We’ve all been there: you find a role online, spend several hours carefully crafting a resume and cover letter, enter your info meticulously into a company’s applicant tracking system, hit submit, and can’t shake the feeling that your application has just fallen into a black hole. A few weeks go by and you hear nothing from the company. You find yourself asking, “Did I just imagine applying for that role?”
This situation sucks, and companies need to be more proactive about acknowledging applications and providing feedback to the candidates they reject. Doing so shows respect for the amount of time that candidates put into their applications, which gives a boost to an organization’s employer brand in the eyes of current and future applicants.
Okay, soapbox rant over.
Here’s another similar story: you land an interview, spend hours meticulously preparing and researching the company’s mission, products, near-term and long-term goals. You interview, and it goes great. And then you find out that you were unsuccessful despite the fact that you hit all the marks of job requirements and organizational fit. You can’t help but ask yourself: “Is it me?”
As a recruiter with 35 years of experience in the business, my advice to candidates who go through these kinds of situations is: don’t take it personally. There’s a whole cornucopia of reasons why individuals sometimes don’t get the job even if they are qualified, and a lot of these reasons have more to do with internal company politics and shifting business requirements than anything you, as a candidate, can control.
Of course, it’s possible that your resume needs a tune-up or your cover letter needs to be
more focused. You can always improve these aspects of the way you present yourself initially to an employer.
But the fact is, internal factors are very often the reason why things don’t work out, and the frustrating part is that such factors are completely opaque to the candidate. So, the next time you don’t get the job even though you feel like you’re a perfect fit, here are some reasons why the problem could have been the company, not you:
1. The Position’s Requirements Have Changed
Everyone knows that the pace of change within business is speeding up. As a recruiter, I’m able to see the way that jobs evolve as the search process unfolds in a way that most applicants cannot. As human resources gathers buy-in for a certain hire from more and more internal players in a company, requirements change — and unfortunately, the first-round applicants are often the last to know.
2. The Company Hired Someone Internally
This one happens all the time. Often, companies will solicit external applicants only to end up going with someone who already understands their business and is ready to move up. Internal hiring is always a factor and makes it tough to get into a new company, but it doesn’t mean you’re any less capable than the internal hire.
3. The Budget Has Changed or There’s Been an Internal Reorganization
This is more likely to happen with a job when the hiring process involves multiple interviews over a period of time. This sort of thing also happens surprisingly often: a company reorganizes, moving a hiring manager to a different department, or a company revises the hiring budget and the new role no longer exists. Such a situation is frustrating for everyone involved.
4. The Posting Doesn’t List Everything The Company Is Looking For
It’s important to recognize that, sometimes, you’re not hearing back because of the way the hiring manager or human resources department has crafted the job posting. Sometimes, job postings don’t list every skill or type of experience that will make an ideal candidate. For example, if it’s a procurement role, the company might be looking for someone who has done buying for a specific category. Or maybe the company is looking for someone with industry-specific experience. These factors don’t always make it into a posting, and that’s not your fault as a candidate!
Recruiting is a fluid business. That makes it exciting — even if it can be
I know how tough it can be to apply and not get the job, even if you feel like you’re a perfect fit. By all means, you should revise and constantly work to improve your resume, cover letter, and interviewing skills. But, at the same time, an understanding of the complex internal factors that affect hiring can help you realize what’s outside of your control. So don’t take it personally, and don’t be discouraged!