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Am I overqualified? Is it my age? Is it my lack of experience? I’m constantly asked by jobseekers why they weren’t hired. Often, jobseekers are told, “Thanks for your time, but you’re just not the right fit for the role.” Which I know can be frustrating and disheartening to hear, not to mention unhelpful with your future job search. And so, to offer some help, here are seven reasons why you likely didn’t get the job—reasons you can examine in order to turn your luck around so you don’t keep receiving the same response.
1. You Didn’t “Wow” the Hiring Manager with Your Resume or Cover Letter.
It’s not a secret that hiring managers are inundated with resumes. It is for this reason that your documents need to be action-driven and eye-catching in order to make you stand out from the crowd. I cannot emphasize this enough! From presenting your accomplishments to demonstrating your skills, you need to ask yourself if your resume reflects your personal brand and position you as the person needed for the job? Is your cover letter personalized and tailored to each company you’re submitting it to? If they’re not, don’t expect them to be read. It’s that simple.
2. You Were Unprepared.
It’s not enough just to know what you bring to the table (although this is certainly important); you need to know how your skills and experience are relevant to the prospective company. Did you research the company before the interview (more than just looking at the website)? Did you rehearse answers to common interview questions, including memorizing specific examples you could give to demonstrate how you performed in certain situations? Did you get directions to the interview beforehand so you knew how much time to leave yourself (factoring in potential traffic jams and other delays)? Never underestimate the importance of preparation. It could make or break your interview. Remember, you get one chance to make a first impression … take it seriously!
3. You Didn’t Have a Great Interview.
We all get nervous before interviews, and interviewers understand this. However, there are certain behaviors that will completely wreck an interview. These include rambling, fidgeting, defensive body language, and sounding like you’ve rehearsed your answers. (You do want to rehearse your answers, but only so that you remember your talking points, not so that you recite them word-for-word, like a robot!)
4. You Trashed Your Previous Employers.
Maybe your last boss was an aggressive and unsympathetic bully, and that’s why you left. An interviewer doesn’t want to hear this. An interviewer has no way of knowing whether you’re trashing a former employer because they were the worst employer in the world, or because you’re a difficult employee who will give them trouble if they hired you.
If you’re asked why you left your last job, and you’re inclined to answer in the negative, find a way to spin it that puts you in a good light. Answers like “I want to be able to fully use my skills, and I wasn’t able to do so at my previous job” or “This position would offer me the ability to exercise skills my previous job didn’t” are good ways to respond that don’t make you sound disgruntled.
5. You Didn’t Showcase Your Amazing Personality (i.e. Soft Skills).
Employers aren’t just looking for your technical qualifications; they also want to make sure you have the “soft skills” to be an effective employee. Soft skills are the personal traits and characteristics that make you a valuable employee, and the ones most employers drool over the most are: work ethic, time management, problems-solving skills, a positive attitude, good communication skills, flexibility, accountability, and the ability to be a team player. Make sure your answers to interview questions show these skills off as much as they show off your “hard skills.”
6. You Really, Truly Weren’t Qualified.
This is also simple, but one that people surprisingly miss: Don’t apply for jobs that you aren’t qualified for! Even if you’ve been unemployed for a while or are trying to cast a wider net. Don’t do it. Even if you were to get the offer, neither you nor the employer will be happy if you take a job you’re not ready for, so save everyone the time and heartache.
7. You Honestly Just Weren’t the Right Fit.
If all else doesn’t apply, then you likely fall into the category of “just not right for us at this time.” The bad news is that this can mean any number of things over which you have no control. Maybe the interviewer just “clicked” better with another candidate.
Corporate culture is big these days, and it isn’t just about your qualifications. Hiring managers want to make sure new employees will fit the office environment and get along with coworkers and bosses. Some of this can’t be helped. If a company has a laid-back, informal environment, and you’re a play-by-the-numbers person, pretending you love Casual Fridays won’t do you or the employer any good.
The good news is that when this happens, it isn’t a reflection on you as a candidate. Sometimes a job just isn’t meant to be. Try to see it less as a personal rejection and more as a relief. If you weren’t “right” for that job, then the job probably wouldn’t have been right for you, either. So get out there and keep looking for the one that will! It’s there … I promise!
A version of this post previously appeared on ChameleonResumes.com.
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