Hired

Potential Reasons You’re Not Getting Hired

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In today’s job market, it’s very easy to become frustrated by the lack of response to your resume or application submissions. The fact is there is about a 6:1 ratio of job applicants for each available position. What does this mean? It means you have to stand out, head and shoulders, above the rest of the applicants.

Potential Reasons You’re Not Getting Hired

It means you have to have the perfect resume and cover letter, tailored for each position that you apply for, that easily shows that you have the background (or potential) for the position. Let’s assume you have all of that, and you’re still not getting calls. There may be some reasons why you’re not getting hired:

You Have Not Fully Grasped The Reality

…of today’s market and the massive economic upheaval that is occurring. All of the fancy degrees, past experience, and so on just isn’t enough today. These things DO matter – it’s just the applicant pool is full of people with these backgrounds. Thus, the competition is much more stiff. Nothing in this job market will come easily. Some positions will come more easily than others, but they may be positions for which you feel you’re overqualified. The “gem” positions will typically take much longer and be harder to get.

You Don’t Apply

…because you don’t like to be rejected, and if you don’t apply, you can’t be rejected. This is circular logic, and self-fulfilling (and self-defeating) behavior. You don’t know until you try. In the marathon that is today’s job search, you’re going to be rejected until you’re not. It’s a fact of life. We’ve all been there. It’s not personal; it’s just business.

It is unlikely this reflects on you as a person (unless you had an interview and you totally bombed – in that case, instead of focusing on the negative, learn from the experience, and go forward better prepared the next time). You may have been a great fit for some positions – someone else may have just fit a little bit better. In an employer’s market, this happens. When the tide changes, and it will, this will be less of an issue.

You Don’t Take Your Job Search Seriously

If you’re unemployed (or underemployed), your job search should be at least 30-40 hours per week – responding to ads (low value return, but necessary), resume and cover letter customization, and networking, networking, networking (did I mention “networking”?).  If you are employed and are looking for a new gig on the sly, at least 10-20 hours per week would be appropriate. Watching daytime television and hanging out with friends is not likely to get you a new position. Looking for a job is a job. Treat it like one.

What’s listed above falls into the category of “bad habits” for lack of a better label. These habits are very easy to break – with focus and discipline. By getting into good habits, your position search should be that much faster and more fruitful. However, that totally depends on you.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Michael Trust

Michael Trust is the principal of Trustworthy Coaching and brings over twenty years of business, Human Resources management, and coaching experience to you when you engage his services as a coach.

13 comments

  1. Wow, really? This article isn’t terribly insightful I hate to say. Most of the reasons listed here, while certainly relevant in most situations, were part of the lecture graduating seniors slept through in college.

    I refuse to acknowledge that most of the reasons people are getting hired are purely the fault of the applicant. I find the most frustrating part is dealing with recruiters who are overtasked and/or under-educated in the field for which they’re recruiting for. More times than not, I find myself increasingly frustrated by simple things that could make the recruitment and hiring process go smoother for everyone.

    A. We [usually] put a lot of work into our resumes, so please read them. I love the calls from recruiters that ask “So, how long have you developed applications in C++?”. Nowhere on my resume does “C++” appear and if it did, they would have answered their own question. If I had a nickel…

    B. Stop blasting job listings to everyone and their brother. An email I received yesterday listed the latest jobs in Houston, TX. Well good for you, but I live in Ohio. I am not moving’ and I didn’t see anything about relocation, so these must remote work positions, right? My email block list is enormous (approaching 1000 blocked addresses and growing). Even still, I get about 15+ emails and phone calls a day with fantastic “opportunities” like these. All I can say is take time to learn the geography of the job you’re recruiting for, because if you can’t be bothered to at least to that, then we can’t be bothered to read your listings.

    C. Stop listing jobs on Taleo, Brassring and other related sites. Applying for jobs on sites like these is an exercise in futility. Uploading your resume then having to re-type/paste it in these little text fields would cause Gandhi to go postal. Most sites now have good scripts to parse resumes so the user can review and correct rather than recreate their employment history. Monster, Dice and CareerBuilder are wonderful examples of how this is done right.

    Please consider phone screens and online skill assessments as a way to “thin the herd”. I’ve been on interviews that lasted literally minutes because they were so anxious to talk to me that we never discussed salary before the interview. Also please consider consolidating as much of the interview into a single visit as possible – some of us don’t have the ability to return two and three times to interview. While this may seem trivial to you, some of work in small teams where time off might be hard to come by. Remember, we’re still employed elsewhere and we’re not yours yet.

