12 Reasons You’re Not Getting Hired

By Maddie Lloyd - Mar. 16, 2021

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You’re landing interviews left and right, but you never actually get the job. Maybe the companies go with candidates who are “a better fit,” or maybe you just don’t hear back at all. It’s one of the most frustrating situations you can find yourself in.

You may ask yourself a stream of self-deprecating questions — Is everyone better than me? Am I the worst interviewee ever? Why am I not getting hired? Keep reading to figure out what’s keeping you from getting jobs, and even better — how to fix it!

1You’re Boring

It’s pretty common for hiring managers to schedule multiple interviews in one day, so it’s important to take the extra effort to make yourself stand out. Even if you have all the necessary qualifications, you’ll have a hard time getting a job offer if the interviewer doesn’t even remember who you are.

The ideal candidate has strong qualifications and comes off as friendly and personable. The best way to fix this problem is simply to practice. Ask a friend to meet you for coffee (and offer to pay, you jerk — they’re doing you a favor) and practice your responses.

It might be a good idea to ask your most cynical or straightforward friend to help you practice. That way, you can be sure that they’ll give you honest feedback and if you still seem boring.

2You Have Poor Interview Skills

Just as some people are super smart but poor test-takers, some people choke during interviews. Maybe you have all the necessary credentials, but when you actually sit down for an interview, everything that comes out of your mouth is an endless stream of word vomit.

You can address this issue by taking time before the interview to study up on the most common interview questions and prepare your answers. Ask yourself if there’s a particular moment or question that comes up during an interview that always throws you off.

Maybe you’re never sure what to say are your greatest strengths, or you don’t know what to say when asked how you handle stress. Figure out which parts of the interview make you feel stumped and spend extra time preparing and rehearsing your answers.

3You Come Off as Desperate

Sometimes you just have to reel it in. In some cases, honesty isn’t the best policy — there’s really no need to gush about how this is your dream job, or complain about how much you hate your current job and would do anything to leave.

If you make it seem like the interviewer would be doing you a huge favor by hiring you, they’ll probably go with someone who seems less desperate and more willing to benefit the company rather than themselves.

Instead, talk about what interested you about the company and how they would benefit from hiring you. For everything you mention about why you like the company, be sure to mention one way that you would be able to help them grow or succeed in that area.

If you just sit around waiting for the perfect job to fall into your lap, you’re going to be waiting around a long time. Successful job seekers know that they have to be active and strategic in their job search to land interviews and get offers.

If you don’t have all the necessary skills for your dream job, find an online course to develop your skillset. If you don’t have many connections in your field, attend industry events and network with other people in your field.

If you’re proactive in your job search and take steps to grow your skill set and make connections in your field to achieve your career goals, you’re more likely to be successful. If you sit around having a pity party about your inability to find a job, that party isn’t likely to end soon.

5You’re Not Selling Yourself Well Enough

If there was ever a time to sell yourself, it’s during a job search. You’re selling yourself short by not showing off all of your qualifications.

Share your skills and accomplishments with confidence, but make sure not to brag. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, so make sure to always be humble. Coming off as a jerk won’t get you very far, and no one wants to listen to someone humblebrag.

6Your Resume Doesn’t Show Your True Value

Your resume is the first impression you make on employers, and ideally, it’s what gets your foot in the door — but if it doesn’t show off how perfect you are for the job, you’ll never get a chance to impress employers.

A successful resume should do the following:

  • Be an appropriate length for your experience and qualifications

  • List relevant skills and work history

  • Reflect the needs of the job you’re applying for

  • Show how you can benefit the company

Your resume should be specific. Don’t be afraid to quantify your accomplishments. For example, you could mention that you raised $150k in funding for your previous company — but only if you actually did. Don’t lie on your resume. That’s a bad idea.

7You’re Not Customizing Your Cover Letter

It’s not a bad idea to apply to different companies to boost your chances of getting a call, but if the quality of your application materials is suffering as a result, then it’s not worth it.

When you send a copy/pasted cover letter to 20+ recruiters and hiring managers at once, they’ll know that you’re not all that interested in working for them specifically.

Instead, take the time to customize each and every cover letter that you write. While your resume can often be edited for a particular job with a few low-effort keyword changes, a good cover letter should be written from scratch each time.

Remember to emphasize why you’re enthusiastic about the job opportunity, explain why your particular background makes you a perfect fit for the position, and relate your personal values to the company’s mission. You want the reader to see you as a person who could fit into the company’s culture and the culture of your team immediately.

8You Lack References

Having references helps the recruiter or hiring manager verify your proclaimed skills and experiences. It doesn’t matter if your resume and cover letter are perfect and you nail the interview — if the employer can’t contact anyone who will vouch for your professional history, they’re likely to feel uneasy about hiring you.

On the other hand, you might have references, but not the right ones. To rectify this situation, you should contact people who you’ve worked with in the past that would be willing to speak positively about you to potential employers. These people don’t necessarily need to be former supervisors (although that is usually best).

