Young And Unemployed? 3 Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Hired


If you’re a college graduate and you’re unemployed, you might have an idea of what I’m about to talk about. You’ve spent four years of your life hitting the books, getting good grades, participating in relevant extra-curricular activities, and maybe even juggling a part-time job in between. You’ve worked really hard for your degree and you’ve been told time and time again that a degree is essential to finding employment in today’s competitive job market. So, why are you not getting hired?

First of all, you’re not alone. According to this survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, men and women from ages 20-24 are about 70.9% of the total population, but only 13.3% are part of the labor force. Though the unemployment rate has slowly declined for Bachelor degree owners, it’s still lagging. For that reason, the competition is fiercer than ever. This means you really have to re-evaluate your job search strategy.

3 Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Hired

Here are some reasons why you might not be part of the employed percentage just yet:

1. Your Resume Isn’t Job Specific

While it’s good to have a strong resume with all of your professional skill sets, your resume can become generic when all you do is send the same resume to every open position you find. Take the time to rewrite your resume on multiple occasions and use specific keywords that are in the job description.

According to an article on the Job Center of Wisconsin website, gathering information specific to the job you are applying for and matching it with your experience on your resume is what makes a good resume. You have to “Think like an employer,” the article states, “do not give unrelated or negative information.”

2. You’re Not Applying To Jobs That Are Specific To Your Skills

You have every reason to apply to every job in sight. Our economy, though steadily improving, is still lagging in jobs for recent graduates. Still, it doesn’t do you any favors when you apply to every single job you see and send the same resume to each one.

Apply to the jobs you want and are qualified for. After all, it’s what you studied for. Try to make a list of potential places you’d like to work for and target those companies any way you can. Use social media sites to find people you can network with, and keep an eye out for any open positions. You have a better chance at getting hired at a job where your skills are relevant than at a job you’re 100% unqualified for.

3. You Don’t Take Your Social Media Profiles Seriously

According to an article on the Undercover Recruiter, a survey of 300 professionals by Reppler found that “hirers are using social networks to screen job applicants.” This means you should clean up your Facebook and Twitter profiles to present a more positive, but more importantly, a professional image of yourself.

It might be in your best interest not to post that picture of you doing a keg stand as your default, or Tweet about how you hate looking for jobs because you’d rather be partying with your friends.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Belen Chacon

Belen is a journalism graduate student at California State University, Northridge. She spends her time interning wherever she can and tweeting her heart out. You can follow her @journobelen.


  1. Why do employers seem to not bother with mums returning back to work unless they have degrees? I have my GCSE’s, I have even got 3 A levels, but when we had our first child, nearly 8 years ago, we decided I would stay at home until she was at school. Two years later, another child came along. So here I am, 8 years after my last job, and surprise surprise, I have not had one whiff of a job. Multiple interviews, and rejection letters coming out of my ears, a huge phone bill where I ask for interview feed back only to be sat on hold for ages, one text rejection (yes, really, I was shocked they could do that!) and many more where they failed to even tell me I was unsuccessful. My partner keeps saying don’t feel down hearted, and we are lucky he has a high paying job, but its hard not to feel utterly worthless, useless and unwanted. I am aware I come across angry, disheartened, etc, but quite frankley I am! I’m 30 this year and already feel I have been thrown on the scrap heap, what can I do to make myself stand out?
    I have my sister telling me to play on the skills motherhood inevitably teaches you, but I have one friend telling me not to even mention the children until I actually have the job. Are either right?

    • Thanks for sharing that post Andeline! If you find more that would be useful for our readers, keep ‘em coming!

  2. “According to this survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, men and women from ages 20-24 are about 70.9% of the total population, but only 13.3% are part of the labor force.”

    Uh, no.

    What that chart is saying is that of the total population of 20-24 year old adults, 70.9% are in the labor force (about 15.5 million out of 21.8 million). Of the 15.5 million in the labor force, 13.3%, or about 2.1 million are unemployed, but considered to be “in the labor force” (which means they are actively looking for work).

  3. Hi Mam,

    It is a great eye opener and very true.

    Since my college has no recruitment coming in,and here in my country it is usually recruitment through high profile recommendations or campus recruitment is so called colleges/universities that have “political background”. This thought of it really makes me go down,,as I dont have both. I have pretty successful in networking,, where people get impressed with my profile,, get my resume,, say they will try their best on it,, and dont get back. it is really disheartening of when I will be able to realize my dreams. Please help.

