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Proven Strategies and Tips for Success if You Have a Master’s Degree and Can’t Find a Job: A Guide!



Proven Strategies and Tips for Success if You Have a Master's Degree and Can't Find a Job: A Guide!

Many candidates pursue advanced educational opportunities to broaden their skill set and offer a higher level of competency to future employers. While earning a master’s degree can offer access to new professional opportunities, it can sometimes be challenging for candidates with advanced degrees to find jobs. If you have a master’s degree and can’t find a job, it may be helpful for you to review strategies for optimizing your job search. In this article, we outline the factors that can impede your ability to find a job with a master’s degree and 11 tips for increasing your chances of securing a role.

11 Reasons You’re Not Getting Hired (and What To Do About It)


An inevitable aspect of the job search is not getting the job you hoped for. It’s not always clear why you weren’t able to secure a position you felt fit your experience and skills perfectly. Knowing the reasons why you weren’t hired will help you better prepare for the remainder of your job search and obtain an exceptional position. In this article, we explain why knowing the reasons you didn’t get the job is important for your future job search success, the most common reasons why and what to do to fix them.

Why knowing the reasons you weren’t hired is important

Knowing what possible reasons may be preventing you from moving forward in the hiring process will help motivate you during your job search. When you have an understanding of the areas you can improve upon, you can take action to become a better candidate impress hiring managers. Additionally, knowing which areas you can refine will help guide you in the right direction during your job search and reduce confusion, making the journey more enjoyable.

Reasons why you’re not getting hired

  1. You’re passively participating.

  2. You’re showing a lack of passion.

  3. You’re undervaluing your talents.

  4. Your application needs work.

  5. You didn’t research the company.

  6. Your expectations are high.

  7. You have too much experience.

  8. You’re underqualified for the job.

  9. You need an industry connection.

  10. Your interviewing skills need improvement.

  11. You’re lacking references.

1. You’re passively participating

Having a proactive personality is directly correlated with career success. If you are applying to jobs without following up or simply applying to too few jobs, you are missing a key piece of the job search.

Work on strengthening your proactive approach to job searching by applying to more jobs a week, actively pursuing any possible leads by reaching out after interviews and strategizing your search. Strategies include knowing what type of job you’re looking for and what areas you are willing to adjust, such as salary, benefits, location and duties. It also entails knowing your strengths and weaknesses, setting time aside daily to search and apply and refining your resume.

2. You’re showing a lack of passion

Employers can sense if excitement for a position isn’t quite there. Skills can be taught, but employers desire to see passion and enthusiasm when considering applicants.

Convey how excited you are for a position in your cover letter and during your initial interview. When you apply for a job, read through the description and research the company thoroughly. Make a list of all the details that make you eager to work for that company and be sure to explain why you love your work and how you can be beneficial to the company’s mission and objectives.

3. You’re undervaluing your talents

Job searching is one of the most important times to show confidence and pride in your skills, knowledge and education. If you don’t demonstrate your greatest strengths and accomplishments, you may be overlooked for a role you are otherwise well-suited for.

Improve your ability to sell yourself by first understanding what your greatest strengths and accomplishments are and how they relate to the job you’re applying to. Then, carefully choose the traits and achievements that show the value you bring to a company and detail them in your resume and cover letter. Echo these in your interview with a balance of pride and humility.

4. Your application needs work

Your resume and cover letter are likely one of the most common reasons you’re not getting interviews. Your application is the first impression a hiring manager has of you and is the first step to getting an interview. If your resume doesn’t highlight your abilities well, is missing a sense of uniqueness or lacking keywords, you may not be chosen to move on in the hiring process.

Enhance your resume with an interesting introduction to get the hiring manager’s attention. Be sure to focus on your previous successes and accomplishments, and tailor your resume to each job. Even if two jobs are very similar, you still want to read the job posts and pick out the desired keywords and skills. Compare these to the skills you already possess and include the ones you have in your resume to help you stand out from other applicants.

5. You didn’t research the company

Another area that may affect your ability to find a job is forgoing research on the company and role. Many employers ask questions during an interview to test a candidate’s knowledge of the company and the job. They want to know a potential employee has taken the time to learn about the organization and shows a true interest in working there.

