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Why your job applications aren’t getting results: 15 expert tips for successful job-hunting

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Original article by Impactpool

The stress of job searching

Job hunting can often feel like an arduous journey, growing more discouraging with time as rejections and silence become the norm.

Being rejected is part of the job search process. Many of the successful candidates in this sector have applied more than 100 times before getting to where they are now.

Dr Phanuel Tawanda Gwinji at UNV mentioned that in this webinar and so did Claudia in her podcast with us about how she started as an intern and now at a P5 level by 30 years old. To work in this industry, you have to be persistent. It does not happen quickly, but then again, great things take time.

Instead of persistently sending out applications without results, it’s wise to take a step back and reflect on the underlying issues preventing you from securing your desired position. Diagnosing the problem accurately at this stage can save you valuable time in the long run.

Many organisations, especially large NGOs would not contact you if you did not get shortlisted or make it to the interview round, the luckiest receive a rejection letter only.

Sometimes, you can ask them for feedback and get a response, but oftentimes, that does not happen. We share many tips in this article: What happened to my UN application? Was it even read?

Listed below are 15 possible reasons for your job search challenges and effective solutions, categorised according to the different stages of the job application process.

If You’re Not Receiving Callbacks or Interviews

  • Your Resume and Cover Letter Lack Personalization: If you’ve sent numerous applications with minimal response, it might be because you’re using a generic resume and cover letter for every application. Tailoring these documents to match the job’s requirements is crucial. Highlight your relevant skills and experiences to showcase how you are a perfect fit for the role. 

  • Improper Resume Formatting for ATS: Online applications often involve applicant tracking systems (ATS) that scan resumes. Ensure your resume is ATS-friendly by avoiding complex formatting, incorporating relevant keywords from the job description, and using standard section headings.
  • Applying to Incompatible Positions: Yes, sometimes, you can apply to a job that you do not meet 100% of the requirements, but it is important to know which of the requirements are “desired” or “essential”. 

  • You must have all the essential requirements and additional skills that make you stand out from the rest of the other applicants. 
  • Before applying, critically assess whether you possess the skills necessary for the job or can quickly acquire them. Avoid wasting time on roles for which you are either overqualified or underqualified.

  • Limited Job Applications: Being overly selective in your job choices can lengthen your job search. Consider applying for “stepping stone” roles that help you gain skills to qualify for your dream job. At impactpool these can be temporary assignments or readvertised jobs
  • Underutilizing Your Network: Networking is essential during job hunting. Broadly share your job search endeavours to tap into both first-degree and second-degree connections who may offer valuable insights or referrals.

If You’re Progressing to Phone Screens or Initial Interviews But Not Advancing

  • Inadequate Preparation for Phone Screens: Treat phone screens seriously by researching the company, practising your pitch, and having your salary expectations ready, as they are essentially interviews.

  • Insufficient Knowledge About the Company: Demonstrating interest in the company can increase your chances of being hired. Familiarise yourself with the company’s products, services, values, and culture to show genuine enthusiasm.

  • Lack of Preparation for Common Interview Questions: Practise answering common interview questions out loud to improve your interview performance. Avoid memorising responses, as they should be tailored to each company’s unique needs. Take a look at the Impactpool Sample Questions database.

  • Neglecting Soft Skills: Pay attention to soft skills such as storytelling, active listening, eye contact, empathy, and small talk. These skills can significantly impact your interview success.
  • Failing Technical Screens: If you consistently struggle with technical assessments, consider further study and practice. Ensure you are not making common mistakes and evaluate if you are targeting the right jobs.

If You’re Receiving Multiple Interviews But No Offers

  • Missing a Compelling Career Narrative: A strong job application requires more than just skills. Craft a narrative that explains why the position aligns with your professional development, making your motivation clear. Book a career coach to practise this with. 

  • Excessive Enthusiasm: While enthusiasm is valuable, excessive eagerness can raise concerns for interviewers. Maintain a balanced level of enthusiasm and professionalism throughout the interview process.
  • Lack of Memorable Qualities: To stand out, showcase your passion for something relevant to the job or an interesting, unrelated hobby. Be memorable for the right reasons during the interview.

  • Negativity: Avoid negative comments about previous employers or overly critical feedback when discussing potential improvements. Focus on offering constructive solutions instead.
  • Unprepared References: Ensure that your references align with the information you’ve provided during interviews. Inform your references about the position you’ve applied for and provide them with relevant documents to maintain consistency. Coach your references.

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