  4. I graduated in June 2010 with a degree in Electrical/Electronic Engineering and I had my first job with a major telecommunications vendor in August 2010. I worked with them for a while till I had a job offer from another major Telecommunications vendor in the industry. And so I switched jobs in February 2012 having worked with my previous employer for a little over a year and a half. Unfortunately after being with this new company for about 8 months I was laid off because apparently they were running at a loss and had to reduce the labor force. I have been unemployed since October 2012 and haven’t landed any interviews this year 2013. I only had two interviews last year. I’ve applied to jobs with job specific resumes, my social networking sites are clean and I have been calling companies everyday and following up on jobs that I have already applied to. I seriously don’t know what’s missing. I’m very confused now and will appreciate if anyone can support me with some advice.

      • Primarily mine consists of maintaining relationships with my 3 top mentors, meanwhile connecting with recruiters and executives at various companies in my area on LinkedIn, also I’ve been connecting with small business owners etc.

        I’m starting college in the fall so any advice to they give me on how to get relevant experience will be taken in stride, and I will be handing them my resumes personally when I graduate to ensure that they have first dibs on handing it to their hiring managers.

        • Good plan David, wishing you the best. These days and always pretty much has been, the “IN” that one has in a company is having a contact already there . Good luck !

    • Hi Mike; It ain’t you, it’s them ! I can relate to your frustration and desperation with 6 years looking, 4 interviews and doing everything right according to the “experts”, and still looking. Include a note that will indicate ” professional and temporary consultation service” available. Accept that employers are looking for the “right” employee : 28-32 , with PhD, family, 5-7 years experience, looking for entry level and will accept minimum wage, and look like Miss America or soap stud. Though it will be denied and totally accepted as “illegal” it goes on. I have been on that end of the business for a few employers and know first-hand. I keep looking though and eventually will come across…something ! Cecilia’s question of networking is viable. Knowing someone is the key, 90 % of the jobs I have had came from knowing someone in the company, or a friend of a friend. BTW, I am almost 60, and on the other end of unemployed in a growing group. Good luck and keep on, keeping on !

  5. I graduated in December with a Masters in Electrical Engineering and I’ve been unemployed since then. I’ve applied to jobs with job specific resumes, offered to volunteer in the organizations,my social networking sites are clean. I’ve been calling companies everyday and personally submitting resumes to the HRs. I’m at a loss now. I don’t know what’s missing.My only constraint is that I don’t want to change my field. I would appreciate if someone can give me some advice.

    • Prats,

      I don’t have all the facts for what you’ve done, what you’re doing, and/or how you feel so some of what I am going to say will sting. (Ignore that part of yourself though and focus on the process of what I’m saying)
      On average according to data gathered by Gartner, Staffing Industry Analyst, and other reputable organizations the average person finds that it is taking between 5-7 months to find gainful employment. (What these reports are not saying or I believe taking into account is the number of interviews, the places/industries interviews are taking place, and the persons ability/prowess in interviewing)

      There are no absolutes in interviewing simply because of the human factor. My ambition is to get you as close to guaranteed suceess as posible. What you need to do is list each step you’ve taken thus far in your interviewing process, list what your goals are for an interview in general, list what your interview goals are per title/function within organizations (HR, Internal Recruiter, Hiring Mngr.), list what you bring to the table in terms of “why you”, create a story that paints a picture of who you are and how it is to work with you, list the top 15 companies in your area that you’d like to work for, list the issues those companies face by not having the position filled and how you solve those issues, find out as much as you can about each hiring manager, get signed up with 3-4 recruiters, invest in having your resume created if you’re unsure how one should look (there is a 85% chance that you don’t), create a 14 sec elevator pitch that details who you are and the value you add, BYPASS HR AS MUCH AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE, create a LinkedIn profile immediately even if it will be sparse, and get rid of the anguish, frustration, and creeping fears that you experience from time to time right now. Once you’ve done this you can then honestly assess how much value you’ve brought to your calls and interviews to date. (Understand that the chances are high that you haven’t added that much value) Now that you have a picture in your head about what you’ve done, sit down with those recruiters that have a great track record of placing engineers. Walk them through your goals for working with them and for getting hired.

