5 Reasons You’re Not Getting Jobs (and What to Do About It)

In theory, tech’s notably low unemployment rate (2.6 percent) should give job hunters plenty of opportunities to land interviews, offers, and high starting salaries. But what if you’re having trouble finding a position that fits your skills, experience, and desires?

Don’t give up! Here are five things that may be working against you—and some ways to overcome the hurdles of hunting for tech jobs in a red-hot market.

A Broken Recruiting Process?

Candidates are looking for jobs, but employers can’t seem to find them. Something is obviously out of whack. But what? Blame it on a broken recruiting process, says Ben Sesser, CEO and co-founder of recruitment software firm BrightHire.

When recruiters are inexperienced or lack training, they struggle to look a résumé and decide whether the candidate’s skills, knowledge and experience make them a good fit for a role and culture.

If an evaluator can’t immediately see how you’ve used your skills to drive results or is left to conjecture about your values and objectives, they are going to gravitate toward candidates who look like a match on paper.

How can you fix a broken recruiting process from the outside? Connect the dots for the evaluator. In your résumé and job interviews, explain in detail how your technical and soft skills, achievements, interests and values are related to the role, Sesser said. Even better, call the recruiter or hiring manager after applying to explain why you’re interested in working for the company and what you hope to achieve.

Job Title Discrepancies

If your current job title, level or tenure doesn’t appear to match the job, your résumé may fall into the dreaded black hole, explained Pete Radloff, senior technical leadership recruiter for a FAANG company. To pass the so-called 10-second résumé test, see how your current level and tenure compares to the positions at your target company (you can use a tool such as levels.fyi). Then, modify your job title to match your qualifications and the position you’re applying to—but remember to cover your bases by putting your actual job title in parentheses.

To paint a complete picture, you can also include additional titles in parentheses to emphasize other relevant duties and abilities.

Appearing to be “Non-Promotable”

You feel confident because you are technically strong and can perform all of the tasks specifically outlined in the job description. The problem is that you can’t seem to turn interviews into offers, at least not so far.

What’s wrong? Most hiring managers aren’t just looking for someone who can do the job today—they want someone who can grow and take on leadership duties in the future, even if it’s a de facto leadership position. 

To increase your chances of landing an offer, portray yourself as someone who is capable of leading and taking on more, Radloff advised. During the job interview, for example, don’t just talk about the tools you used to complete a project, but describe how you reached decisions and built consensus within the organization.

Think of it from the employer’s perspective: They want to hire someone who believes strongly in the company’s mission and is capable of contributing to its culture and future success, Sesser said: “The secret to landing an offer is to show that you not only understand the culture but are capable of adding to it or enhancing it.”

A Bad Candidate Experience

Have you been ghosted after submitting an application or participating in an interview? You’re not alone.

Not every company respects candidates or is committed to providing them with transparent, timely communication throughout the hiring process. In a nutshell, unless you target companies that clearly outline their hiring process, criteria and timeline, list contact information for recruiters, and commit to providing updates and an explanation for unfavorable decisions, you could be left hanging or wondering what you need to do to improve.

You can get a sense for how you’ll be treated by comparing the information on the company’s career page and job postings to this list of ingredients for a positive candidate experience.

Unconscious Bias

If you aren’t getting bites despite applying to jobs you’re qualified for, and diligently executing important basics like networking, following-up and building a strong online presence, you may be the victim of unconscious bias. According to a  survey by WerkLabs, 95 percent of workers over 40 say they have tried to physically hide or mask their appearance in interviews, out of fear of being discriminated against because of their age.

In addition to seeking out diverse work environments where age is less of a potential factor, take the time to remove graduation dates, outdated technologies and jobs from over 10 years ago from your résumé and social media profiles. Select a flattering, age-neutral profile image and be ready to tout your vast experiences as a valuable asset, especially during interviews.

28 Responses to “5 Reasons You’re Not Getting Jobs (and What to Do About It)”

  1. Could it have anything to do with the Democrats AND establishment Republicans flooding the market with 1.5 – 2 million cheap H1-B,OPT, L-1 Visa indentured servants/slave workers who have no student loans to pay and work for peanuts ?

    • Lawrenc Weinzimer

      They have open arms for those future hires, who they’ve already stenciled in, just because they ‘know’ somebody (example: a phoney-ass cousin of theirs). Competence, meritocracy and code of conduct proscriptions take a flying leap because of the above sorts. Oh, and those types will much easier be brushed-off or outright
      be forgiven, when errors and misfeasances / malfeasances occur, or will much more readily be expunged and quashed, by the firm.

  2. The panel interview with multiple interviewers blocking there videos could be unnerving! It’s very daunting if you can’t see the reaction of the other person(s) during an interview; which suppose to be a two-way communication process.

  3. The only people who get the best jobs in America are White men… unless a company has adopted affirmative action, and then the best jobs go to African Americans, who, I might add, are NOT the only people of color – but corporate America seems to forget that in the hiring process. The people who are not getting jobs are White women over the age of 40.

