Despite what many claim is a burgeoning economy, some tech pros still struggle to find work. Those difficulties are sometimes a question of circumstance—some cities and counties simply don’t need tech workers with particular sets of skills, for example. But sometimes it’s more about the candidate needing to change habits or behaviors in order to make themselves more appealing to potential employers.
With that in mind, here are five good reasons why you might have trouble getting hired… unless you change.
You’re Focused on the Past
Some candidates have a hard time accepting that the world around them has changed, suggests Cheryl Palmer, a certified career coach and resume writer. They want the same salary or title as their previous position, even if no company’s offering a job that fits those requirements. “Some job hunters are so limited by the past that they cannot live in the present,” she said. “Often people who have had prestigious job titles will not accept anything less because they feel that they earned the title that they had.”
While you may have indeed earned that previous job title, you must also examine what the market will bear. A project manager with programming experience who wants to lead a team, but can only find jobs for mid-level developers, may have to simply take the latter gig. But that doesn’t mean an experienced tech pro should downgrade career expectations once he or she loses a job. “If you don’t believe in yourself,” Palmer said, “it’s not likely that employers will either.”
You Think Cover Letters and Thank You Notes Are Unnecessary
Career coach and author Lavie Margolin hears a lot of tech pros complain about having to craft perfect cover letters and resumes. Yes, tailoring a cover letter to a specific company or trying to squeeze your accomplishments into a one-page resume can prove arduous— but neglecting either of those documents is a recipe for disaster, as they provide a potential employer with a comprehensive overview of your skills.
You Assume the Job Is Yours
Landing a new position rests, to a large degree, on the strength of a candidate’s resume and interviewing skills. As Palmer points out, if you stubbornly refuse to tailor your resume to specifically target each new position you apply for, you will not land an interview.
On a similar note, poor interviewing skills will cost you the opportunity to progress further in the hiring process, especially if you act as if the job’s already yours. For example, Margolin has encountered candidates who take pride in asking for the salary upfront. “It’s off-putting to the recruiter,” he said. “If it seems like a good position, you should be using the opportunity to learn more about it, not make it seem like you’ve got no interest in the company or the job.”
A focus on negativity also dooms some candidates’ chances. “They’ll make it clear that their last job didn’t work out because management was inept and it wasn’t their fault,” Margolin added. “They have to learn to focus on the positive. No one wants to work with a complainer.”
Defeat Is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Some job seekers believe the deck is stacked against them because of age, ethnicity, sex, or disability. “This belief usually becomes their reality,” Palmer said. “If you believe you won’t get a job, you probably won’t because you will not put forth the necessary effort to get the job.”
Even for those lucky enough to land an interview, fostering a belief that the employer will never hire you will translate into your body language, raising red flags for anyone paying attention.
All Hat, No Cattle
Darrell W. Gurney, a career advisor and recruiting veteran, has noticed that the “bad economy” excuse still gets a lot of traction, despite signs that things are picking up in many tech sectors. “It’s a great excuse to use for not getting a job,” he said, “but there are jobs everywhere.”
When it comes to landing a new gig, he added, simply applying for a bunch of jobs online often doesn’t work—the trick is to get out there and get to know people: “It’s a matter of getting known, and that doesn’t happen by being one of a thousand applying in a faceless, personality-less, and energy-less way online.”
On the flip side of that, however, are those candidates who refuse to apply for jobs. Margolin has dealt with candidates who feel they can land a role simply by networking, a tactic that will definitely not work for everybody. “It’s hard to find opportunity if you are not fully trying,” he said. “Networking is great but it’s not something you can be solely reliant upon. If a job is a good fit for you, you have to due diligence and apply.”
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Image: Stuart Jenner