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Career Coaching for High Performers

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7 Reasons You Aren’t Getting Hired

by | May 28, 2019 | Career | 0 comments

Have you’ve been busy in the application process for a new job, sending out dozens of resumes, but you just haven’t gotten to the point where you’ve received an offer?

It’s easy to blame a tough job market or to tell yourself there’s too much competition for your industry. It can be difficult doing a little self-reflection to consider whether you may be doing something that is deterring you from getting an offer of employment or if there is something that you aren’t doing that is holding you back from getting hired.

You don’t have to tell me how stressful finding a job can be, as a military spouse relocating every few years, I’ve done a lot of starting over or reinventing myself at a new duty station. The application process and waiting game can test you mentally, but with the proper preparation and a little introspection, you can set yourself up to be successful throughout the application and interview process.

The Reasons You’re Not Getting Hired

1. Your resume doesn’t show how you meet the needs of the position or company.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to tailor your resume to the specific position you are applying for! There are many reasons for spending the extra time to highlight why you are the perfect candidate for the position, but the biggest reason is that it will help you beat screening tools that are commonly utilized in applicant tracking system software. By zeroing in on the essential skills of the position and phrasing your resume so it mirrors these desired skills, you are more likely to be ranked as a “better match” for the position in an applicant tracking system and more likely to have your resume reviewed by a recruiter.

2. You don’t sell yourself effectively.

You should have your elevator pitch ready to go at any moment, but perhaps your pitch needs some work. Your elevator pitch should be a short summary of who you are, what you do, and where you want to go. Ideally, you should have one that is about 30 seconds long to use for networking events, in waiting rooms, or at other gatherings. During the interview, you’ll be asked to tell the interviewer about yourself and your work experience. This is where you should walk the interviewer through a brief sample of your work history, making sure to highlight any experience you’ve had that aligns with the job you are interviewing for or any transferable skills that would benefit their organization. Avoid reading the job responsibilities of all of your former roles listed on your resume or focusing on jobs with only a few similarities or transferable skills to the position you are interviewing to fill.

3. You’re waiting too long to apply.

When you see a job posting, you might notice a “created date” or a window in which the position is open to receiving job applicants. This is an important detail to be mindful of in your application process. In my recruiting experience, we had several jobs or job categories that received hundreds of applicants. Recruiters do not have unlimited time to screen resumes, they may only screen 20-30 resumes or until they have pulled enough applicants they deemed qualified enough to make contact with to begin the interview process. Perhaps you are applying several weeks after the date the job was posted or in the final days of the window to accept applicants. My advice is be vigilant, searching often, and prepared at any time to send a thoughtful application in to a position that interests you. If you are more regularly checking the places you plan to apply for positions, you are more likely to be an early applicant and give yourself a better chance at getting your resume reviewed.

4. Your interview skills could use some practice.

This may be a difficult idea to wrap your head around, but maybe there is something you’re saying during the interview that may be contributing to you not getting a call back. One area that I’ve seen many candidates falter is when they are asked about why they are leaving their current position. Answering this question requires special care, as many candidates make the mistake of complaining about what went on at the previous position. While you may not be happy about leaving or had issues with previous supervisors, it is best to keep it simple and brief. Recruiters and Hiring Managers are looking for positive, upbeat people to join their teams and grumbling about previous experiences will make you seem anything but that.

5. You’re overqualified or under-qualified for the role(s) you are applying for.

If you compare your resume and skills to the job listing, how close are they to what the company is seeking? If you find yourself to be overqualified or under-qualified for a position, this is where it is important to talk about this observation in your cover letter. I can remember a specific candidate who interviewed for a position at my former company that did not have any supervisory duties after spending time at a managerial level for a few years. Initially this was a red flag for me, I thought this could be an indicator that this candidate would leave at the first opportunity to take a higher-level position elsewhere, but the candidate articulately explained that they did not enjoy the pressure that came with managing a team and preferred to not manage others and have more direct work in achieving outcomes. This candidate was hired into the role and performed well for many years. If on the other hand you lack some of the desired experience, this is an opportunity to explain your transferable skills and do your best to sell yourself into the higher-level position. Just be sure to have realistic expectations and know you are aiming high and might not always be selected given the circumstances.

6. You didn’t come to the interview dressed for success.

Candidates should always pay special attention to their appearance during the interview process. With the advances in technology, this includes any video-based interviews and in-person interviews. Be sure that your hair is clean and pulled away from your face. Your clothes should be business attire and adhere to any guidelines you’ve been given. If the recruiter says the dress code is business casual and you arrive in a three-piece suit, this may give the recruiter an odd vibe about you or indicate that you don’t follow directions. Stick with traditional business pieces, such as classic black or gray suits, a solid-colored shirt or blouse, and simple shoes (for ladies, with a two-inch heel or less.) For video-based interviews, these rules still apply, but be sure to take a look around your surroundings and anything that may be in the frame. You don’t want the interviewer to see a pile of dirty laundry behind you – aim for a well-lit area that is set in front of a space without distracting patterns behind you.

7. You have unrealistic salary expectations.

Maybe you’re not getting a call about your application because you have a figure well-above industry average listed as your desired salary. There are great tools you can use on or to find an idea of what salary range may be offered for the position you are seeking in a specific geographic location. It’s important to remember this is a range and not always what a company is authorized to offer to you. If you do your homework and have a general idea of what is realistic, based on your experience and education level for the position, you will be more prepared when the time comes to negotiate. Do your best to be flexible and creative in your negotiations, as being demanding will turn potential employers off.

Finding a job is hard and the competition can be fierce, but with preparation you can set yourself up on the best path to achieving success in your search. As always, happy job hunting!

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