If you scroll through listings on employment or classified sites, it seems that there are no shortage of jobs out there. So when you’re constantly applying and hearing nothing back, it can be really frustrating. In most cases, there are many, many candidates that apply for each job role advertised and so competition is fierce- and unless you’re the best at what you do (or perfectly suited to the role) you’ll continue to be overlooked. Here’s why employers are always picking other candidates over you, and what you can do about it.
You don’t have the right education
One of the most important things you can have behind you career-wise is relevant education. A degree in any subject is a great start, since many employers will require this even to consider interviewing you. From there, you can take on further or specialist education tailored to what you want to work in. If your degree is relevant to what you want to do, you could go on and specialise with a masters. For example, a degree in engineering would lead on nicely to a masters in a specific type of engineering that you want to do. However, a degree also enables you to get onto different courses and can just act as a stepping stone. This means that if you’ve been to university in the past and graduated, you already have a useful qualification even if it’s not in the area you want to work in. If you’re going back to university in adulthood, it makes sense to carefully consider the career you want so you can pick the most relevant course and avoid having to do more additional education to specialise. For example, if you want a career in aviation, doing a degree in a flight training center would be the way to go. If you know you want to work in healthcare then a healthcare degree of some kind would make the best sense. Sure, you can change your mind and go back and study further once you graduate, but it will cost you more money and time.
You need more experience
Education is what will open the door to job roles that would have previously been unavailable to you. However, it’s experience that will secure you the job in most cases and will help you to stand out from other candidates. You might be lucky enough to graduate and walk straight into a job that’s happy to train you up, but it’s unlikely so this is something you’ll need to consider. Voluntary work is a good way to build up some experience, aim to do this in an area which links to the career you want. For example, if you want to learn a trade then you could shadow an existing tradesperson and have them teach you the craft. If you want to work in the criminal justice system, voluntary work with the prisons, police, courts or probation would all be useful.
You’re not coming across as the right kind of personality
Along with education and experience, there’s something else that employers are looking for when scouring CVs and interviewing candidates. And that’s their personality, they’re often after a particular kind of character that fit in well with the existing team and have certain traits that enable them to work well in the job. Of course, you’re not to know what these are but there are some clues you can take from the ad and the job itself. If for example it’s a very team based job where you’re working with others then of course, they company will be looking for team players. If it’s the sort of job where you’ll be customer facing then they’ll need to know you’re able to handle all different kinds of people. Instead of just saying what you want them to hear, prove it with your hobbies and additional voluntary work experience. For team jobs, take up a team sport so you can show that you work and communicate well with others. For creative jobs, take up writing, painting or crafting. If you need to be able to work with diverse people, do voluntary work in a hospital, soup kitchen, nursing home or womens refuge. These are the clues employers will be looking at to determine if you’re right for the role. It could well be the difference between them choosing you over another similar candidate. And use this as self development experience, with voluntary work you’re genuinely helping others, and hobbies enable you to meet new people and learn new skills so they’re always worth doing either way.
You’re stuck in a rut
To move forward in your career or change completely, you have to take that first step. It seems obvious, but nothing is going to change unless you get up and do something about it. If you get up every morning feeling like you hate your job, that your role is no longer right for you or that you’re not being challenged then you shouldn’t just accept it. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with work, sometimes it can feel like ‘better the devil you know’ and when you’ve been at a place for years, know the role and how much money you’re earning, a shake up can be difficult. Changing your job takes guts, sometimes it can mean starting again at the bottom of the career ladder on less money, as there’s the opportunity to work your way up which you don’t have in your current role. It can mean moving up to a job that’s hard work, more responsibility and generally means a massive change in your life. But if you’re not satisfied in what you’re doing right now, chances are it will be the best thing you’ve ever done. We spend so much time in the workplace, we need to find something interesting or rewarding about what we do. Don’t just plod through each day and settle, do something about it.