The job search is more complex than it appears.
You know you are a talented professional with a valuable skill set and several years of strong experience behind you. And yet, despite hunting for vacancies every day and tweaking your CV and cover letter for a range of applications, you find yourself without a job offer.
Don't worry ‒ it's not that you're unemployable. It's simply that the job-search process is difficult to navigate. And the reason isn't simply because you need to tailor your CV to every job opportunity (although that's true). It's a complex blend of hiring practices, recruitment standards and access to vacancies.
Millions of people across the UK are experiencing the same job-search frustrations. To help you better understand what you're up against, we've listed the reasons why it's so hard to find a job ‒ and the steps you can take to improve your success rate.
Why is it so hard to find a job?
Job openings may be misleading
If you see a vacancy ‒ whether on a job board, LinkedIn or elsewhere ‒ it's natural to assume that this position is open. And it is, but there's a catch (or two).
Sometimes companies put up a job advertisement to collate a pool of CVs that they can draw on at a later date when they are ready to 'officially' start hiring. It's a method of future-proofing the recruitment drive so that when they do really need another pair of hands on board, they can turn to their little black book of fresh talent.
That's not all. More often than not, especially for larger businesses, job opportunities are not exclusively for external applicants. Many companies choose to open up the positions to current staff. This puts you at a disadvantage because making an internal hire is more cost-effective for businesses, as the worker will already know the company inside out.
Companies are very selective
Another reason it's tricky to find a job is that companies today are incredibly picky, especially if it's the start of a hiring sprint.
Many employers are looking for 'the perfect candidate' in the early stages of a recruitment drive, as businesses are poised with determination to find the candidate of their dreams.
The truth is, all good employers should be looking for candidates who are a good fit, not perfect. This is especially because most job seekers today are not looking for a role that they can slot into like a puzzle piece for the rest of time. Instead, they want an opportunity that they can grow into and make their own. So that 'perfect fit' wouldn't last long.
Despite this, companies are highly selective, and to break through that wall, you need to fight to prove your value from the off.
CV standards are exceptionally high and precise
Unfortunately, it's not enough to submit that one CV that you recently updated with all your latest achievements. You have to tweak and tailor your CV so that it showcases the types of skills and experiences to fit each job opening. After all, every prospective employer will have different expectations.
And it doesn't stop there. You have to format your CV to the appropriate length and style. You must also quantify your achievements with tangible metrics that demonstrate your competency. And you must use the right language to grab the recruiter's attention.
It goes on. There is also the applicant tracking system (ATS) to contend with. An ATS is a tool used by 98 per cent of large organisations to sort through applications. The software scans CVs for certain keywords and phrases related to the job opening and sorts the wheat from the chaff. What does this mean for you? Seventy-five per cent of CVs are never seen by a real person.
Therefore, it's not enough to write a good CV. You need to tailor it for both human and bot in order to make the cut ‒ and that's a tall order.
An interview is only the beginning
Once your CV is over the line and you make it to screening interview call, by all means, celebrate. But your journey has only just begun. The reality is, on average 250 candidates apply for each vacancy, and only 25 per cent make it past the ATS. From that, 10 are selected for a screening call and then only four or five meet with the employer for a face-to-face interview. Two or three may impress and proceed to pass several interview rounds. Then, of course, there can only be one offer.
It takes a lot of work to narrow down the pool of candidates to one, and the process can spread several weeks or months. And you'll need to impress every step of the way if you want to land the job.
How to improve your chances of landing a job
Finding a job doesn't have to be a challenging experience, and thankfully, there are many things you can do to improve your chances of job-search success. Here are a few tactics to bear in mind:
Apply for the right jobs
It can be tempting to apply for any job that looks vaguely relevant to your aspirations and experience, but you should spend your time more wisely. Choose the jobs that truly match your skill set, experience and goals.
Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to job applications. And whilst reading through a job description thoroughly, extracting keywords and customising your CV is time-intensive, this level of personalisation will stand a stronger chance of impressing recruiters than a generalised CV that cuts corners.
Put the effort into fewer applications that are more likely to get results.
Write an impressive CV
Your CV is your ticket to passing the ATS gateway and getting your name in front of a recruiter's eyes. You could be the most talented professional and a great fit for the job, but if your CV isn't ATS-friendly or doesn't highlight the right parts of your experience and abilities, your application is likely to fall into the abyss known as the CV black hole.
At TopCV, we know all the tricks of the trade to help you write a CV that's spot on. From carefully listing achievements and awards to correct formatting, our advice is there to support you through every stage of your application.
However, if you're struggling, it's OK to ask for CV help. Expert CV writers are there on standby to make your CV as good as it can be while you focus on other aspects of your job hunt.
Network with like-minded professionals
It's true what they say: It's about who you know, not what you know. If a company is looking to hire from within, you are limited in what you can do. But if you can get your foot in the door through networking, at least you won't be a complete stranger.
Networking can also help you access what's known as the 'hidden jobs market'. These are the jobs that are open but not advertised, and research suggests that around 70 per cent of vacancies aren't made public. Adding that to the fact that 85 per cent of open positions are filled through networking, investing in some occasional small talk with industry professionals seems like a no brainer.
Use LinkedIn during the job search to interact with others in your field. You can also use Twitter during the job search to tweet your way into your next role. Post regularly and engage with other people's comments and thoughts to make a positive impact. Don't be afraid to reach out and make new connections, either.
It's important to stay active with your networking in the long term. Whilst these connections could help you with your job search eventually, you don't want to make these people feel like you're using them just when the time comes. So ensure you keep the conversations regular, genuine and meaningful until the right opportunity presents itself.
Finding a job is tough, and believe us when we say there's a lot you're up against. But this job hunt experience doesn't need to be an excruciating one.
By thinking smartly, keeping your finger on the pulse, and using the tools and resources around you, you'll secure your dream job sooner than you think. And the whole experience will be less painful along the way.
One way to make your job search easier is to work with a professional CV writer. Learn more here.