5 Reasons Why You're Not Getting Interviews (as a College Graduate) and How to Fix it ASAP

How frustrating is it when you have just completed a 2-4 year degree, only to be rejected over and over? Or told you need 2-3 years of experience for an entry level position? Below are some top tips on standing out amongst other recent graduates and getting more interviews.

1. Your applications are not focused.

No alt text provided for this image
  • Read the job description fully and make sure you match at least 75% of the requirements.
  • Follow any special instructions.
  • Apply quickly! If it's been over 3 weeks, odds are the company is already at the interviewing stage.
  • Strive to apply to 20 applications per week if your goal is to get a job quickly. Twenty may be a hard number to hit if you have many years of experience in a specific niche. Whether you are applying to 20 or 5, more time should be spent following up with the employer vs on applications.
  • Don't move backwards. You did not attend several years of schooling to obtain a position that doesn't require your degree and knowledge!
The greatest danger for most of us is not that we aim too high and we miss it, but that we aim too low and reach it. - Michelangelo


2. You are not tailoring your resume to the job and double checking for mistakes.

I get it. You want to show an employer how well-rounded you are by showcasing all of your skills and accomplishments. Make sure to highlight those that are most relevant to an employer. If you are a graphic designer, odds are an employer does not need to know that you can type 75 WPM.

  • Include skills and experience that are relevant to the job by including key words from the job description into your resume.
  • Include results or measurable job duties to showcase skills and accomplishments.
  • Highlight relevant training or projects.
No alt text provided for this image
  • Use spell check and grammar tools like Grammarly.
  • Double check for proper punctuation and misuse of capital letters.
  • Spell industry terms correctly!
  • Make sure your resume is ATS friendly.

3. Your resume is missing something HUGE

Having a college degree usually isn't enough to stand out nowadays. From employer feedback, I have been able to decipher the TOP 3 things an employer likes to see in addition to your degree: certifications, a strong portfolio, and/or relevant experience (internship, co-op, volunteer, etc).

  • 60% of employers say certifications help them determine skills. Not sure which certifications are needed for your industry? Check out what local employers want on their job postings or ONET. Look up your desired job title and go to the credential section. It will detail relevant certifications for the industry.
  • Not sure which certifications are in-demand in your area? Type in the certification into Indeed's search box. You will then see how many job openings there are in your area specifically asking for that certification.
No alt text provided for this image
  • 83% of employers say a portfolio is very useful in ensuring applicants have the skills/knowledge for the position. If you are in design, software development, or photography/film-making, you NEED a strong portfolio. This is going to showcase your skills in a way that your resume cannot and may be what sets you apart from another applicant. Include pieces you've developed on your own vs only your school assignments.
  • 78% of employers say an internship will help a lot with future applications. The #1 thing you should make sure to do while in college is to receive related experience to your degree. This can be paid, unpaid, or volunteer. Employers suggest having 2-3 different internships to make you a top contender right out of college. This will help demonstrate you can multitask, have experience from several companies, and can even assist you in asking for a better salary!

4. You need to get away from the screen

Rami Niemi

If you're obligated to stay indoors for whatever reason, this can be a bit of a challenge. However, when possible, try and take time to attend a job fair, drop off your resume in person, have an informational interview, or build additional skills for the position you'd like.

5. You're not following up

Many of us have misconceptions about the job searching process, especially when it comes to next steps. We have been told that someone will follow up with us or that if you contact an employer you are bothering them.

While any recruiter, hiring manager, or company referral will get annoyed by your relentless emails, there is a smart method to not make them angry and (hopefully) still get a response.

No alt text provided for this image
  • No not an email - a phone call. It's so easy to email these days, and even easier to ignore or forget to respond to said emails. Pick up the phone, ask for the person you'd like to speak to and have a short conversation! My recommendation is 24 hours after applying and 1 week after interviewing if you have not heard back. Keep in mind, this is not the time to sell yourself, but rather just get an update on the application or interview process. Short and sweet works!
  • Remember to be courteous. The recruiter/hiring manager/referral does not owe you anything. If they have or will be interviewing you and you are no longer interested, politely contact them and inform them. No one likes being left in the dark.