To help fix this, spend some time researching the company online and learning the following basic information:

  • Who the owner or CEO is

  • What the company’s goals, mission and values

  • What company culture is like

  • What the role entails

Your keen interest and attention to detail will impress employers.

6. Your expectations are high

It’s important to be flexible with salary and benefits expectations if you can afford to be. Some jobs may ask for an expected salary range, while others will have a set hourly wage. Going into an interview with a list of non-negotiable requirements may be a red flag for employers.

To improve upon your expectations, work on being as flexible as you can. Make a list of the benefits you need like health insurance and paid-time-off. Then, make an additional list of benefits that would be ideal, but negotiable such as hourly rate, salary or a retirement plan. Going into the interview explaining your needs and showing flexibility gives employers the positive impression that you are adaptable. Many employers may negotiate benefits with you if they have the authority to do so.

7. You have too much experience

While not always the case, large gaps between your experience and actual job requirements can cause you to be overlooked. Sometimes employers don’t pursue over-qualified candidates because they cannot pay what they believe an applicant will expect, or they want to be sure the applicant will stay with the company long-term and not look for a better job soon after hire.

If you are overqualified for a job, you can still keep yourself in the pool of applicants. A few ways to do this include addressing your experience outright in your application, explaining your salary flexibility and focusing on your interest in the work itself. Making it clear why you are applying will give employers more reason to invite you for an interview. Another way to increase your chances of getting hired is to match the skills on your resume to the job. You should always demonstrate that you have and are willing to do the tasks required, even if they are of less complexity than your last job.

8. You’re underqualified for the job

Many applicants shy away from applying for jobs that seem above their experience and skillsets, since employers often pass on applicants who lack the necessary skills for the job. This said, if you know how to approach the hiring manager with what you do bring to the job, it is still possible to be considered.

To improve your chances of getting hired for an advanced job, take the time to show the hiring manager you are a match for the position. A few ways to do this include listing as many key skills and experiences you can that are mentioned in the job post and mentioning education, volunteering, internships and any other learning experiences related to the role.

9. You need an industry connection

In today’s job market, having network connections can be of great benefit to applicants. Many companies have referral programs to bring in new hires because the success rate of referred employees is much higher than candidates acquired from job postings.

To work on your networking skills, attend conferences and events within the industry you’re looking to work in. When you receive leads or a referral from a contact, be sure to ask permission to use their name when you reach out. Remember, your network can also include friends and family. Letting people around you know what type of work you’re looking for can open up more opportunities for you.

10. Your interviewing skills need improvement

The initial interview is one of the most pivotal moments in the hiring process. Hiring managers base a lot on the first interview including how well you communicate and think critically, as well as your attention to detail and level of professionalism.

To improve your interview skills follow, these suggestions:

  • Dress appropriately. Your attire may vary depending on the type of job, however, your outfit should look professional and polished.

  • Arrive early. This shows your time management skills and respect for the company and interviewer’s time.

  • Silence your phone or turn it off. Focus on listening, making eye contact and paying full attention to the interviewer’s questions. This shows you are fully invested in the interview and avoid distractions easily. Make sure your phone is away and out of sight.

  • Keep your answers clear and succinct. Interviewers want responses that are straight-forward and directly answer their questions. If they ask you to provide an example, this is the time to go a bit more in-depth with your answer while remaining on track.

  • Speak positively or neutrally of past jobs and managers. Always speak well of past jobs to show your maturity and conflict-resolution skills. Explain difficult past experiences by discussing the issue and the solution, while remaining neutral of the other parties involved.

11. You’re lacking references

References are useful for hiring managers because they attest to the skills and experiences a candidate has listed on their resume. Lacking appropriate references, or having no references, can affect your eligibility for a job.

To fix this, you’ll need to reach out to individuals that can confirm your abilities and would be willing to recommend you for a job. References are usually former bosses or coworkers, but can also be former professors, vendors or colleagues you worked closely with. If you are just starting out, using character references like friends, neighbors and fellow volunteers can help. Make sure your references are reliable and aware of the specific job you are applying to.


What factors make it challenging to find a job with a master’s degree?

