Oh no, I didn’t get the job!

didn't get the job

As a career coach, I hear from so many people who are frustrated when they either didn’t get the job they ‘just knew’ was perfect (which can be heartbreaking) and from even more who received no response to the submissions of their resumes.

First off, as I say over and over and over again, submitting your resume to a job you see on-line is not the best way to find a job. Sure, for some roles and in some industries — especially when hiring numerous people for the same type of roles — this may be the way companies find talent. For roles with very high turnover, this may work as well. Think here about retail roles, sales roles, call centre roles, etc. Large companies are also fond of posting their open roles on their websites and asking candidates to apply on line. This may or may not get you noticed and certainly wouldn’t if you are not the ideal candidate for the role.

But, for many roles, the very best way to get noticed is through your network. Through reaching out to people. Through making people aware of who you are, what you do and, most importantly, what you can do for them and their companies. You need to be able to ‘connect the dots’ of why you are so well suited to their organizations and their roles.

But I digress (as I often do). I read an article this morning on the ‘Top 10 reasons why didn’t get the job’ and it’s as relevant as to why you didn’t even get the interview as to why you didn’t get hired. In case you missed it, here it is: http://bit.ly/2sDOHBa

When thinking about why you didn’t even get the interview. Think about the following:

  1. You are under-qualified. Yes, you. While you might feel this is the ideal role for you and you would be outstanding in it, read it carefully. Do you have most of the qualifications TODAY for this role. If not, don’t apply to this role specifically. If it’s a role you want to grow into, then try to get in front of someone at the company to bring yourself to their attention. Reach out to people in that role NOW and ask for career advice. Ask how they transitioned into that role. Do your homework. Look for people in those roles NOW and see what they have that you don’t (that’s called ‘development gaps’) then try to fill those gaps so you will be qualified for that role SOON.
  2. You are over-qualified. How can that be you ask. You have everything they want and more. Well, quite frankly, they don’t want more. And telling them you will work for half your worth won’t help. Many companies don’t want to re-train overqualified people for more junior roles. They don’t want the bad habits you might have picked up along the way. They aren’t convinced you will fit in with all of the other junior folks on the team…what with your decades of experience. If you are over-qualified and this not just a place-filler until something better comes along (another worry of employers), then you need to be able to explain that. And not in a cover letter (no one reads them anyway). Again, get in front of people. Explain why you want this job. Connect those dots as to why they should hire you…highlight the benefits of hiring you for the organization. Don’t just hit ‘send’ and expect to be called for an interview.
  3. You have your heart set on one or two companies. I just coached a young man who absolutely, positively knew that there was only one company in all of Canada for whom he wanted to work. He kept trying to get into that company and sent his resume to almost every role they had posted (hint, hint….that’s a sure-fire way NOT to get called for an interview). While you may be in love with that one company, they are not yet in love with you. Broaden your search. Understand why you love that company and look for similar attributes at other companies. Talk to people. Learn about other companies. Don’t shut down or dismiss other companies without really knowing anything about them. What is it about that company that intrigues you? Then get out from behind your computer and talk to people there. Where did they come from before they went there? What other companies can you target? Don’t ‘put all your eggs in one basket’ as the saying goes.
  4. Sloppy Resume/Cover Letter. I combined these two. Sure I understand everything is a shortcut these days and I often don’t even have a resume when I direct source someone and arrange a preliminary phone interview. But, when I do get a resume, I want it to be perfect. I want to know who you are, what you did, where you worked and what you accomplished. Your resume (and cover letter if requested) is a reflection of you. It’s the time to put your best foot forward. If you don’t spend the time to get it right, why should I entrust you with responsibility at my company? If that’s your best effort and it’s a poor effort, then you undoubtedly will not do well working for me.
  5. Unexplained Gaps on your Resume. OK, if I do post a role and screen resumes, all I have to go on is what you send me. If you applied through LinkedIn and did not attach a resume (which I always ask for), it tells me you either have a poor attention to detail or are to lazy to include one. So, I look at the summary provided by LinkedIn when you applied. If it’s not interesting, I move on. If it’s mildly interesting, I will click on your profile to learn more. Not enough there to go on? I move on to the next candidate. I’m not a mind reader. I don’t know why there are gaps on your resume. I might look for an explanation in your cover letter. Often there is no explanation. Did you get fired and take two years to find another job? Did you decide to take time off to travel the world? Were you volunteering somewhere? Were you home raising your family or caring for a family member? I know you think you will explain all that to me in an interview –but remember, you have to be appealing to me to get an interview.

The others on the list in the article include:

  • You can’t explain why you were fired. This is more related to why you didn’t get hired vs. why you didn’t get an interview. It is important to have your responses ready. You don’t want to sound rehearsed, but you need to be able to clearly articulate why you are no longer working at your last employer or why you made the changes in jobs throughout your career that you did. Practice, practice, practice.
  • You have an unstable work history. ‘Unstable’ can have different meanings for different people. Millennials may think a new job every 12 months is stable; others may not. Regardless of how many jobs you’ve had or how long you have held them, you need to be able to discuss this in an interview and have a compelling reason for making the moves you did. Of course, if all you do is submit your resume on-line, you are undoubtedly being rejected without having a reason for explaining why. If you do have an ‘unstable’ work history, networking will be your best friend. It’s the best way to circumvent the computer-screening process most companies use.
  • You’re trying to change careers. Again, it’s key to get in front of people and be able to explain why and ‘connect the dots’ as to why your background, experience and expertise is important to this new career of yours and why it is indeed transferable. Be prepared to take a step back….but hopefully not for long.
  • Unrealistic salary expectations. I hate the salary question. I ask it only to ensure we are all talking about the same thing. At the end of the day, however, most of the roles I fill have a range and we seldom deviate from it. When conducting a job search, know what the roles are paying, know your worth. There’s lots of information about salaries on the web. Do your homework.
  • You are annoying. Of course, if this is true, that’s a real problem. If you are annoying because you keep calling to follow up, stop it. If you are annoying because you just are, well then you need to find a company with people just like you. Someone recently told me they didn’t get the job because the hiring manager thought he was not really interested in the role. Being too laid back can be a problem. If you have a laid-back attitude, pump up the adrenaline and look interested. Show interest. Be enthusiastic. And don’t forget to ask questions. This one man had no questions to ask because he ‘knew it all.’ And no one likes a ‘know it all.’

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