The 6 Reasons You Didn't Get The Job
It’s tough out there right now (surprise!). There are piles and piles of resumes waiting to be reviewed, hundreds of candidates to be seen and only a handful of dream jobs out there. Maybe you’re bored out of your mind and think it’s time to start looking, maybe you’re searching and you haven’t scored an interview yet, maybe you’ve heard “no” so many times you’re starting to get discouraged. Whatever it is, you can improve a job search by knowing what not to do. Competition is at its highest right now, which means there are lots of reasons you won’t get the job. Here are only six of them.
The resume. There are two million articles out there on resumes (this isn’t really one of them). How to write them, read them, rework them, update them…and yet, there are so many people who remain totally clueless. If you didn’t get the job, this is your starting point. Take a look at what you gave your prospective employer. If they’ve got any sort of head on their shoulders, they can typically read through lies, they can read through “elaboration” and they can read where you’ve panicked and tried to insert just about anything to lengthen the word count.
Ok, here are some examples. I’m not naming organization names, but if your resume includes an award or honor that we all know you can pay for (this is typically a high school thing), it’s unfortunately not worth your printer ink. If it’s got misspellings, you are totally screwed. If you’ve had a 10-year long career and you’ve stuck it all on one page, whoa. (Yes, I’m telling you to forget what your college career counselor told you – two pages is commonplace and expected now). If you have a huge break in your resume and it’s noticeable you’ve just been sitting on your couch (i.e. not volunteering, not freelancing, not doing “stuff”), then that’s a red flag. And here’s a new one I’m starting to see more and more that makes my teeth hurt. You won’t get the job if your resume is topped off with,firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m all for cute, but we’re not hiring your spouse and don’t want to send correspondence to them. So stop that right now.
The cover letter. Do you typo often? That’s why you didn’t get the job. Or it could be that your cover letter was addressed to “to whom it may concern” (that’s another one your college counselor may have misled you on), or worse, you accidentally sent them a mass email that was addressed to a completely different company. Hey, I’ve done that one too (and guess what? I didn’t get the job). The cover letter has a lot of potential to bite you, my friends. If it’s not written specifically to that job, or well enough to get them to open the resume attachment, you will not get the job.
Have your friends, your mentor, anyone, read your cover letter before you send it out. And tailor it to each specific job opportunity. You want the company to notice you and to give you the one job they have available. So give them a cover letter that was made just for them. Here are some other great cover letter tips from ProfessionGal.
The submission. If you only submit your resumes into the big ol’ blind HR online resume submission form, you probably won’t get the job. It’s a bit like putting a pair of socks in the dryer…they disappear. And be warned, the bigger the company, the more you’re wasting your time. If you can get through that and land the job, you should buy a lottery ticket.
Now, I’m not going to dissuade you from doing this and then not provide you with a solution here, because you’ve got to it to them somehow. So here’s what I do. I read the job description. I check out what person this position reports to and then I get to Googling. Find a name, find an email and be savvy about it. Don’t be weird when you finally get a hold of them. Network and see what you can do to become more than just one more resume in that online sock-eater.
The phoner. You will not get the job if your eyeballs get bigger than your current paycheck. Or if you’ve applied for a job that completely doesn’t apply to your experience and skill set. I know it’s exciting to get that phone interview after you’ve sent out 200 resumes, trust me, I do. But if you get too gutsy and give them a ballpark salary that scares them, they will not ask you to move forward in the process. And you will not get the job. If you can wiggle around it, answer their “how much are you looking to make?” question as vaguely as possible. If you’re too low, you will leave precious cash out on the table. And if you’re too high…well, you’ll never meet them in person.
You will also not get the job if you’re blindly throwing out resumes into different industries or job roles without reason. Once they get you on the phone and you have to honestly tell them, “Well, I’ve never welded before, but it seems interesting,” you’re going to lose them. This goes back to the cover letter, because you want to have that conversation before you actually have that conversation. You have to explain to them why you want an industry change or a dramatic job level jump, and then you use the phoner to finish the sale. The phoner is to get you in the door, not to surprise attack them with someone who has no idea why they want the job.
The face-to-face interview. “So, prospective employee, what type of books do you like?” “Oh…I rarely read. And when I do, it’s a cookbook.” Umm, ok. Now, I’m not suggesting you lie here (seriously, never do that), but good grief, add some depth to yourself! Of course this varies by profession (so please don’t send me hate mail telling me that your job requires you to be serious and boring), but generally, you will shoot yourself in the foot if you don’t bring a little bit of personality to the table.
The worst interview I ever had was immediately after leaving a job that had me regularly working 12-hour days. The interview was for my dream job, to manage internal communications for a foundation started by someone you all know. I had aced the phone interview and I was ready, I knew my stuff. But right out of the gate, the hiring manager asked me what I liked to do for fun. I sat there. And sat there some more. And I had no answer. Now, if she had asked me if I would be committed to my job and would put in the hours when it really mattered (and sometimes even when it didn’t), I would have owned that. But no! Managers (if they’re good) want to know that their employees appreciate life and are willing to have a little fun. Make sure you have an answer lined up. I’ve spent the better part of five years making sure I’m ready for that question the next time I’m asked.