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It’s always disappointing, sometimes devastating, when you don’t get the job. Everyone wants to get an offer even if it’s not their dream job. Sometimes knowing the reason why is easy. You didn’t have most of the “must haves” but figured you’d apply anyway. It might be that you and the hiring manager just didn’t click. In your gut you knew you weren’t moving forward with that employer.
It’s more frustrating when you haven’t a clue.
The truth is in most cases you’ll never know why. One of the reasons you get vague, if any, reasons from HR is because companies are concerned about litigation. In late 2012, employers were put on notice by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that “discrimination in hiring practices” would be one of its top priorities for the next three years, according to the The Wall Street Journal. This is one of the main reasons why companies are reluctant to give candidates any specific feedback.
So what can a jobseeker do? Think back and try to be objective.
While something may stand out in hindsight the reality is that you may never know for sure. But, there’s no reason you can’t go into the hiring process stronger the next time. Here are six common reasons why candidates don’t get hired.
There was too much Me, Me, Me.
Of course you need to sell yourself to the employer. Part of that is telling them all about your skills and accomplishments. You need to show that you are excited and enthusiastic too. But, don’t spend all your time focusing on how great you are – essentially me, me, me – make sure you talk about how your experience can benefit the employer. How can you solve his or her problems?
Recruiters and hiring managers often talk about candidates who talk themselves out of a job. Plan your responses to common interview questions so you can keep your answers clear and concise. Don’t be the candidate who talks so much he doesn’t let the interviewer get a word in edgewise. If the hiring manager’s eyes begin to glaze over it’s probably the beginning of the end for you.
You badmouthed your current or past employer.
Even if your boss is the devil incarnate bite your tongue. Throwing your current company under the bus or badmouthing your boss is a big turnoff to hiring managers. It makes them wonder what you’ll be saying about your coworkers or, maybe even worse, about them. Being negative during the hiring process is a red-flag. It makes employers think “Who wants to work with that person?”
They found something they didn’t like on online.
The first thing most recruiters do after looking at your resume is to check you out online. LinkedIn is likely the first stop, followed by other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Many will even do a Google search to see what surfaces. Besides looking for inconstancies in your work experience, they’re trying to learn something about who you are. Are you constantly complaining about everything or posting about walking a 5K for charity? You may not think it makes a difference but it does.
You were a job-hopper.
Today many employers consider job-hopping more acceptable, particularly for younger workers. Some employers even expect it. Still, while job-hopping may no longer be the kiss of death there are still a significant number of employers who won’t consider someone who has moved often. So if you have short stints at various companies on your resume you may be out of the running.
They didn’t feel you were the right person.
In the end interviewers are human. They may think you are too young or too old to fit with the company culture. You may remind them of someone they don’t like. Fair or not likeability is part of the hiring process. Things that may seem small like your smile, having a strong handshake, making eye contact, active listening, and being friendly can make a big difference in whether or not you get the job.
There’s no doubt that looking for a job involves a lot of rejection. There are dozens of candidates for every position and only one person gets the prize. While there are some things you can’t change, like having moved around a lot in the past, there are other things you can, like what you say about your current employer and what you post online. Do your best with everything you can control and try not to obsess about the rest. As I’ve said before, you can’t lose a job you didn’t have in the first place.