7 Reasons You are Still Unemployed

by Kevin on March 30, 2009

I work in the staffing industry and see a lot of resumes every single day. I talk to a bunch of folks looking for jobs whether they are unemployed or just looking for that next career move. Today I thought I would address unemployment as it has hit 10% in certain areas of the country (ouch!).

Seven Reasons You are Still Unemployed

  1. Your salary expectations are too high.
  2. Your personal network is underdeveloped.
  3. Your resume is too short/too long.
  4. You are waiting for the perfect job.
  5. You are applying to jobs you are unqualified for (the shotgun approach).
  6. You live in an economic disaster area.
  7. You get overly nervous during interviews.

1. Your salary expectations are too high.

I bet many of you would honestly be surprised how many people I speak with that have unrealistic pay expectations. Obviously firms pay differently for the same position. Some firms have great benefits, but don’t pay as much. Others are extremely stressful and thus pay a bit more.

The problem people run into is when they get laid off from a company that pays well above the market average. You’ll find someone making $75,000 that is only “worth” $50,000 in the market.  The bottom line is if your pay expectations are too high you need to adjust quickly to land that next job.

Also run the math on how much money you are missing out every week you go unemployed. Each week increases the amount you need to make once you do land a job. The faster you land employment the better.

2. Your personal network is underdeveloped.

This is a personal fault of mine. My personal network when I got out of college was not very strong. Then I moved cities which weakened it even further. To be completely honest when I moved here I know my fiancee (now wife) and maybe two other people that also happened to be her friends. My network was very weak.

Statistics show that about two-thirds of all people get a job through their network rather than through a job board or job posting. Two-thirds. That’s a lot of people.

Make an assessment of your network. Reach out to those old co-workers. Start going to local networking events. But keep the golden rule of networking handy: give first, get later. The more you help others the more your name will be out in your community and industry.

3. Your resume is too short/too long.

I’ve seen candidates with 15+ years of experience with a resume shorter than this bullet point. Seriously. Then again I’ve seen one resume that was 17 pages long.

Your resume shouldn’t be too short or too long. Like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, it should be just right. What is just right for your industry? I don’t know. Isn’t that helpful? We typically see resumes that are two to four pages long that contain a lot of detail to be just right. In others one page may be just fine. While you are developing your network you might ask around and see what others say.

4. You are waiting for the perfect job.

It isn’t out there. Trust me. There are some jobs that are great — great benefits, great pay, great environment, and a product you believe in to boot. But the people in those jobs aren’t leaving anytime soon.

This ties in with the salary expectations. Tone down your list of “must-haves” for a job. In this economy you simply can’t afford to wait.

5. You are applying to jobs you are unqualified for (the shotgun approach).

This is an utter waste of your precious job-hunting time. I’ve had retail cashier’s apply to be senior level managers. You are not only wasting your own time, you are wasting the time of the company as well whether it be staffing or internal HR. Doing this guarantees your resume goes straight into the trash. Don’t do it.

6. You live in an economic disaster area.

In some areas unemployment has hit 10%. There is simply no way around staying unemployed if your city is falling apart. I would not want to be unemployed in Detroit right now. I don’t know anything specifically about the area job market in Detroit, but with the big three laying off people left and right the local economy is in the tank.

Your best bet to get past this one might honestly be to move if you can afford to.

7. You get overly nervous during interviews.

Sweat forms on your forehead. Pit-stains mar your shirts. Your hands are clammy when you shake the interviewer’s hand. (Honestly there is nothing worse than this. Please pass me the hand sanitizer.)

It’s just an interview. Chill. Out. Count down from 10 if you have to. Take a deep breath. Yes this is really important. It could pull you from the ranks of the unemployed. That’s big news, right? Sure, but if you bomb the interview because you are so nervous about landing the job that isn’t going to help.

I always tell my candidates this: they wouldn’t be interviewing you if they didn’t think you could be a good fit for the job. Period. Managers are busy. Really, really busy. They are not going to waste their time interviewing unqualified candidates. So congrats — you’re qualified. Use that as a source of confidence (do not read as cockiness!) in the interview.

And good luck… you’re going to need it.

{ 5 trackbacks }

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Nate @ Debt-free Scholar March 30, 2009 at 7:30 am

If you are not good at writing it can be hard to write a good resume. Therefore, go to the library and get a book on resume writing.


happily unemployed March 30, 2009 at 9:52 am

You forgot reason #8:

You LIKE being unemployed because now is the best time in history to BE unemployed. Handouts, handouts, handouts!

George Snell March 30, 2009 at 10:39 am

Some good observations, but a lot of people remain unemployed because there are fewer jobs than people looking for them. It’s a simple math equation.

Stephanie PTY March 30, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Networking… definitely my trouble. I figured out what I really wanted to do really late in college (late senior year!) and hadn’t built up the contacts that I really need now. I’m really hoping to get an internship soon, so that I can build up contacts to get started.

Kevin April 2, 2009 at 8:44 am

@Nate: That’s true, but every industry is different. I would prefer to point people toward getting assistance from a mentor in their industry.

@happily unemployed: Hilarious, yet sadly true…

@George: Ehhh… I don’t buy that completely. If you are in one of those hard hit economic areas, then yes that makes sense. But most areas are not seeing 10%+ unemployment. Yes it has gone up a bit, but overall the jobs are still there. True some companies are holding off on hiring a few more months. But even when there are jobs you need to be able to stand out. Many folks simply aren’t doing that.

@Stephanie: That is my trouble, too. Or was. I’m working on it, but in college I completely ignored it and focused on my grades. Big. Mistake.

Four Pillars April 2, 2009 at 6:06 pm

Very good post – it’s good to hear tips from an ‘insider’.


Fabulously Broke April 6, 2009 at 8:32 am

That is a pretty concise list, except like happilyunemployed says, #8.

I’m not technically unemployed (own my own consulting business), but I am not on contract, and it’s kind of nice to get a break you know? But when the break goes into a year or two you start to worry 😛

Luckily I am at the 5 month mark…

Harrison April 8, 2009 at 7:54 am

For some people, they are just too lazy to get a job. They are lazy and do not take any actions to get a job. I saw these kind of people before.

Kevin April 13, 2009 at 11:04 am

@Four Pillars: Thanks for stopping by!

@Fabulously Broke: True… but wow, 5 months? Are you doing any side work?

@Harrison: This is somewhat true, but I think a majority of people are motivated enough to work and keep income coming in to their families.

ace June 18, 2009 at 3:59 am

I think #2 and #7 are big ones. Especially #2 where a lot more places are getting real finicky when it comes to hiring.

Queen Creek CPA December 4, 2009 at 6:54 pm

These are all very valid reasons. But I think you forgot one important one…lack of motivation. I find this is the case with many folks. With proper motivation you can overcome many obstacles.

Finance February 8, 2010 at 3:59 am

Resume is one of the reasons, I agree. Thanks for sharing this article!

Financialbondage.org May 17, 2010 at 5:24 am

Also, if you’re using outdated job search methods that is why you are not finding work.

for example, sending out 100 resumes and waiting for a response. This method no longer works today

"Tom" May 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Simply fabulous! I myself have gone through few of problems being mentioned above like, there was a problem with my CV design due to which I was told that in spite of being capable enough, I am not getting the right job for me. Another thing is, I was actually waiting for a suitable job to begin with, hence went through various problems during the initial phase of my career. But later on, I thankfully looked into the matters you mentioned above and now I have settled myself down properly in my career.

over30 May 10, 2013 at 10:00 am

Oh dear another smug idiot certain that he is right

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