Smash these 4 Obstacles Killing Your Job Search




You apply and apply, yet never seem to get through to recruiters and companies. The online forms and questions they ask of you are strange and entirely at odds with the job description.

You lament the whole process. Yes, recruitment is often an over convoluted process, where it takes ages for companies to say ‘no’ to you.

This frustration is justified, as no recruitment process is perfect. Despite its deficiencies, these four key obstacles will be as relevant even if recruiting talent was an ideal system.


Below I will list what I see as the four obstacles that are often overlooked by new job seekers, why they are challenges you need to conquer and a few pointers to get you started.


Obstacle 1: I simply don’t have any relevant experience!

Often seen as the chicken and egg problem, fresh graduates and even seasoned employees run into this roadblock.

This issue frustrates job seekers as job descriptions will have a long shopping list of things you do not have.

But think again. Approach these requirements from another angle.


Step one. List out the job requirements for the role you really want. Pay particular attention to what is common. Craft a resume template based on your findings.

Step two. Write points that describe how your current skills and experiences can be used to knock down a few of these requirements. Focus on tasks that are common and most important, often ‘key requirements.’  Include unpaid and volunteer experience, which you most definitely can use.

Step three. Craft resumes that focus on critical tasks and requirements, and the matches you have with your skills and experiences.

Your selling point is describing what you do well that fits with the essential requirements. The next step is to try and find as many ways to bridge the gap between what is needed. You do not have to meet all the criteria, but the deal breaker ones. Think about the purpose of the role you are chasing, and what core skills are needed.


Another way to bridge the gap in experience and skills is by joining professional organizations, online and offline. If there are events where you can meet and mingle, do so and gain some connections. Also, ask for advice and insight, and have a few questions prepared.

One way to get ahead is calling or reaching out to anyone relevant to discuss the role advertised within the company. You can build rapport and learn what they really want in job candidates.

The attitude in how you go about trying to remedy your deficiencies will impress managers and recruiters more than a spotless resume.


Obstacle 2: No focus in your job search

Merely wanting a corporate role, to grow and be part of a fantastic company will not hack it. Companies know what their objectives are, and what sort of people tend to thrive in their culture. And the people that do succeed are those that are switched on, who knows what they want.

Someone without clear career aspirations is a warning sign to many companies.

A typical interview question asked is ‘where do you see yourself in ten years?’

You should be asking yourself this question weekly. Why? Because it will paint a picture of what you want, the steps you will take, the challenges you will grab, and the core skills that will define your professional value.

Setting aside time to think about what you want is crucial. It will help create clarity in what you look for, how you research companies.


For example, I would find a leader in the industry of my choice and research their career path. I would ask questions such as:

  • What challenges and responsibilities did they proactively seek?
  • What fundamental skills did they hone and polish?
  • What are the main things they looked for in a role, in a company?


Another key benefit of having a focused job search is the data you can compile. You can test what methods give you the best responses from employers. It will help you increase your interview rate, raising the probability of landing your next job. Using random job applications in different roles and companies will not garner you this; you are comparing apple and oranges.


Obstacle 3: Poor interview preparation

Like a poorly focused job search, not having a plan in how you tackle your interview will leave you parroting cliched responses.

People often forget the obvious: the job description. The interview answers you create need to first focus on the job advertisement.

  • Here are a few example questions.
  • How would you perform this task?
  • How knowledgeable are you about using this software/tool?
  • We have many competitors. How would you answer a question from a potential client, when asked ‘what makes you the better option?’


Start from the job advertisement and the critical duties outlined. Create scenarios and think about what you would be doing if you were working in that role. Also, think up problems and how you would solve them when doing tasks.

The job description forms the base of your interview questions. Don’t be caught out focusing on what the media says, or the rich tradition of the company. Formulate answers relevant to the job itself.


Obstacle 4: Meekly taking ‘no’ as the end all answer

Ever hear how your parents met, or other couples? Usually, its where one party launches proposals on multiple fronts. The wooing is relentless and quite creative.

Think of recruiters and companies like someone you are trying to serenade. If you falter and walk away from one rejection, they will not believe your affection is genuine.

Be dogged and be ready for rejection.


Don’t take no for an answer. If you receive a no, ask for feedback. Try and get a number or email and ask to chat over coffee, for advice. Make it so that it would be easy to say yes, and awkward to say no. It doesn’t even have to be someone from the department your role is situated. Ask about the culture, their experiences. Be open to criticism and build rapport and connections.

Send a thank you note and say you will be calling again. It can be as simple as: “Thank you for taking the time to consider me for this position. Things may change on your end in 6 months’ time. I will contact you again soon.’ Ask to chat over coffee, if for nothing else for some advice.

Send out feelers asking about roles in companies that are not advertising. Be annoying. Test and send follow up after follow up with various professionals in the company. Ask to meet, go to events they hold, follow and interact with them online.


The impression you will leave is a professional that seeks opportunity, where you are not afraid of chasing it down.


In closing

These 4 obstacles are in no way exhaustive of the pitfalls that are rampant in job searching, but they are common problems that cause grief for many.

If there was one thing I would want you to take away from this, it would be this: approach your job search as a professional that is willing to go the hard yards to get results. The attitude and the way you approach your job hunt will shine through to recruiters and companies.

Be creative. Test out different ways to get your foot through the door.

Remember, no one else will do the legwork for you.


It’s up to you.



How do you approach job hunting? What are some proven tips that work for you?

Please share your stories and advice in the comments below. 

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