200-$300 for unlimited access for a year).
You may need something more in-depth, such as a certificate or diploma, that requires you to go back to school. Contact your local colleges and adult education centers to see what’s available. A lot of these programs are being offered online so that they fit around your schedule.
Job Readiness Classes
Also known as essential skills, life skills, and soft skills classes, these workshop programs (which are usually free) focus on getting you ready to work. They teach you things like communication skills, critical thinking, and using technology, as well as how to write a resume and prepare for a job interview.
To see if these classes are available to you, again, contact your local colleges and adult education centers but also look into training centers, libraries, and literacy groups.
If it’s practical experience you’re lacking, volunteering is one way to fix this.
It doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time; volunteering an hour per week or giving up one Saturday per month is usually enough.
Volunteering also provides you with someone you can use as a reference.
Make Your Own Project Or Work Samples
If you haven’t had the chance to use your skills in a professional setting, take some time to make your own projects or work samples that you can use to demonstrate your abilities.
For example, if you want to get into graphic design or freelance writing, create an online portfolio with samples and links to your work, and include the URL on your resume.
You Don’t Have Any Network Connections
A lot of jobs are filled through networking connections and employee referral programs. Not having network connections can make it harder to find a job.
Making networking connections can take time, but there are several different ways you can meet new people. You can use social media, join a professional networking group, or really, just start talking to people and let them know you’re looking for work.
Your Behavior or Attitude
You are being judged on how you behave during every step of the hiring process, not just during an interview.
Submitting an application late or incomplete isn’t going to help you find a job. Neither is complaining, being demanding, or rude while communicating with the employer (over email, over the phone, or in-person). It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to the receptionist or the CEO, you need to be professional and positive.
If you’ve been job searching for a long time, it’s also important that you don’t sound desperate for a job, either. Pay attention to how you act and speak with others, and make sure you don’t come across as cynical.
You Suck at Job Interviews
If you are getting calls for interviews but aren’t getting hired, the good news is that your resume is doing its job.
The bad news is that you might not interview well.
Job interviews are sort of an art form. They range from casual conversations to intense, multi-step processes with projects or homework to complete.
The best way to overcome those job interview nerves is to practice, practice, practice!
To be really effective, though, you need to practice out loud.
If you are working with a career counselor, or have access to one through a career center, request a mock interview with them. Otherwise, ask a friend, family member, or colleague to help you out.
This will help you be prepared for whatever questions they ask. You will learn what not to say, or how to say negative things in a positive way.
During your interview, things like not asking questions, having poor personal hygiene, being negative, or appearing unprepared are all things you want to avoid. (And please make sure your cell phone is turned off!)
There are also things you can (and should) do after every interview.
Think about what questions you were asked. Better yet, write them down. Chances are good you’ll be asked these questions (or similar) again in future interviews.
How did you answer these questions? Was there anything you forgot to mention, or do you have a better example you could use next time?
Were there any questions that you just weren’t expecting to be asked and therefore didn’t prepare for?
If so, you might be able to address it in your thank you letter. And yes, you should be sending a thank you every single time! It does make a difference and can improve your chances of getting hired.
Don’t forget to ask for feedback. If you get that dreaded email or phone call saying that you were not the successful candidate, use this as an opportunity to learn and grow. Ask your contact if they can provide any constructive criticism. You won’t always get an answer, but there’s no harm in trying.
You Didn’t Do Your Research
Knowing nothing about the company you’re applying to isn’t going to get you very far, especially at the interview stage.
“What do you know about our company” or “why do you want to work for us” are common interview questions. If you can’t answer them cohesively, you’re probably not going to be offered the job.
You don’t need to learn everything about the organization, but you should know the basics as well as what’s currently happening with them. This shows employers that you are interested in the role and are knowledgeable about the industry.
You’re Not Following-Up
Employers aren’t going to chase you down, so you can’t be passive in your job search.
Submitting an application online or sending one email isn’t always going to cut it.
You need to follow up with job leads, potential networking connections, and with employers after applying and interviewing for a job.
Unfortunately, they may not respond or follow up with you. But if you’re not getting hired, try reaching out 2-3 times. If you still haven’t heard back, it’s time for you to move on and focus your efforts elsewhere.
And be sure you’re returning emails and calls promptly. I landed one of the best jobs I ever had because I called them back within minutes of getting their initial email. They interviewed and hired me right away before the other candidates responded at all.
Employers Can’t Contact You
Is your voicemail full? Do you even have voicemail set up on your phone?
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve called job seekers at my day job only to discover I can’t leave them a message. If I were calling to set up an interview or offer you a job, guess what? I’m going to move on if I can’t reach you within a few attempts.
Remember, employers aren’t going to chase you down.
The same thing goes for emails that aren’t replied to in a timely manner, or worse yet, emails that bounce back and can’t be sent.
