What’s Wrong With Your Job Hunt? Diagnosing an Unproductive Search


Why can’t you land a job? If you’ve been son the hunt for a job for longer than you'd like, you may be asking yourself that question. First, be aware that the average job search takes about five months, so a multi-month quest isn’t unusual. But if you’re getting minimal response to your communications with employers, it may be time to identify flaws in your search process. Are you guilty of any of the following?

Why You Aren't Invited to Interviews

If you never get past the application process, it could be due to the fact that most of your job search time is spent applying online. Your job search should, of course, include applying for jobs online, including using field-specific job boards like BioSpace. Another effective job search technique is networking. A large portion of jobs are never advertised, so the only way to learn about them is to be in contact with organizational insiders. Additionally, remember that informational interviews are a subset of networking.

Read more: Guide to Networking in the Life Science Industry

Your Job Search Isn't Targeted 

Instead of applying randomly to jobs online, plan your job search so you are targeting 25-40 employers that you would love to work for and that you have determined via research to be excellent fits for your skills and experience. Once you have identified your target organizations, you can deploy your network to check on openings at these firms.

Read more: Benefits of a Targeted Job Search and How to Get Started

Your Resume and Cover Letter Need Work

The list of factors that could be off-base in your resume and cover letter is long and highly subjective. Common issues include faulty writing mechanics (typos, incorrect grammar), the appearance of job-hopping, employment gaps, listing duties and responsibilities instead of accomplishments and results, eschewing the use of active language, neglecting to customize your resume to the employer and failing to include a cover letter. You’ll find a nearly endless amount of resume advice online, including here on BioSpace, but if you lack confidence in your ability to create stellar materials, consider investing in professional resume writing services.

You Didn't Follow Instructions

Most employers indicate how they want to receive applications, including their preferred file format and mode of submission (options include email, via job board posting, submitted to the employer’s career site). Be sure you follow directions, as this is a common mistake. Make sure to read and re-read all directions before you submit any materials. 

Your Social Media is Unprofessional

Keep your social media profiles free of controversy. Avoid nudity, profanity and depictions of debauchery, as well as political and religious views. Put yourself in full professional candidate mode in prepping your profiles for your search and present yourself as a serious-but-enthusiastic contributor who will not embarrass your next employer.

Read more: Your Online Presence as a Professional

Why You Aren't Receiving an Offer

If you've been invited to interviews but haven't received an offer, the problem may lie in one of the later stages of your job search. Read on to find out why you haven't received a job offer and what you can do about it. 

Your Interview Performance is Weak

As with resumes and cover letters, a candidate’s interview performance encompasses many subjectively viewed components, such as inappropriate attire or poor grooming; nonverbal issues, such as weak handshake or lack of eye contact; failure to truly answer the questions; failure to ask questions; lack of enthusiasm; low confidence level; lack of knowledge about the employer; or failure to understand the employer’s needs.

Read more: Conducting a Post-Interview Self Evaluation.

You didn’t follow up 

It’s common courtesy to send a thank-you after an interview. Failing to do so is usually not a dealbreaker, but follow-up is often a plus, especially for sales positions, where a demonstration of persistence pays off. You can also lose an offer by failing to execute a follow-up task you committed to in the interview, such as supplying references or writing samples.

Read more: Following Up After a Life Sciences Job Interview

You Chose the Wrong References

Vet your references well to avoid surprises; your list should include only those who will speak enthusiastically on your behalf. Make sure you include past managers or supervisors instead of personal connections or friends. This will send a more positive message about your professional performance. 

You Asked for Too Much Money

In an ideal world, talk of salary would not have come up before an offer was tendered to you, but it’s quite possible you were asked your salary requirements in the interview, and the employer found you too expensive. Learn the art of salary negotiation to avoid being eliminated before even receiving an offer.

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