Seven Reasons You Are Still Unemployed (And How to Change Your Future)

Hooray! All the news seems positive for people entering the workforce!

  • For the first time since 1997 employers added more than 200,000 jobs per month, for the last six months.
  • Jobless claims* are at or around historical lows, decreasing by 14,000 to 298,000 for the week ending August 16th. (*Jobless claims defined as people filing for unemployment for the first time)
  • Unemployment rates are down to 6.2% down from 7.3% just one year ago.

Time to add a ping pong table to the conference room and act like we did during the ‘lets throw away money on a ridiculous internet business idea’ era of 1999!

why you are unemployed and what you need to do

There are reasons people struggle to find jobs, we outline a few reasons and how to break the unemployed funk

Hold up. You are one of the 9.7 million Americans without a job?

Yikes.

I’d love to sit here and tell you your luck will change but the truth is, it won’t. It’s not about luck – it’s about something you are doing wrong.

Yes, YOU. Stop blaming others, it’s you time.

I get it, this is harsh and I may have already pissed off the lot of you, but maybe that’s exactly what you need. Maybe you need someone to explain that this isn’t about waiting for some big break, or for someone to “understand you”, or being stubborn expecting the world to come to you.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – Albert Einstein

Are you insane? Are you making the same mistakes over and over?

Well…snap out of it. Now.

There is no chance that I can analyze each individual mistake being made by the millions of unemployed, but I guarantee some of the errors we highlight below are becoming common for you either consciously of subconsciously.

Time to start making some changes – I suggest you start with these:

1: You are a Mind-Numbingly Boring Interview

I had a job opening that I was interviewing for, an entry-level position that required some specific skills, and I probably interviewed 40 candidates for the job.

I started out excited, because interviewing for an opening is like holding your own NFL draft – you are filled with hope that you will add someone who will alter the culture positively and improve the efficiency of the business.

unemployed make change

Job interviewing is like your own mini NFL draft, full of hope and possibilities. Until you realize everyone you interview is about as exciting as Kurt Warner.

But, the reality was awful.

For 39 out of the 40 interviews I might as well have just hit rewind and play – they all sounded exactly the same. I asked different questions, changed the dynamic, added in a staff counsel to be part of the interview process…but they were all so, so boring.

It is as if each candidate read the same, “How to Nail Your Job Interview” ebook, for $9.95 off some two-bit career advice site written by people who have never held a job.

Cliché “I just want to work hard” after cliché “I’m a real team player” after cliché “my biggest weakness is that I’m so loyal!

Break the Unemployed Funk:

Be memorable without being cheesy. People like to read stories so in the interview be a bit of a storyteller – explain your experience with charisma, share something you’ve achieved, but give it some life.

Don’t try to be perfect and rehearsed.

Also, if you get a chance, get up out of your seat to answer a question. Go to the whiteboard to draw out an editing workflow, or a sales cycle, or a marketing execution process. This shows a great deal of confidence and a mastery of a certain subject.

2: Your Grooming Stinks

This is awkward, but this is an awkward article.

Maybe you smoke and you smell (even if you don’t smell it).

Maybe you need a haircut (even if you think you look cool).

Maybe your shirt or dress is wrinkly (seriously get an iron)

Maybe you are pierced (sorry but that tells a negative story to a lot of employers)

Maybe you didn’t shave (either have a beard or don’t – no in-between stylishness)

You think these are obvious pitfalls? Well, to many they aren’t because I see or hear about these mistakes daily.

Break the Unemployed Funk:

Get off of your “I’m an individual” high horse and conform for just a moment so you can get hired, get money and go back to your home grown stank as often as you want. Just wait until after you prove you can do the job better than any office Mary Poppins wearing powdery perfume and perfectly coiffed hair.

3: You Lack Hard Skills

Here’s the biggie: Passion does not make you hirable.

unemployed and how to fix it

If your resume isn’t full of things you can do, and is instead full of descriptive words that you want to do, you will not make the cut

Daily, and I mean DAILY, I get emails from people explaining how big of a sports fan they are and how they have always wanted to work in sports.

After I say, “You have come to the right place – we feature over 6,000 sports jobs across the world! So what skills do you have?” you might as well hear a dial tone coming straight from their brain.

Skills? What do you mean skills?

Well… can you sell anything? Can you edit video? Do you have a marketing background? Do you know how to run an audio board? Do you have experience in statistical analysis? Can you run a camera? Are you a good writer? Have you ever pitched an idea before?

Um, I played Football in High School.

EEERRRRR! Sorry, not good enough. Next please.