  2. Have you guys seen filling an application or entering certain sites urges you to put some tilted words in designated boxes? Have you thought, what is going on? Who are those “Aliens” performing those online tasks???Well, I personally encounter a lot of intelligent entities online! I have played games with unbeatable opponents, only to figure out they are computers! My point is: People hire computers & progs and put the add , just for the formality of the matter! I have never seen any article about this “big issue” but I just think it is true. I mean if they can hire online from any part of the world for cheap labor, why not hiring progs & computers for less? Or perhaps robots? Good luck all

  3. Nice article, However I have beel looking for a job for two years now. I have gone back to school and got cerfified in Fiber Optics. I must applied to over 200 companies online and had 50 or more interviews. All I get back for the hiring manager is, “Thank You” I strongly feel that these companies are only putting out job add’s is because it’s the law. Many companies are down sizing these day’s, Doing more work with less people and the one’s they do have make them work to the bone. I am starting to belive that the ONLY way to get back to work, Is to start your own business, But what???? Good Luck to all of you!!!

  4. Beth Campbell Duke

    Great post, Michael – especially since it’s sparked such discussion. I remind job hunters that 80% of jobs are never posted (the stat ranges from 65-85% – so I use the 80/20 rule.) Your personal marketing materials and strategies MUST be built on this reality – and this post clearly outlines the frustrating outcomes when you’re using ‘old school’ job hunting techniques.

    We’re no longer in a world where we find one long-term, for-life job – and knowing how to source work opportunities is truly a 21st century life-skill! (And this includes dealing with the inevitable string of ‘no’s. Sadly, they’re still a reality!)

    • Regarding the jobs that are not advertised, that is where my “gem” position is. Do you think the ‘cold call’ resume is a way to sniff out these jobs? I want a very specific job that I never see advertised, so I would like to hand deliver or mail my CV to target companies. Is that a good course of action? Do you have any recommendations?

  5. I don’t know, in 2012, I think I filled out something like about 200 online applications, sent resumes, made phone calls, and generally felt like I was exercising due diligence in keeping with the parameters of the requirements of my state’s unemployment program, and I came up empty-handed, save for a set-up-to-fail stint at a local telephone customer service boiler room to remain nameless, and because I didn’t ‘plug in’ with that non-professional, high-noise environment, they dumped me off their unemployment program.

    I think there’s more that goes on than is generally spoken about in HR-land, I think some employers are downright dishonest, others have mobbish aspects to their operations, because the businesses have generally gone crooked in various ways, and the people running the places like things just the way they are, and they hire their buddies for the most part.

    Job ads are…one way of getting hired, but far from the only way, and probably not the best way. If you stop and think about what I said in the last paragraph, the reason they’re advertising is because they’ve exhausted their talent and connections pool, and/or they have a job that no one wants, and that’s what’s getting advertised, or, OR, they are posting the listings pro-forma, to keep up appearances, and putting the requirements deliberately above the qualifications that pretty much anyone would have, walking in the door, except maybe brother Harold, who just by coincidence, mind you, fits all those qualifications to a ‘T’, and the job ad may well have been specifically tailored TO his qualifications, such as they might be.

    But, you can speculate all day long about what kind of poker game you might be up against, and you can apply ’til you give yourself carpal tunnel, but unless you somehow manage to break into those kinds of networks, you’re an outsider, and not likely to get an interview, much less hired. It kind of depends on how big your area is, and how persistent you are.

    In the course of the modern job search, you’re going to have to master some basic skills, one of those being able to take a ‘no’, smile, and be on your way. It’s just when you never even get to talk to anybody to begin with, that can get a little disheartening.

    Also, don’t expect employers, or potential employers, to be more than a thin veneer. Underneath all that is people, and if you don’t understand people, well, you’re going to be a while getting hired.

    Reputation: Sometimes, people get fired and get sent packing and looking for new work on account they don’t have a very good reputation. Managers might not want ANYone that has any kind of criminal background. They might not want anyone that doesn’t play golf. If you’re not a good ‘fit’ for their culture, well, don’t expect an interview, because they’re not required to give you one. Cronyism’s out there, as is flat-out discrimination. It’s ugly, but it’s real.

    Social games: If you’ve watched TV in the last 5 years, then you’re generally aware of the media offerings floating around out there, like Survivor, and other behavioral psychology ‘reality’ shows. Managers and HR reps and just regular people watch that stuff, too, and might be looking to try out their tele-wisdom on you in the course of an interview. If, at any time during such an interview it turns out you might be a little smarter than they are, they will probably feel threatened by that, and not give you the job.

    People can be funny, but as a jobseeker, especially if you’re financially behind the ‘8’ ball as many jobseekers are, generally, the joke’s on you. Ha, ha. Well, not.

    People in positions of power over others, such as hiring managers, love to play games. It just gets tiring, after a while.

