Behold, the dreaded email that just cannonballed rudely into your inbox: “We’ve reviewed your background and experience and have decided to proceed with other candidates who meet our needs more closely at this time.” The disappointment can crash over you like a wave upon reading these words. Professional rejection is one of the worst feelings a person can experience while job hunting. Yet we have all been there at one point or another. And likely, the first rejection won’t be the last. Once the initial blow has settled, you will probably start to wonder what it is that these “other candidates” have that you don’t. At the risk of sounding annoyingly optimistic in this unfortunate, but unavoidable, situation, taking time to consider the reasons behind your rejection offers an opportunity to better prepare yourself for the next position you apply for. It is also entirely possible that this is an “it’s not you, it’s me” situation – you really did nail the application/interview but outside factors got in the way of sealing the deal. Let’s explore five reasons why you didn’t get the job.
1. You didn’t sell yourself
In professional situations, being confident is key to success. When you interview for a job, nerves are expected, but if you allow them to take over and mask your great experiences, your potential employer will take note.
If things didn’t go as well as you’d hoped during your interview, remember that even the most seasoned professionals can get flustered in these situations. You may have made a common error that made the difference between the hiring manager moving forward with you. Did you dress appropriately? Were you on time and polite to everyone you met? Did you do your research on the company beforehand? Proper preparation, body language, and confidence are key to nailing the interview. And above all, don’t forget to send a follow-up email or letter shortly after the interview.
The art of talking yourself up without coming off as cocky or above-it-all is one worth working on for future interviews. If there was ever a time to show off your skills and accomplishments, this is it! You can bet that the candidate who does end up landing the position will present themselves confidently and graciously.
2. You’re not qualified
You may fit an organization’s culture and bring a positive attitude and dynamite work ethic. At the end of the day, if you do not meet the job’s qualifications, you are probably not going to be hired for the position. If this is the case, there’s no need to beat yourself up—it’s nothing personal, there are simply other candidates that could better perform the job. If you’ve lost out on your dream job, take this as an opportunity to work on building up your skills and experience so that next time there is an opening, you meet the qualifications.
3. You didn’t tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific role
You don’t have to redo your entire resume/cover letter every time you apply for a job. Although, it is vital to make sure you are targeting your application materials to the specific skills and job description provided for the position you’re applying for. Showcase all of the concrete reasons you would be the right fit for the role in order to be seriously considered for a new position. Keeping your skills and experience too general won’t be enough to “wow” a hiring manager. It’s well worth it to take some time to adjust your language and ensure you are highlighting your most relevant skills and experience. For more advice on this, check out our useful guide on resume do’s and don’ts.
4. Your salary requirements are too high
It can be tricky to navigate how to answer when a job application asks about your salary requirements. List a number too low, and you may undersell yourself and set yourself up for compensation frustration. Go too high, and organizations may quickly toss your application into the “no” pile—listing a salary outside the range of what the company is hoping to provide may have been the factor that took you out of the running.
The best way to approach a salary requirement question is to make sure you have done your research on your market value and the salaries of similar roles ahead of time. This way, you can go in with a justifiable number or range already in mind. Don’t let fear convince you to put a number lower than what you feel you are worth. It’s a good idea to write something like “flexible” next to the number; even if it is higher than what the company is willing to spend, they know there is room for negotiation.
5. The company decided to hold off on hiring
This one really takes you off the hook, because there’s probably nothing you could have done to avoid it. Sometimes, due to budget or internal organizational shifts, companies will decide not to move forward with hiring for a role. While it’s unfortunate, it happens so try not to feel discouraged.
If you didn’t receive the job you wanted, give yourself time to feel the disappointment. After all, this is a difficult experience that can hurt your self-esteem. But don’t let this situation be for nothing. Consider all aspects of the job application process to figure out where you could improve for next time. Reflect on when you pressed send on your initial application to your interview and post-interview follow-up.
Working with a recruiter can be an excellent way to get help with your resume and cover letter. You’ll even have the chance to brush up on your interviewing skills. We encourage you to apply to one of the open opportunities on our website to get connected with a Career Group Companies recruiter who can help you land your dream job.