Break the Unemployed Funk:

If you want to work in sports find out where there are opportunities by studying our job results daily and then get the skills necessary to compete for those jobs.

For example:

  • When I ran the production at a regional sports network, we always had the hardest time finding Technical Directors.
  • When I asked my cohorts around the nation, they always struggled to find Technical Directors too.
  • Just a few weeks ago I met up with an old colleague of mine for lunch and the first question he asked me was, “do you know any good Technical Directors?”

I’m not saying you have to be a Technical Director to work in sports; I’m saying you must find out where the need is and then learn the skills to fill it!

4: You Haven’t Personalized Anything

If you aren’t personalizing each and every cover letter and resume highlighting the skills necessary and required for THAT job application – you are selling yourself short.

There is nothing worse as a hiring manager than reading a clearly generic cover letter and resume. You are instantly forgettable.

Break the Unemployed Funk:

I once was helping with some recruiting for a college sports network, and to this day remember the opening line of the cover letter I received from one of the applicants:

“My life’s timeline is etched with collegiate sports memories; Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary, Tyus Edney’s miracle dash against Missouri, the Bush Push to beat Notre Dame. College sports, unlike pro, weaves itself into your life in unforgettable fashion.”

They proceeded to explain their qualifications which we’re perfectly aligned with what the employer needed. This was not a form letter, this was crafted for our job opening and it showed. (and yes they were hired).

Put in the extra effort to personalize every touch point with an employer.

5: Your Depression Makes the First Impression

Losing a job or being rejected for one is depressing, demoralizing and a multitude of other words that start with de.

unemployed fix your attitude

This guy has a bad beard and a bad attitude!

But you can’t let it show. Desperation is the bitter enemy of the job interview process.

If you appear desperate that is scary to an employer, you immediately invoke visions of someone begging for raises or promotions, unhappy doing the work required or impacting the company culture in a negative way.

You have to show the best version of yourself, no matter how hard that may be.

Break the Unemployed Funk:

Being that I am not a psychologist (and frankly if it wasn’t for spell-check I couldn’t even spell it) it’s hard for me to tell how how to frame your mind as you enter an interview.

My experience is that people have a hard time acting normal, they either come across desperate or try to force happiness, which is really awkward. Just try to find your normal and leave all the baggage behind.

6: You’re Unprepared

I’ll admit, I got by a majority of my early life just winging it. I was never big for preparation, or planning, or doing things ahead of an assignment.

But that doesn’t work in the real world.

When you have budgets to manage, staff to meet, plans to build, outlooks to project – you have to be organized, prepared and know your stuff.

If you don’t prepare for an interview and have intricate knowledge of the business, not just reading an industry trade in the lobby, you will be exposed.

Break the Unemployed Funk:

If you can’t do research you can’t function in today’s job market. Become a master of Google search, read until you can’t read no more, ask questions in LinkedIn groups, find a mentor – these are the things you should do to prepare.

Getting an “A” on a test in college does nothing to guarantee success, it’s just one small step in a bigger process (can you tell I used this excuse many times to avoid studying). On the other hand, nailing an interview by having one extra piece of intricate knowledge that another candidate didn’t, is directly related to success.

Study like you have never studied before.

7: You’re applying to the wrong jobs

More is not better. I’ve had people comment on my articles lamenting that they have applied for 400 jobs over 4 months, not received a single job offer and that it is somehow someone else’s fault.

There is a 0% chance that if you apply for 400 jobs in 4 months you are uniquely qualified for each of them. Let me make one point really clear: If you are not qualified for a job – DO NOT go through the motions of applying.

unemployed big stack of resumes

Only apply for jobs you are uniquely qualified for and you will become less of a number and more of a candidate

Why do this? So you can tell your friends on Facebook that you tried and failed again? So you can make a comment on a job board that you have made 400 applications?

Let me ask you this – do you want people’s sympathy or do you want a job?

Bottom line, when you apply for jobs you are not qualified for you are wasting your time, you are wasting the employers time and you are building bad blood between you and them.

I used to have a pile that I set aside for “continual appliers”. No matter what the job was, they applied. It got so I could recognize their resume immediately and I discounted them completely. Maybe I was wrong to do that, maybe they were a perfect candidate for one of the jobs I had, but they had wasted my time so many times previous I just couldn’t consider them.

I always had this vision in my head that if they did get the job they would be knocking on my door daily to say “do you have a second?” which would invariably turn into 30 minutes of catatonic time where we discussed their feelings.

Break the Unemployed Funk:

Be selective and know yourself.