      Now, that being said, yes, what I just listed is what average people will consider difficult or unnecessary and that is exactly why they’ll be at the bottom of the pile going forward. Your job as an aplicant is to sell yourself, your abilities, and your promise in a way that the hiring manager will “want and need you”. I can’t promise you that this will instantly get you hired but I can promise you that it will increase your win percentages. There are a ton of other things that Cecilia can tell you if and when you call her so please take full responsibility and keep moving forward.

      • Thanks a lot for your advice Anthony I appreciate it completely. I do understand that I have to be patient about my job search but unfortunately I don’t have much time left on my visa. I have been networking and speaking to hiring managers and stuff . I’m trying my best to be organized and committed to my job search and I will take your advice all though I do wish time wasn’t a constraint

  6. Nick @ ayoungpro.com

    I just graduated in December and I landed my first professional job during my last semester. Number 1 on your list is definitely the reason I was able to get so many interviews. The value of a targeted resume cannot be overstated. That being said, landing an interview is only half of the battle!

  7. All good points in the comments. I would like to add something else. Recent graduates expect a job in their field of study immediately after graduation and will not settle for a j-o-b instead. After I graduated college, my dad patted me on the back, gave me a briefcase and a resume templete, shook my hand and said it was time to go to work. My first job after graduation was waiting tables. I worked in the food service industry for a year and a half until finally finding a job in my field of study. Unless you have a specific degree matching specific jobs such as nursing, teaching, engineering or other very specialized fields do not expect your first job after graduation to be in your field of training. Take any j-o-b and build a work history and keep looking/applying for jobs in your field of study.

    • Even though that job may be in your field of study but is not enough pay to stay afloat to live? And when I mean not enough money like living paycheck to paycheck is it worth it?

      • No. It is not worth it depending on your circumstances. If you had a job paying 40k, were let go, had to get on unemployment, then found a job making 30k or worse, and lord forbid you got let go, you have effectively reduced your unemployment income. Now to some that will sound pathetic but if you’ve ever been unemployed you’ll know that every dollar counts.
        Also, taking just any j-o-b says a lot to potential hiring managers that don’t have the common sense to be objective in the interview. Everything you think, say, and do in your job search should be attached to an overall well thought out goal/plan. What you don’t know can and will cost you during th einterview process.

        • I think the best answer is “it depends.” There is truth to it being easier to find a job when you already have one, but of course, for many of the reasons Anthony cites, it’s a more complicated answer than just “yes/no.”

          Also, Benjamin, you are hitting the nail on the head for one of the problems with how we develop our workforce. If one knew his field of study can’t provide him with a decent income, would he pick the same field? Would one maybe supplement his interests with marketable skills in a different field so he can study what he enjoys AND support himself when it’s over?

          Part of the problem is that too many young people are choosing what to study based ONLY on what is of interest to them. I believe it must be a combination of what is of interest and what is in demand.

          • I’m in agreement with Cecilia. For your own benefit Benjamin, think about all the students that major in art, history, or humanities. Chances are all the ones you know or know of are not getting any sort of ROI from that degree. People entering into college now should absolutely “DECIDE” to at least do something that will create value and money for five years. (Value = the expereince and recognition of having Google or Apple on your resume / Money = having a 40-50k a year job that pays you an additional 40-50k in commision.)

          • I get what you’re saying but I’ve dedicated about 5 years to study in my field only to find out that competition is still rough. I just stuck between taking a job that will help me build my resume and work experience to lead to a better job or move back home and fill in a job to help me pay off my student loan debt and bills? What would you do in my situation? Should I just take the job and give it a year and see where it will lead me or should I just keep looking for other job prospects? I should reiterate that I’ve been unemployed since October 2012 and I’m still unemployed.

        • I think I’ve learned that throughout my 5-6 interviews within the past 6 months of unemployment. I initially took an internship opportunity and thought I could convince the owner of the company to hire me on full time but it was just for a summer/3 month period. I’ve been unemployed since October 2012. Recently, I’ve been offered a job opportunity of 30,000 but with no benefits. It’s a small company in my field but I will be pretty tight on money. I’m just curious what I should do in my situation. I’m moving back home with my parents and I broke down my living expenses. With living expenses I’ll be making 23,000 net gross with about $1997 a month for living expenses (everything including rent, utilities, food, cell phone, gas, student loans, and savings). Is this worth taking this job opportunity in my field or should I get a job in no relation to my field of study (i.e. working at a warehouse) to save money and pay off my student loans and debt? What’s your advice on my situation?

