Young and unemployed? 3 reasons why you’re not getting hired

by Jun 2, 2021

You’ve just graduated from university. The grad cap sits nicely in the closet.

But now—

The pressure is to find a job that will help you jumpstart your career. You’ve already crafted a CV, perhaps even a cover letter, and you’ve been applying for jobs for quite a while now.

But, things aren’t clicking. Employers either ghost you or send you “Thanks but no thanks!” emails. On top of that, there’s the global pandemic and increased unemployment across the nation that don’t exactly help the matter.

Take heart.

You’re about to learn what you might be doing wrong with your job search and what you can do to elevate your chances of success.


1. Your application isn’t ATS-friendly

Here comes a shocker: even before the world turned upside down, most corporate job ads received a whopping 250+ applications on average per ad.

Naturally, recruiters don’t have the capacity to check each and every CV they receive.

That’s why most employers, or 98% of Fortune 500 companies, use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen applicants and rank their CVs on autopilot.

Here’s how it works in more detail:

  1. You submit a CV.
  2. ATS extracts information from it and organises it into several sections (e.g., education, skills, work experience).
  3. The system then searches for specific keywords in your CV and compares them to the job description.
  4. You get a match score from 0-100 or 1-10 that signals to the recruiter how qualified you are for the job.

So, your CV can be rejected after a first ATS pass without involving a human.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting the green light from applicant tracking systems.

For one, always customise your CV to each and every job you’re applying for. To do it, study the job description and write out the keywords related to required skills, experience, or job responsibilities. Then, sprinkle those keywords throughout the CV where it’s appropriate (without overdoing it).

Second, (after you submit your CV to Rate My Resume) consider using freemium AI tools such as Jobscan or ResumeWords to personalise your application. They’ll let you upload your CV, add a link to the job ad, and give you a match score that tells how much your CV matches the job description.

Do that, and you’ll improve your application success rate in a heartbeat.


2. Your online presence is questionable

We all know we should clean up our online presence before applying for jobs. Yet, many of us don’t really put in the legwork to do it.

That’s a costly mistake.

After all, one billion names are googled every day, with 15% having at least one negative result on the first page. On top of that, 80% of recruiters google job seekers prior to inviting them into an interview.

So, before you start job-hunting, audit your online presence:

  1. Google yourself and study the three or four pages to see what employers will see when they google you.
  2. Check your social media profiles (FB, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok) for polarising content like alcohol or drugs, profanity, or even crime.
  3. Consider setting up a professional Instagram account if you don’t want employers to find your private one. Most recruiters want to check candidates’ Instagrams, and they get turned off when they find private accounts.
  4. If you have a blog or used to have one, go back and audit your work. If you find a questionable post, remove it.


3. You don’t stick to best CV practices

When you set out on a job hunt, there’s a good chance you’ll find a ton of advice on how to create a CV.


The content (that promises you’ll start work on Monday) is often contradictory, lacking substance or data-driven answers to make your CV rise above the noise.

Luckily, ResumeLab recently polled nearly 100 Certified Professional CV Writers to show you what’s vital to remember when crafting a CV.

Below is a quick rundown of the study’s core findings:

  • Your CV needs to be a one-pager.
  • Stick to recognisable CV formats (e.g., reverse-chronological, functional) and fonts (e.g., Calibri, Helvetica, Georgia).
  • Always include the following CV sections: contact info (with a link to your LinkedIn profile), objective, work history, education, skills.
  • List courses or extra training you’ve completed if applicable.

On top of that, TalentWorks put together a data-driven guide that will help you improve your job search. Below are a few essential tips from their guide to boost your hireability:

  • Always quantify your achievements from past work experiences (e.g., internships, freelance work).
  • Avoid passive, subordinate words such as “collaborated” or “assisted” that don’t provide any insight into the work you did. Instead, opt for powerful action verbs.
  • Add 15-20 hard skills.
  • Apply if you meet at least 50% of the requirements.
  • Apply to jobs within four days of posting, ideally on Mondays (if possible), and skip Fridays or Saturdays.
  • Aim to apply for 150 to 250 jobs in total. It can take 90+ days to land a job.


Stacking it all up

While finding your first job might feel like a chore, particularly in today’s economy, it’s still doable.

So, put your best foot forward to ensure your CV adheres to the best practices, tailor your application to each job, and clean up your online presence for maximum impact.


Featured image courtesy of Pexels

Max Woolf

Max Woolf

Max Woolf is a job search expert and a career advice writer at ResumeLab. His insights, advice, and commentary have been published by Forbes, Inc., Business Insider, Fast Company, MSN, NBC, Yahoo, USA Today, Fox News, AOL, The Ladders, TechRepublic, Reader’s Digest, Glassdoor, Stanford, G2, and 200+ other outlets. Max’s mission is to help job seekers from all around the world develop their skills, find good career opportunities, and land jobs quickly and without much effort