I’ve worked in the sports broadcast media for 15 years but I am not qualified to be a Director, so I would never apply for a Director opening. When you apply for jobs you aren’t qualified for you are wasting the time you could be spending researching the businesses with job openings you are qualified for.

Final Thoughts:

This article was meant to be harsh and a bit of a wake-up call. Don’t blame others for your current situation, figure out how to make yourself a better match for what is out there and make it happen.

You can do it, we have faith in you (and about 6,000 sports jobs openings!)

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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

And if you want to know where our privacy policy is before you submit your comments below, it's right here.

Comments

  1. concetta bombace says:

    thank you so much for this article mr clapp. i will be giving this article to my 23 year old grandson who will be graduating in june with a masters in sports management. they do not prepare them enough in college for the challenges of securing their first jobs. they supply them with most internships that are not great learning experiences. you should think about teaching college students how to successfully implement all the advice you have given above with hands on interviews throughout the course. i would certainly pay to have someone like you mentor my grandson and instill your wisdom to him. thanks again, i enjoyed reading this article and will look for other info on you to pass on.

    • Concetta – you just made my day. Please let me know if I can ever help. – Brian

      • concetta bombace says:

        i will mr. clapp. i spent the day making copies of many of the written articles i found them very interesting and i’m sure will bring a great deal of insight to my grandson. God always puts the right people in your life when you need them.

  2. John Longsong says:

    Yea, let’s all be just … like … you! and we’ll all be great! (***h***) If I were an employer, I wouldn’t hire you for being a stuck up better-than-you.

    • Ha! Great response John – truth is the stuff I write about is generally mistakes I’ve made personally or have witnessed happen. I’m not afraid to share my downfalls in the spirit of helping others – but I can respect how it would rub some people the wrong way. The majority of the time I write in a supportive tone, other times I try to be more aggressive in my approach, different audiences like different techniques (I think I know what side you are on). – Brian

  3. Thank you so much for this article! I currently have a job, but am trying to land my dream job in the healthcare industry as that is where most of my experience and SKILLS are. Whatever industry a person wants to work in, I think your points are all valid and easily relatable to any industry. I’ll admit tho, I do think making yourself stand out in an online based culture, is harder now than ever. What I’m running into, is that is a risk. Good or bad, it totally depends on the employer. I’ve done things similar to your example of the candidate who had a great cover letter, and sometimes I have gotten an interview (which did result in a job offer), and other times I never heard anything back. To me, it’s a risk, but that’s why it’s so important to research the company. Again, thank you for the great advice.

    • Thanks Kandice – I’m glad we hit the mark for you, and I agree in today’s Applicant Tracking System world it can be much harder and more frustrating to get hired. – Brian

  4. Karen Wysocki says:

    Hi Brian.

    This article is a SNAP OUT OF IT petition that has jerked my head… in a good way. I used to apply for jobs that I was not qualified for, and hoped the employer would read my, as you say, already-heard-it cover letter: “I am a motivated team player and a quick learner.” Funny now that I read your article. I recently had to write a newsletter heading that described myself in 6 words or less. That was hard to write without feeling self-centered. Thanks to you I will reevaluate for a better approach. I am passionate about sports and accounting …. so I have some work to do on selling my uniquabilities (I made up that word).

    Thank you.
    ~Karen

  5. Clapp is a sanctimonious imbecile.

  6. I liked the way you were in-your-face kind of writing. Definitely a wake up call. I’m currently looking to intern or get a job in the sport marketing industry. Thank you for this article. I need to change up the way I go about things.

    • Chris thanks – I’ve had some people call me an imbecile or worse because of my tone in this article… all I’m trying to do is help. Once I was producing a show at CNN and breaking news happened, it was dramatic and unexpected, I started to panic a bit and a friend in the control room literally slapped me. It woke me up and got my head clear. All was perfect after that. I’m glad you realized that was my approach in this post…a virtual head slap 😉 – Brian

  7. Steve Jobs says:

    Do you actually buy this horseshit?

Trackbacks

  1. […] Your advice, while potentially useful, fails to address that it is not a “cure all solution” and is not wholly relevant to the market today. I went into college with these same strategies in mind, and followed them faithfully. Now after obtaining my B.S. I’m still living with my parents spending day after day sending out applications. I have applied only for entry-level positions that I was vastly overqualified for to make sure that my application wouldn’t just get tossed in the under-qualified bin. And yet here I am, 9 months and more than 400 applications later. So tell me, if I did all of this that you advocate, have had my applications repeatedly reviewed by “experts” to make sure they would interest employers, and yet nobody is interested in hiring, what would you say? […]

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