This is such an easy fix!
Take 5 minutes to empty your voicemail (and make sure your greeting is professional, while you’re at it), and make sure you have your email address spelled correctly on your application.
If you are using an email address that’s complicated or easy to misspell (such as “KatelynneSchwarzenegger42661@grt.edu.hr.email.com), consider setting up a new account that’s easier to remember (such as KateLS@email.com) – and don’t forget to check it!
Your Online Presence is Problematic
In a competitive job market, employers may disqualify your application for any reason. If they find anything that can be considered a red flag, you may end up in the “no” pile.
Red flags on your social media can be a little harder to pinpoint because they can come down to personal opinions.
For example, you may not see any issue with what you tweet about or the photos you share on Facebook, but an employer might see something wrong.
While job hunting, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Go back through your profiles and delete anything that might give you a bad professional image, or set your profiles to private.
You Look Like a Job Hopper
It could also be possible that you look like a job hopper. Nowadays, it’s rare for someone to stick with one job or one company throughout their career, but changing jobs every 6 months looks bad on a resume. It gives the impression that you’re a bad employee who can’t keep a job.
But, a lot of jobs are temporary contracts or seasonal. So you may be “job hopping” for the right reasons.
To help hiring managers understand why you’ve moved around so much, tell them! Indicate that the job was seasonal or temporary directly beside your job title on your resume. For example:
- Customer Service Representative (6 Month Contract)
- Camp Counsellor (Summer)
You can also combine roles if they were similar, or back-to-back. Such as:
- Customer Service Representative, ABC Company & Business Inc. (2018 – Present)
If neither of those solutions works for you, address your reasons for job-hopping in your cover letter.
You Lied Or Falsified Information
It’s very easy to figure out if an applicant is lying on their resume.
Employers do background checks and reference checks. Your own social media profiles also give away a lot of information about your past. And if you live in a small community or work in a small industry, there’s a good chance that they know you personally.
Don’t lie on your resume.
It’s more likely going to ruin your reputation than land you a job. It isn’t worth the risk.
You Have a Criminal Record
Criminal records can prevent you from working in certain roles and industries, but there are still plenty of opportunities out there.
Apply to companies that are known to hire felons and people with criminal records. There’s no point applying for roles that you won’t pass the background check for.
Depending on your charges, you may also be able to have your offenses sealed or expunged from your record, or get a pardon.
You Have Bad References
When you’re acing your job interview but aren’t getting any offers, your references might be the problem.
The easiest way to fix this is to make sure you’re using the right people as references.
Most of the time, employers want your current or most recent manager to be one of your references. That can be tricky if things ended on bad terms.
If your boss refuses to be your reference or won’t speak well of you, use someone else. If you had multiple managers such as different shift supervisors, an office manager, and a department manager, pick the person you had the best rapport with.
Failing that, you can use a colleague that you completed tasks or projects for.
As an example, I was a reference for my co-worker who was the head of marketing. While I wasn’t his boss or supervisor, he was responsible for marketing my department. We worked closely together to make sure he met my deadlines and criteria, so I was able to speak to his competencies.
If the problem is you don’t have any references to give, you need to find 3-4 people and ask them.
You Are Expecting Too Much
Asking for an unreasonable salary, flexible hours, or other benefits and forms of compensation and work perks could be why no one is hiring you.
You have every right to be paid what you’re worth and you don’t have to settle or be taken advantage of. But do your research and make sure you don’t have unrealistic salary expectations or are asking for too much.
Figure out what a realistic salary range is based on the job requirements and your experience, and what your absolute non-negotiables are. But leave room to be flexible and negotiate if you want the job offer.
It’s Not You, Really
Yes, sometimes it really isn’t your fault. You are not doing anything wrong, you’re just not getting hired due to external factors.
Internal qualified candidates are usually hired over external ones.
Nepotism and personal favors still happen.
A bad labor market means there’s high unemployment and lots of competition.
You could have specialized skills or are looking for a unique role where there aren’t many opportunities.
And sadly, discrimination is still an issue.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about any of these things.
So Why Won’t Anyone Hire Me?
Although this is a pretty thorough list, there are endless possible common reasons why no one is hiring you.
All you can do is keep trying.
Get help with your resume and preparing for interviews. Grow your skillset. Try a different approach. Correct any of the mistakes mentioned above you may be making. And hang in there!
Amanda Kay, the founder of My Life, I Guess, provides valuable career advice and support for anyone striving to make a living and, more importantly, make a life. Whether it's navigating job searches, learning new skills, overcoming unemployment, or dealing with debt, My Life, I Guess has been a go-to resource for career guidance and financial stability since 2013. Amanda's expertise and relatable approach have been featured in trusted publications such as MSN, Credit.com, Yahoo! Finance, the Ladders and Fairygodboss.