There are various reasons candidates may find it challenging to find a job in their field with a master’s degree. While advanced education can help candidates deepen their knowledge and specialize their skills, earning an additional degree isn’t always a direct pathway to securing a job. With this in mind, here are a few examples of factors that can hold candidates back from securing a role, even with a master’s degree:

  • Over-qualification: Candidates who have a master’s degree and apply for entry-level roles may find it challenging to find a job due to over-qualification. When your educational credentials exceed those listed in a role’s requirements, prospective employers may overlook your application if they don’t think they can offer you the potential for advancement or enough compensation for your skills.

  • Limited professional experience: When students graduate from college and immediately pursue master’s degree programs, they often forgo the opportunity to earn a foundation of entry-level experience. Upon graduation, these candidates may find it challenging to secure a role due to their lack of experience despite their high level of education.

  • Competitive field: If candidates hold a master’s degree in a field that’s highly competitive, they may find it challenging to secure a role—and this is especially true in fields with higher barriers to entry that are saturated with professionals who possess similar credentials. If candidates are competing against others in an application pool with identical qualifications, a master’s degree may not offer any significant advantage in their job search.

  • Lack of connections: Networking can help professionals in any field find new job opportunities. Without a robust foundation of connections, candidates with master’s degrees may find it challenging to find a suitable role.

11 tips for finding a job in your field

As a candidate with a master’s degree, finding a job in your field can require effort and commitment, but there are various actions you can take to increase your chances of securing a role. Here are 11 tips to optimize your job search:

1. Reflect on your most valuable skills

As you approach your job search, it can be helpful to make a list of your most marketable skills. When doing this, try to think about your skills from an employer’s perspective and what abilities they may find valuable. This can help you gain an understanding of what competencies you can draw attention to when applying for open roles.

2. Customize your resume to each role

When applying for roles, tailor your resume to match the requirements outlined in job descriptions. This can help hiring managers make important connections between your skill set and the competencies they desire in a qualified candidate. Doing this can increase your chances of receiving an invitation for an interview.

3. Network with professionals in your field

Having an extensive network of other professionals to call on when you’re seeking employment can be highly beneficial. Therefore, try to make connections with others in your field by attending events like speaking engagements and conferences. Your connections may be able to offer you job referrals or notify you of any openings that are otherwise unlisted.

4. Learn more about interviewing effectively

If you’ve interviewed for multiple roles and haven’t yet received an offer, you may need to strengthen your interviewing skills. There are various resources available online that can offer advice on how to conduct yourself professionally in an interview. In addition, some of these resources also discuss how to answer questions targeted at specific roles.

5. Identify any gaps in your skill set

It’s possible you haven’t been able to find a job in your field due to a gap in your skill set. Therefore, during your job search process, try to identify a few desirable skills that may make your application more appealing to prospective employers. From here, you may be able to pursue development opportunities or certifications so you can offer more as a candidate.

6. Take professional development seriously

There are various pathways you can take to develop yourself professionally beyond advanced education. Consider pursuing workshops, certificate courses or licensure in your field to increase your chances of securing a role. Taking professional development seriously can legitimize your competencies and help you situate yourself as a professional.

7. Understand how to sell your competencies

Landing a job in your field may require you to market yourself to potential employers, and this is especially true in competitive industries. To sell your competencies effectively, make sure to optimize your resume, craft a compelling cover letter and confidently discuss your skills in an interview. These efforts can help employers better understand the value you can offer their organization.

8. Pursue a fellowship

If you have limited professional experience, it may be useful for you to pursue experiential learning opportunities. Consider applying for a fellowship, internship or apprenticeship. These opportunities can help you build a foundation of experience and develop practical skills you can apply in a future role.

9. Start freelancing and build a portfolio

Having evidence of your professional accomplishments and experience can make a significant difference in your ability to secure a role. Therefore, if you work in an industry that allows it, consider freelancing or consulting to start out. Through these endeavors, you can build a portfolio of work and make connections with others in your field.

10. Search for jobs beyond online listings

Jobs listed publicly online may attract a wide pool of talent from various locations and professional backgrounds. Therefore, these roles are sometimes competitive and can be challenging to secure. Consider searching for roles beyond those listed online by reaching out to hiring managers and human resources personnel at organizations for which you wish to work.

11. Solicit help from a staffing agency

Staffing agencies can help connect candidates with prospective employers seeking professionals with specific qualifications. Therefore, you can reach out to a staffing agency and explain your situation. It’s possible that a member of the agency can help you navigate your job search and source roles in your field that fit your needs.



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