What advice would you give to a student or recent graduate who is struggling to land a job interview?
This stage of the job hunting process can be disheartening, but don’t allow it to destroy your confidence. Job hunting is fundamentally about figuring out what your target market wants and presenting yourself to them as a worthwhile hire; at its fundamental core, it’s all about selling yourself. Look at your application through the eyes of an employer and consider whether your cover letter and CV really reflects the type of employee they are looking for.
Having difficulties landing a job interview is a reality of entering the job market and, as the saying goes, applying for work is a full-time job in itself. But rather than seeing this as a hardship, view it as a challenge that you are willing to rise to. Perseverance and commitment are crucial.
What are the most common reasons for repeated rejection?
The most common reason why applicants experience repeated rejection is that they do not tailor their CV and cover letter to the specific opportunity they are applying for. Your grammar and presentation might be flawless but, if your application isn’t tailored to each individual job advert, you’re unlikely to ever receive a call back. The focus of your application should be on what you can offer an employer and it should succinctly respond to the specific requirements outlined in the job description – with concrete examples. Some people are simply unaware of the skills and achievements they actually have under their belt and how to effectively sell them in a cover letter, and a lot of job hunters make the mistake of summarising their entire work history without any particular relevance to the role at hand.
Another factor to consider is networking. If you feel like you’re getting nowhere in your job search it could be due to the fact that over 60% of jobs are not advertised publicly, and the ones that are advertised frequently end up going to well-connected applicants. Try to broaden your search beyond Google by attending events, volunteering, building a strong LinkedIn profile or taking on an internship. Be open to meeting new people and connecting. Employers have to wade through hundreds of online applications for a single role, and sometimes the best way to capture their interest is by getting your name out there. You could even try introducing yourself to a potential employer; they’re usually happy to answer phone enquiries, and a call can help you to stand out in their memory.
How can the student or graduate maintain a positive attitude towards their job search?
The best way to maintain a positive attitude towards your job search is by adopting a growth mind set. Searching for work is a crossroads in life which offers you a unique opportunity to devote your time to skill building and planning the direction you want to take in your career.
While it can feel tough at times, competing on the job market inevitably builds tenacity and resilience. This will make you more able to withstand the competitive aspects of job hunting in the future.
There’s a huge amount of guidance out there for job seekers, and a visit to your university’s careers service or a quick internet search can yield a lot of advice and tips on how to improve your prospects. You should also keep yourself active and engaged by focusing on skill building in other areas of life; download apps to learn new languages, volunteer in your community and commit yourself to activities or sports. This is where you can really take control of your future, so make it count!
How should the student or graduate approach the employer when responding to the rejection (e.g. when requesting feedback)?
Politely thanking them for taking the time to check your application via email, and asking that they keep you on record for any future opportunities, can come across in a very positive light to employers. If your application was seriously considered for an interview, who knows – you might even receive a call back in the future.
There are no guarantees that employers will respond to requests for feedback, and some employers specifically mention that they are unable to offer any comments due to the overwhelming amount of applications they receive. Still, it’s worth requesting some feedback anyway if you felt like your application was particularly strong. Just remember to keep it professional, brief, positive and – most importantly – grateful.