Every job search process is different but there is one aspect most people would agree on – the longer the process takes, the more frustrating it is. There is constant tweaking of the way candidates go about their search, frustration from the feedback (or lack of) given by hiring managers and recruiters, and extensive time put in to find the next position.
After receiving feedback or getting rejected, many tend to analyze and analyze and analyze some more about what they could have done to get a “yes” instead of a “we decided to go with another candidate for a reason yet we are going to tell you a completely different and made up reason just because it makes the giving feedback part of our job easier.” Frustrating? Of course it is, but it also shows the importance of knowing where to look to enhance your search and your results.
To help determine what could be improved upon, keep a tracking method from the beginning of your search (a simple Excel sheet should suffice). Many candidates have the biggest complaints at the following stages.
Resume submitted but never contacted – If you have applied to 50 jobs that you are qualified for and have yet to hear from anyone, how are you supposed to kill it in the interview and show exactly how you can bring value to the company?! This indicates your resume is not highlighting your value in relation to the jobs you are applying for. A strong resume with quantitative measurements and a clear value add typically gets some type of response. Resumes that are general in wording and are hard to tell what type of job somebody wants typically get archived or looked over. Quick fix: Simplify and Quantify. Simplify your overall resume to be geared towards the type of position you are pursuing. Quantify anything and everything you possibly can. “Improved company overall processes” doesn’t come across as strong as “Implemented XYZ process which reduced labor costs by 20% due to an increased focus on automation”
Rejected after a phone screen – Phone screens are typically the first true touch point between candidates and companies. They are used to have a conversation to discuss the company’s opening and the candidate’s experience and desires to see if there is alignment to continue pursuing. If you are getting stuck at the phone screen phase, there are several possible reasons why: your wants from a job and company don’t align with this company, you are not adequately describing how you would be a good fit for the discussed role, a perceived lack of interest from the company’s perspective, etc. Quick Fix: Ask questions and clarify when given the opportunity. Asking relevant questions tends to indicate interest and also gives candidates the opportunity to ask about aspects that are important to them. The questions you ask can show what your intentions, interest, and values are. Clarifying your answers to any questions can do the same so be sure the point you are making is also what is being received.
Rejected after onsite interview – This can be the most frustrating as you have put in all the work it takes to get to this point. Resume is on point, killed it on the phone screen, show up to the interview prepared to take over the world, and then…..rejected. From my experience, candidates who get rejected at this stage tend to receive feedback about lack of preparation, lacking presentation skills (if a presentation is part of the process), and a lack of perceived interest in getting the job or closing the company. “Closing the company? I’m interviewing for an accounting position not a sales one.” Ah you are but you are still selling yourself and your skills throughout the process. Quick Fix: Prepare, research, prepare, and research some more. Research the company, the people you will be interviewing with and their path to where they are, and know more than just where you are interviewing and the position title. Companies love when candidates know more about them than expected. Prepare and practice your presentation if giving one, practice going over common interview questions, and prepare a close for when your time on site is finishing up. The first impression is extremely important but the last impression can be even more.
Clearly this doesn’t cover every possible solution or interaction candidates come across but does cover several areas where I have seen the most trouble. If you have been rejected, continue to stay positive. One rejection is just that, one rejection. The next yes is closer than it was yesterday and if candidates put an added focus on where they are falling out of the process, that yes will come sooner rather than later.