17 Incredibly Common Reasons You Haven't Found a New Job Yet

There are plenty of potential jobs open, but it may be hard to land one if you aren’t selling yourself properly.
Updated Feb. 5, 2024
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stressed applicants waiting for job interview

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Americans continue to switch jobs to lock in better benefits or to stop living paycheck to paycheck. But not everyone is getting offered a job just because they apply for one.

If you’re looking for a new position and haven’t had any takers yet, there may be some things you can do to get more interest in your application for different jobs.

Check out some of these reasons you may not have been able to find a job yet and see what changes you can make to set yourself apart from the competition.

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You’re using the same resume for every application

Jirapong/Adobe newly graduate holding resume application with pen

Each job you’re applying for may be different, so it’s a good idea to tailor your resume to the position you want. 

Consider creating several versions of your resume to highlight the skills you have that are specific to that position. You definitely need special resumes if you’re applying for jobs in different fields.

You’re not utilizing your network

Rawpixel.com/Adobe diverse group of business people having a meetup

You have a network that can work for you whether you’re a seasoned professional or just out of college. Talk to former colleagues or friends in the industry to let them know you’re looking for a new position. 

Check in with former professors or your alma mater’s career center to see if they may have leads. Even friends and family can help you make a personal connection to a hiring professional at a company.

You’re applying for jobs you aren’t qualified for

thanksforbuying/Adobe job application and resume documents

There may be a listing for a dream job you desperately want, but applying may be a waste of time if you don’t have the qualifications for the position. 

Think about finding a position that may be lower on the ladder and use it as a way to get experience and work your way up in a company.

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You’re too quick to dismiss a job listing

myboys.me/Adobe  woman using computer laptop to search for a new job

No job is perfect, and no job has the perfect description. Perhaps there’s work you don’t want to do or a certain qualification you don’t have. 

Don’t skip over a job description just because it doesn’t fit all of your criteria. You could be missing a great opportunity. You may be surprised by what you can achieve if you take a chance on a job listing.

You’re using job aggregator websites

Monkey Business/Adobe woman in computer room circling items in newspaper

Some websites may be stacked with plenty of job listings, but that could also mean it’s stacked with plenty of applicants. It could be easy for you to get lost in the crowd.

You may find a great job on an aggregator website, but take a look at the company’s career page to see if it’s also listed there. If you apply for the position directly, you may stand out from the others.

You don’t have a cover letter

fizkes/Adobe  woman writing email on laptop screen online working from home

Some companies may allow you to add a cover letter as an option, but treat it as mandatory and take advantage of that additional chance to sell yourself. It’s a good idea to have a cover letter template saved, but remember to tailor the letter for specific jobs.

Try to mention the specific company and job title in a cover letter. And be sure to include a paragraph with information about how your experience fits with the company you want to work for.

You aren’t taking advantage of keywords

New Africa/Adobe magnifier glass and keyboard on black slate background

Some companies may use a computer program to screen applications. Hitting keywords could help you get your resume to the next level.

Check the job listing for keywords such as specific programs or certifications. You also may want to pay attention to how they word job duties or experience. Then take a look at your cover letter and resume and find ways to add those keywords in.

You haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile

Chinnapong/Adobe LinkedIn human resource

LinkedIn is a great professional social media site that can help you get yourself in front of potential employers. Make sure your profile page is up to date and looks professional.

You also may want to take advantage of LinkedIn’s feed by posting examples of your recent work for your network to see or commentary about news related to your field.

You don’t use professional language

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe translator working with smiling businesswoman

Talking to someone professionally is different from talking to family or chatting with friends. Remember to use professional language and present yourself in a professional way wherever a potential employer may interact with you. 

Update your resume and cover letter or review your LinkedIn profile to make sure you’re presenting your best professional self.

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You don’t have a professional online presence

Alliance/Adobe housewife checking social media on laptop and smartphone

Social media has become more important in recent years, so you may want to consider a professional social media account to show off your work or comment on topics in your field. 

Try to use LinkedIn’s feed to highlight your work or post pictures or articles on places like Instagram and Twitter that are directly related to what you want to do.

Pro tip: Remember to keep your professional and personal social media accounts separate. Potential employers don’t want to see your vacation pictures or comments to your friends on Twitter.

You’re only searching for big names

Andreas Prott/ADOBE logos of the company Google

Sure, it’s great to have a Fortune 500 company on your resume, but everyone wants a big name on their resume. Sometimes it may be better to be a big fish in a little pond rather than the other way around. 

So don’t be afraid to apply for jobs at smaller companies rather than going only to the big pond.

You’re relying on your years of experience

fizkes/Adobe female employer reading candidate's resume

You may have been working in your field for decades, but what have you done lately? Employers focus on what you’ve accomplished in the past five years than what you did 25 years ago, so make sure your most recent work is at the top of your resume.

It’s also a good idea to include recent certifications you have earned on the latest technology rather than something that may be outdated now.

You don’t set aside time for your job search

Syda Productions/Adobe businessman with computer working at office

It takes work to find work, so treat your job search as a job. Try to schedule a set amount of uninterrupted time each day to look for a job. Set yourself goals like updating your resume or applying for a certain number of jobs each day to help you get where you want to go.

And find ways to cut out distractions so you don’t end up wasting your time at your computer on frivolous things instead of getting your next position.

You aren’t practicing your interview skills

Drobot Dean/Adobe young asian woman smiling and holding resume

Are you prepared for an interview if you make it that far in the hiring process? Do some research or brainstorm potential questions a possible employer may ask so you can prepare answers. 

It may also be a good idea to talk with a friend or someone who can do a mock interview with you to help you prepare.

You don’t have a positive attitude

michael spring/Adobe happy young business woman showing a thumbs up

It can be demoralizing to send out resumes and get no replies or acknowledgements. A good way to get back on track is to take a breath and put on a positive attitude. Remind yourself that a great job is just around the corner or that you have what it takes to be a success. 

Having a positive mindset can give you the boost you need to keep going or may make an employer more willing to hire you.

You don’t have references

Pormezz/Adobe  boss encourages the staff to do a very good job

You may have former co-workers or employers who know you’re a great asset to any company. Or perhaps you’ve worked with neighbors or friends who can vouch for your work ethic. 

It’s a good idea to start working on collecting potential references now by letting them know you’re looking for a job and asking if they would be interested in being a reference for you.

You haven’t asked for help

ivanko80/Adobe friends having a coffee together

Any little bit of help from someone can open a major door for your career.

Consider asking friends and family if they know someone with an open position at their company. Hire a professional career coach to look over your resume or help you with your interview skills. Reach out to professors, former co-workers, or mentors for advice or job leads. 

Bottom line

Elnur/Adobe business meeting between businessman and businesswoman

If you’re looking for good ways to make extra cash, switching jobs may be a great option to put more money in your pocket. But you have to get that job offer first.

Changing jobs may be a daunting task, but there are simple changes you can make now that can smooth the process and lead to a greater career.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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