You can also ask former coworkers, professors, individuals you’ve volunteered with/for, or people you’ve done contract work for.

Once you start applying for jobs, be sure to notify your references that they can expect hiring managers to reach out to them. If you can, keep them abreast of the different job opportunities. That way, they can speak to the most relevant and impressive parts of their experience with you.

9You’re Not Networking

Career fairs, conferences, and other networking events are great for finding opportunities in your industry and field. But there are more low-key ways to find job openings.

Contacting former coworkers you were close with, a professor you had a connection with, or even family and friends that work in tangential industries all might yield surprising job opportunities — possibly some that aren’t even listed on job websites yet.

Additionally, a lot of companies these days have referral programs. That means that current employees are actually paid to refer a candidate that the company hires (and that employee sticks around, if you’re thinking up an elaborate scam right now).

It’s a serious incentive for employees, and if you know one of these people, even a little bit, it can’t hurt to ask for a referral.

The chances of landing a job you’ve been referred for is much higher than sending in a cold application. Plus, you can name-drop the person referring you in your cover letter and at the interview.

10You Haven’t Researched the Job or Company

There’s no better way to make yourself look totally unprepared than showing up to an interview with no knowledge of the company or what the job entails.

To avoid looking like a lazy doof, take some time before the interview to do some research on the company. Before you start trying to memorize various Wikipedia articles, you don’t have to know the entire detailed history of every company you interview with.

Just try to have a general sense of knowledge on why the company was founded, what their mission is, and their target demographic. We all know that studying sucks, but it’ll help you out in the long run.

11You Come Off as an Entitled Jerk

For the love of all that is holy, please don’t feed into the stereotype that millennials are entitled. You’re just making it harder for the rest of us.

Don’t go into interviews with a list of demands regarding your salary or vacation time. Sure, these things are important and need to be discussed, but you should only mention them when asked or if you’re offered the job.

12You’re Overqualified or Underqualified for the Jobs You’re Applying For

This one can be a huge issue for people who are always on the hunt for a job. Maybe you’re consistently applying for your dream job even though you don’t have the required qualifications, or you’re desperate for any job possible that you’re willing to take anything, even if it’s well below your level of experience.

Ask yourself if you’re aiming too high or low. Expectation is the root of disappointment, so make sure to adjust yours accordingly.

13Your Lack of Passion Is Showing

If you apply for positions that don’t interest you just because you’re desperate and need money, it’s probably going to show during interviews. Skills can be learned, but employers can’t teach you to give a hoot if you just don’t care.

If you actually are excited about a job, try to put your cool apathetic attitude aside and show that you’re interested during the interview. Talk about why you want the job, and share ideas and projects you would want to work on if you get the job.

14You’re Just Not Very Likable

Even if you’re the most qualified person for the job, you won’t get hired if your interviewer just straight up doesn’t like you. To make the best impression possible you should:

  • Smile often, and when appropriate — if the interviewer tells you part of the job is going to be delivering bad news to people, don’t laugh and say “nice!”

  • Be a good listener and don’t interrupt or dominate the conversation.

  • Ask thoughtful questions.

  • Don’t brag about how awesome you are.

  • Be expressive and use open body language, but remember to be appropriate — no crossed arms or downcast eyes

15You’re Giving Off the Wrong Impression

During your interview, you should do everything you can to impress employers. Doing any of these could leave a bad impression on interviewers:

  • Arriving late. This is a great way to make employers not like you immediately! If you really don’t want to get hired at all, then you should totally arrive late.

  • Dressing inappropriately. No belly button rings or cargo pants, please.

  • Being too sarcastic. Yes, sarcasm is one of the great joys of life, but this just isn’t the time.

  • Asking about salary at an inappropriate time. Save it for when the employer brings it up.

  • Not showing any personality. Remember, you won’t get a job if the interviewer doesn’t even remember who you are.

  • Being bored or disinterested. If you’re going to act like this, you should save everyone some time and just not go to the interview at all.

16You’re Not Following Up

Companies want to hire a candidate who expresses enthusiasm for the role from start to finish. That means you aren’t quite done once you leave the interview room.

You need to send a thank-you email that shows how grateful you are for the opportunity and how much you enjoyed speaking with your interviewer.

Open with gratitude, briefly mention a unique and positive moment from the interview, express enthusiasm, and reiterate how well your qualifications align with the role.

Keep this message short and to the point — its most important functions are reminding the interviewer who you are and making you seem like a polished professional/considerate adult.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been looking for a job for what feels like forever, it would probably be helpful to take a step back and try to figure out what you’re doing wrong.

It can be hard to admit that we’re not trying our hardest, but if you don’t want to spend the rest of your life on your parents’ couch, it’s in your best interest to address what’s keeping you from getting hired.

Now that you know why no one’s hired you yet, get off the couch, wash your hair, and get out there and impress some employers!

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Maddie Lloyd

Maddie Lloyd was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog focused on researching tips for interview, resume, and cover letter preparation. She's currently a graduate student at North Carolina State University's department of English concentrating in Film and Media Studies.

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