5 Reasons You’re Still Unemployed

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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.”

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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

19 Responses to “5 Reasons You’re Still Unemployed”

  1. Oh, for the love of _____. “Don’t sit home mindlessly filling out applications, but don’t think you’ll get a job by not applying.” “Cover letters are important, but don’t cram in too much detail. Don’t spend an inordinate amount of time tailoring them to the company your applying for because that comes off as creepy, but do take the time to tailor it to each job you’re applying for.”

    And you forgot to include easy things like failure to pass criminal or credit background checks, personality, increasingly slovenly appearance or lack of transportation that comes with the poverty of unemployment, failure to keep up with industry trends because you are outside the industry looking in for 2-7 years, lack of an online presence or portfolio, or disturbing or embarrassing information easily found by googling your name.

  2. Joe Johnson

    5 Reasons dice articles like this article sucks

    1. Vague
    “some cities and counties simply don’t need tech workers with particular sets of skills”
    Hey dice maybe you should find out what cities and counties need tech skills and what those skills are. That would be helpful to your audience.

    2. Contradiction
    Often times in Dice articles you contradict yourself sometimes in the same paragraph or sentence.
    For example you wrote:
    “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.”
    Then in the sentence you say
    “But that doesn’t mean an experienced tech pro should downgrade career expectations once he or she loses a job”
    But if you take the advise in the first sentence that’s exactly what you’d being doing.

    3. You’re Focused on the Past and other dumb headlines
    What in he Hell do you think a resume is. It is your past experience.

    4. Blame the Candidate
    Most of the advice you give is in the form of preaching to the audience as if they are children. I don’t need you preach to me and give me vague and piss poor advice, I need action items, like your article on how to ace a technical interview and even in that article it would be nice if you could tell your audience what companies are using these types of interviewing techniques.

    Also stop trying to minimize the difficulty of finding a job if you are a certain age, ethnicity or disability there are studies on top of studies that prove is discrimination against people in these categories. The biggest is discrimination against the long term unemployed. Dice should come out with in depth articles on how to translate your old skills into skills employer(s) are willing to hire you for.

    5. Corporate shrill
    This article seem to come from the PR department of corporations who want to spin the truth on why they are not hiring American Technologist. They want those cheap h1b visa(s) who don’t have to go through an arduous interviewing process. When Dice does an article on corporation are to exclude hiring American worker(s) than that will make Dice a reliable news and advise source of tech information.

    • Totally agree on 5. Back in 2011 while looking for job, 10 out of 10 interviews with managers from h1b country resulted in “you do not qualify”, note that 5 of the jobs were for systems I helped developed: later I found 2 of the jobs I interviewed for were filled by ppl don’t know what is Group By.
      Last June, a guy at work was forced to leave by his boss (from you know where) because he complained this situation on Dice and Linkedin.
      You tell me discrimination does not exist? Or I showed in my body language so that I failed the interview? People writing articles based on others so-called expert or HR director, they don’t go out try to get an IT job themselves, what do they know about and can give advice on how to get a job?

      The current job market for IT is: it’s not what you know, it’s where you’re from.

  3. There is no way to compete on price… if management has taken a decision
    to get the work “done” offshore, you’re out. Forget about loyalty or IT knowledge.

    Two years ago I applied for a volunteer position in the North-East and did not get even a “thank you” note…
    Is this the improving job market? OK, I have a job now, however it doesn’t explain the no “thanks” response for… offering IT skills for free.

  4. The title of this article should’ve read “5 reasons out of hundreds of other reasons you are still unemployed”.
    All of the observations in the article are accurate, if contradictory, but so are factors in any complex system with million things affecting any part of job market at any given time e.g. supply/demand, outsourcing, current tech fads, economy outlook, etc, etc, etc.
    So, taken with a grain of salt, this article will be a good addition to one’s job hunting toolkit.

  5. This country has been invaded by Indian IT workers and perhaps a couple of other countries. We are allowing H1-B and L1 visas and we cannot seem to be able to change that!!! That’s the problem caused by business and immigration law lobbies!!! PERIOD. IT NEEDS TO STOP!!!

  6. I have been an IT professional for over 25 years. I have business analyst skills and FDA level validation skills. For over 18 years I’ve designed and develop MS Access database applications. I use to work with C++ now VBA with what ever is required where there’s a will there’s a way. If I don’t know it I can learn it. I also work well with user and provide training and technical documentation. As an independent contractor the problem is finding companies needing my skills or companies finding me that will benefit from my years of experience. It may not be cutting edge, I am not trying to be cutting edge. I have proven skills with a solid background in IT. To find work on websites, such a Dice among others, based on resume with millions of other job seekers is so unpersonalized, in some cases is just luck. This is my life this is my living it should not be so unpersonalized. I answer many recruiting emails that are supposedly reaching out to me because of my skills. They often want way too much and seems beyond belief. It is often more than what I have and sounds as though they need three people not one. If I see something that is a close fit I send my resume. I will pick up the phone and call then get no response back. I don’t care for this fishing routine it is devaluing and has become a waste of time for job seekers like me. I prefer to pick up the phone and find out more about what the recruiter is looking for and try and learn as much as I can, about the job. It is hard to know what works I know what does not work. Dice perhaps IT people need to know what is no longer in favor and about forward moving companies. I am not interested in lazy, negative companies that are not realistic about what is required and it shows in many recruiters they hire. I am an asset to a company they should want to hire me, but I am not finding an affective way to let the right companies know, I exist.

  7. How simplistic: “…. 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.”

    And how are people are supposed to do that? How can I reach that hiring manager, or the potential supervisor of the company I would like to join? I dare this writer to show up at a company without an appointment, and see security show him out the door for trespassing.

    I am tired of these HR executives with these inane articles, and yet they do exactly the opposite of what they convey in them. Is like they are distracting the unemployed into a sense of hope when there is non, because jobs are going to inexperienced, but cheaper, workers or are off-shored.

  8. Number 1 reason: I’m too old
    Number 2 reason: I got pigeon holed in the job I held for over 25 years. They needed it done, I was good at it. Shame on me for being so foolish (and unselfish; thought the company would appreciate my efforts — fat chance).

    Game, set, match.
    I’m retired now. Might do a short term contracting gig if I can find one.
    Else, I’m not in too bad a shape. Time to move on. Your employer, if you have one, could care less about your “career” or how you do. It’s all about the CEO and management. Imagine a different life for yourself than chasing these tech gigs.

  9. 1. Failure to show up on time — always be 5-10 mins. early. There CAN BE NO EXCUSE for showing up late. None.
    2. Terse answers to your interviewers’ questions. Please elaborate — show that you’ve mastered the English language.
    3. Saying “I” all the time ir “we” all the time in your answers; mix it up my friends.
    4. Rambling on for five minutes to a question. Boring. Next!
    5. Dressing way down (jeans and tshirt) or far to high (suit with bow tie and cufflinks) for the role.