  4. jeanette rouse

    How about they only want entry level and paying below that salary. That is happening in the Mid-Atlantic. I have had the interview, been ghosted, told they hired the other candidate or, they closed the position. They obviously need people but they aren’t really hiring since I see the same position reposted weeks or months later.

    • I believe the same thing has happened to quite a few of us. I hear your frustration it’s just happening more frequently. You know when they send the email with “Thank you” means you didn’t get the job…lol. I know what you mean when you see the same position open again. But you have to think maybe it’s not that great afterall. Maybe the person who got hired didn’t like the management or company and that’s why the position is open again. To me when I see the same position open again from the same company I applied to a few months back, makes me think that perhaps it’s either management or company culture that ran off the new hire. I think sometimes we just have to be thankful for not getting hired with certain companies. You just never know if the company is very toxic place to work for. Now I know to always look at reviews of companies before I apply to them. Best of luck to you in the new year.

  5. when you walk into the interview (or, these days, start the Zoom call) and you are the only person with 4 grandparents born in the USA, you know 100% that you are not getting the job

    • Funny you mention that because we both have the same name and I have that problem as well. I have 20yrs experience in the IT industry and still can’t seem to get a Systems Administrator job. Absolutely unfair to me when the younger ones are getting those positions.

  6. Age discrimination in IT is rampant…I get the told the position no longer exists, yet it’s still plainly visible on a site like Indeed or the company’s career web site.

    IF I find the right hiring manager, one that realizes she/he won’t have to babysit me or only give me the “fun” tasks/projects, then I have a chance.

    I think this leads to a lot of wasted IT talent in this country.

    • It is even harder for a woman in the IT Field. I have been in the IT industry for 30 years. Was just given the boot from a company after 20 years a week before I turned 50. I have been on several interviews but I think it is the age (and being a woman) that I am just not getting the jobs. I am even taking a paycut and still no bites

  7. I think it’s generally that recruiters are often bad at their jobs and poorly incentivized. The recruiting process isn’t built to work in a market that labor is harder to find. It barely worked before.

    Look at the construct: a recruiter gets handed a job and a budget. Is that budget even reasonable? Maybe not.

    Let’s look at the bs buzzwords that recruiters are using to filter resumes. Look at the actual resume.

    Let’s look at the absolutely horrible talent management systems out there. If I see workday or taleo I just don’t even apply. I’m not going to paste in every line of my resume to a machine that will get filtered into oblivion. No.

  8. Just Saying

    Be encouraged to change and evolve as a professional…Be positive and enough of self pitty! There’s a really good job waiting for you out there…you just need to look a little more! Best of luck for everybody!

    • I am positive. Have knocked every interview out of the park. Got passed on. One recruiter was present for the interview, they hired someone else with less experience. Another, they hired the other guy, he did not pass background.
      You can only get so many rejection before you start questioning what is going on.
      I applaud your optimism. The reality needs to be address here. When I see wages dropping substantially and experienced people need not apply…. Just sayin.

  9. “modify your job title to match your qualifications and the position you’re applying to”

    So basically transparently lie. The problem with the process as I have experienced it is foreign recruiters that are incompetent. They don’t Philadelphia from Phoenix and spam people because of a keyword. Then there is the tendency for jobs to be contract. Worse that all of this is that companies that use these fools and want contractors seem to think that’s the end all to hire people. There’s a list of disconnects here that start with the employer.

    • Know Philadelphia from Phoenix…And also offer better pay. We know you’re paying the recruiter what we make an hour, so why can’t you just hire directly? The answer could be you don’t value the work and position enough to do so. The pay needs to get real.

    • j rouse

      Yesterday I spoke with or had emails/voicemails from 4 recruiters. 2 were offshore companies, could not understand a word the guy said in the voicemail. 2, contacted me on positions hundreds of miles from home. The other 2 offer wages that were below what entry level paid 5 years ago. These jobs have wish list requirements, ENTRY LEVEL only. Ageism. With the shortage of qualified people, drop the wage they say. This article is blaming the employee. It must be our fault and not the paradigm of quota offshore call center hiring.

      • Job Hunter, Beware!

        Anyone looking for work can be easy prey for many fakes who claim to be employers. Some of them have very elaborative setups that deceive job hunters. Be very vigilant! If an employer demands your login information for your bank account, don’t hesitate to report that employer because i’s against the law for an employer to request such information. Also, when your employer demands your ID and Social Security number, you can find yourself the victim of a scam artist who will use the information in ways that you never dreamed were possible. Even giving your bank information for direct deposit is a risk; unless you can present some hard evidence that you are employed by a reputable company and can give credible information about the company, banks can and will close accounts of customers whose bank information gets into unscrupulous hands. Be very suspicious of so-called employers who deal only online especially through sites like Facebook; if the employer never even does a video chat with you, drop the employer right away! The pandemic has created all these frauds and a job hunter can be easy prey to all sorts of scams.