          • At the end of the day Benjamin this will be your decision and only you can make it.
            You’ve done more than most though by thinking as far ahead as you have about finances and the value prop of this $30,000 offer.

            Should you take the offer? Yes but only after you make a counter offer for 37,500. (Will you get it? most likely you will not but you’ll get a counter offer 8-10 times. Why? Because they made you an offer in the first place.)

            As soon as you start working, work at knowing more than everyone else (but not in a brown noser kind of way), work at becoming invaluable every day. Immediately let go of the fact that you’re not making what you would “like” to make. No one does. Just keep adding to your own value. Sign up with four recruiting agencies. Don’t do it willie nilly either. Interview the agencies and when they’re incredulous as to why you would do that explain because its their job to add value to both their client and you. You’re not just another person you’re an “individual”. Individuals are worth more time, effort, and money to intelligent corporatiuons.

  8. Over the past month or so I have come to really like this site and the tid bits that the writers share with its audience. I have also come to understand that unemployment is an epidemic that isn’t going to be solved by tid bits, sound bites, euphemisms, and hand holding.

    Your resume isn’t job specific is point one. Well no resume will be job specific enough for the job description that isn’t specific either. Nor will that resume be specific enough for a recruiter, HR Generalist, or hiring manager that suffers from subjectivity.

    You’re not applying to jobs that are specific to your skills. This is an industry cop out because there are a great number of employed people in a job that they did not have the skill set for. What does qualified mean specifically in this economy in Corp Ameica? Unless you’re a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or software developer, there are not too many jobs that your skill set actually matters. (Many people will argue this point until the cows come home but in the real world this doesn’t matter if you understand interviewing)

    You don’t take your social media profiles seriously. While I get the point of this I seriously wish that the person who first initiated this trend could be found, fined, and banned from ever speaking again. Yes, if you’re dumb enough to have a Facebook, Twitter, or whatever account out there with you in a drunken pose, hagging out at a strip club, or with a doobie hanging from your lips, you’re character or at least your capacity to make good judgements is questionable. On the other hand, just because you’re savvy enough to know better doesn’t make you any more skilled or qualified to work for me. (Hell, Bill Clinton is still one of the most respected individuals in America and i’m betting that Blue Dress still hasn’t been washed) Point is people use social media as a crutch for not actually doing their job and being a real part of the interview process.

    Young and Unemployed? Here are the real world, unapologetic reasons you’re not getting hired. 1) You don’t have the so called professional skill set because you’re a so called “new graduate or entry level candidate” 2)You honestly don’t have any professional skills because you’ve never been in a professional environment. 3) You don’t have a process for job hunting, interviewing, or professional networking. 4) You don’t know how to sell and you didn’t realize that every interview is a sales call. 5) You don’t know how to write a resume and you don’t know what a good one looks like. 6) You don’t speak algorithm. You know, the key words that lazy organizations use to define wether a candidate is skilled and or qualified. 7) You are a victim of bad hiring practices. (Do not use this as a crutch)

    At the end of the day, you the candidate have a serious responsibility to yourself to understand the process of interviewing. First year, young, and new employees earn on average a 30k base. Isn’t it worth it to actually undersdtand why I should hire you and noty the other 4 people in the lobby? Shouldn’t you know how to close the deal?

    Sites like Careeralism are great but until their appraoch becomes that of stern consultant you’re not going to get any closer to being employeed because your ingrained habits and outlook will not change.

    • Anthony, I like your no-nonsense and realistic approach. It’s apparent you have been out there and it’s closer to the truth than the advice given by others. Then again, with the dimwit HR personnel who look for resumes with bullets, buzz-words, and fancy fonts, who can honestly say ? :-)

      • I appreciate the compliment David. I’ve been on all sides of the interviewing square. HR, hiring manager, recruiter, and of course candidate. It’s a brutal cycle if one isn’t prepared for it or if expectations are too high. I truly believe until organizations remove HR from a great portion of the hiring process, demand more from managers in their description of the job, and their ability to recruit, recognize and hire good and great talent, we’ll be having this same conversation next year, the year after, and so on.

  9. 4. You’re not dressing appropriately for interviews. I saw on Facebook that a young woman (24-ish) wore “pink cigarette pants and magenta lipstick” to her interview. I’m sure she looked great, but I’m not so sure she sent the right message to her potential employer. Your interview should not be remembered for what you wore, but for what you said you had to offer them.

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