Adapted from my answer posted on Quora.
Here’s a question I found quite interesting because I, along with countless others, have been in the same situation:
Why won’t anyone hire me? I’ve applied to over 30 jobs and have not had any luck. Am I doing something wrong, or is this normal?
It can be very frustrating, but it is quite normal.
That being said, there are a couple of thing you can do to improve your odds of being noticed by recruiters and hiring managers.
I’ve included a couple of links to videos by Ramit Sethi that I hope you will find helpful.
The first one will give you some ideas on how you can improve your CV/resume, while the second will show you the value of doing your research and how you can walk in to an interview, fully prepared to capture the attention of your interviewers.
I’d like to add some of my own tips:
- Always reframe your cover letter in terms of how you can provide value to their company. Remember, companies aren’t interested in you—they’re interested in themselves, so you need to show them how you can fulfil their needs. This applies to answering interview questions too!
- None of that “Dear Hiring Manager” nonsense in your cover letters. Always address your letter with the name of the recruiter or hiring manager. If you don’t know their name, call them up and find out. I cannot stress this enough. This also gives you the added advantage of standing out!
- After you’ve made your application, wait a couple of days, and then follow up on your application with a phone call to the company. This demonstrates your level of interest and effort.
I’d like to add a little more to this answer for your benefit.
What to do if you have no prior job experience?
“I need to find a job, but it requires experience. How do I get experience, without having a job?”
Sound familiar? It’s quite the catch-22 isn’t it?
There is a way to get around this though, and here are some of my recommendations:
Highlight your standout achievements
Not easy for everyone, but if you have any, you can use these in place of job experience. It helps employers see you as an achiever.
For example, if you’ve done well outside of academics, you can highlight your role as the secretary of a university society and include your achievements while serving on the board of directors.
Include your portfolio
If you’ve done anything at all that could be showcased using a portfolio, please jump on the opportunity. To be frank, it’s probably more important than almost anything else that you can put on your CV or resume, simply because it shows exactly what you are capable of.
It’s one thing to list things down, but if employers can see how you’ve demonstrated your work, it can go a long way. This is especially great if you’ve done something like computer science or something creative, but it could work for almost anything: academic writing, journals or publications, a blog, your personal website etc.
Work for free
If you can afford to sustain yourself, this can be an extremely good option to get some experience to put on your CV. Working for free is also an opportunity to build a network, learn the trade and also gives you some great talking points during an interview.
If you have any suggestions or ideas, please feel free to share them in the comments below!