    Skillset: If you’re coming up empty-handed in job-search land, might be time to look in the mirror. What can you really do, honestly? You can be dressed to the ‘9’s, be 100% on your best behavior, and your resume can speak glowingly, but if you’re misreprsenting yourself, or you just plain don’t have any marketable skills, where’s all of this really going to go, for you? Nowhere. If your skills aren’t up to snuff, if you’re not relevant to the job marketplace, if you’re pretending you can do stuff but you can’t, your employment future is probably pretty dim. Get wise, get trained, get skilled, and get yourself hired. 1,2,3,4. That is, IF there’s any openings out there.

    Remember, the object of the game is to pull down that 40 hours a week worth of rent money. You may have to settle for less-than-optimal. You may end up with nothing at all. Be consistent, be tenacious, and be pro-active about contacting people, and if/when you do get discouraged, don’t be afraid to give yourself a little break. Just don’t quit and give up completely, because if you cop that attitude, people can smell it from a mile away, and at that point, you’re guaranteed not to get hired. They probably fired someone carrying that attitude last week, hence the job listing.

    Finally: Consider working for yourself, especially if you have several years’ worth of experience being someone else’s employee. It might be time. Your ‘job’ might not be on the job board, at all. A basic business license can be had in some localities, for as little as a hundred bucks, maybe slightly more, but really, that’s about all there is to it. Are you good enough to work for/by yourself? Maybe it’s time to find out, and ditch the ‘yes, boss’ routine completely. Happy hunting!

    • Well said and I have been out of work 2 years next week. I am burnt out from 30 hours of looking for jobs and attending events just make a simple connection.

  6. Michael you touched on this in several of your comments. To many applicants do not take the interviewing aspect of the hiring process as seriously as they should. Their mind set is “they are going to ask about me, and what I’ve done so I don’t need to prepare.”

    Wrong, wrong and wrong. No ace salesman would wing it in making a presentation to an important client; no star motivational speaker would give a speech without knowing as much as possible about their audience; and you would prepare and prepare some more if you were giving a presentation to the executive board on a pet project that could be a career changer.

    You can’t normally get a job without passing the interview hurdle yet too may job hunters don’t start their preparation until they have an interview scheduled. Often it’s way too late, life intervenes and they show up unprepared. It shows and they don’t get the job.

    Bottom line: work in your interview preparation every day, do mock interviews (tape them and have someone you trust critique your performance), have the basics down cold (dress, etiquette, research of the job and the employer). All the interview preparation builds confidence which is a key component to starring in the job interview.

  7. Hi Michael, thanks for this post! It really is true that you have to take your job search seriously and treat it like a full-time job. The job hunt is not simply about applying and then sitting back and waiting to hear. You have to be proactive. That also goes into your point about taking chance is your job search and not being afraid of rejection. It is likely that you’re going to be turned away by some positions, but you can’t let that stop you. You never know what could turn out to be the best opportunity for you.

  8. Thank you for your comments. In general, a degree is *never* officially required for a job; in fact, requiring one in most cases violates the Uniform Guidelines on Selection, the US Government's reference document when looking at discrimination in hiring claims. In general, only positions that require a license, and where that license requires a degree (e.g.: JD/lawyer, MD/doctor, BS/MS/Engineer, etc.) can a degree be officially required. In reality, however, degrees are used as a screening tool because many feel that they show the ability to see a project through, demonstrate commitment, etc. and that they show some level of well rounded knoweldge and writing ability. It's often not true, but that's the perception. The online systems are terrible, and while they may butcher your resume, you can still customize it and then convert it into a format that's “applicant tracking system friendly”. Michael Trust

  9. What I find frustrating is to go to the trouble of customizing my resume and cover letter for each position only to have the online application tool butcher it into their HR system – I'm getting filtered out/disqualified because of these automated systems. I'm wasting my time. Even though I know I'm qualified to do the work based on actual experience (I research and target carefully before applying), I lack a degree so an HR rep will not touch my resume. This was not really a problem in the past because fewer online filtering systems were used. However, I've held several jobs that 'required' a degree. How did I do it? This is where networking and getting directly to the hiring manager is so important. In other words, you must avoid the HR department until you are passed to them by the hiring manager. This was the case with my last job – I knew someone who worked at the company, passed my resume directly to him and he passed it to the hiring manager – totally bypassing HR until it was time to check my references, etc., so I know it works. I hope this tip helps a few folks out there!

    • Thank you for your comments. In general, a degree is *never* officially required for a job; in fact, requiring one in most cases violates the Uniform Guidelines on Selection, the US Government's reference document when looking at discrimination in hiring claims. In general, only positions that require a license, and where that license requires a degree (e.g.: JD/lawyer, MD/doctor, BS/MS/Engineer, etc.) can a degree be officially required. In reality, however, degrees are used as a screening tool because many feel that they show the ability to see a project through, demonstrate commitment, etc. and that they show some level of well rounded knoweldge and writing ability. It's often not true, but that's the perception. The online systems are terrible, and while they may butcher your resume, you can still customize it and then convert it into a format that's “applicant tracking system friendly”. Michael Trust

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