Stumped About Why You Didn’t Get Hired? | Here’s the Back Story

To many job candidates, the all important hiring decision is a mystery. More often than not hiring managers don’t say much about the factors they considered. In January 2010, I wrote this post to lift the veil a bit, clear the air, and add some motivation.

Myth: The job candidate who flat out “nails” the interview gets the job.

Truth: The decision about who gets the job is, well, complicated. 

For all the years that I was a senior manager at a Fortune 500, every time I didn’t select internal candidates who thought they had the “right stuff,” I was questioned. Actually grilled!

Filling job vacancies from an internal or external candidate pool isn’t as simple as having an opening, interviewing candidates, and picking one. It would be nice if all business decision-making were linear, but it’s not.

It’s not always about you!

A lot goes on behind the scenes in the hiring process and it’s different in every organization.  (I’m not here to judge either the ethics or the efficacy of those processes.)

It’s just important that, as candidates, we understand that these are business decisions, not personal ones.

Typical reasons why candidates aren’t selected

The hiring manager knew the person s/he wanted from the outset. 

Many companies have a mandated hiring process whenever there’s a vacancy. The preferred candidate participates in the process along with others, although his/her selection may be a foregone conclusion.

That may sound unfair, but if you are a competing candidate, it still gives you a platform for showing your stuff. How you perform in the interview will be remembered and can one day work in your favor.

The company wants to develop a high potential employee or add diversity. 

All companies need to build a bench so they can fill sensitive positions down the road. They look for candidates who have the potential to take on increasing responsibilities or need to broaden their company knowledge.

For those companies that have been slow to incorporate diversity into their workforce and their management ranks, vacancies are an opportunity to remedy that. In both cases, these are business best practices that can add needed capabilities.

Once again, simply by being a participant in the candidate pool, you gain important visibility.

You don’t complement the “chemistry” of the hiring manager’s work group.

The ability of people to work effectively together is important to every hiring manager. Any time a new person is added to the mix, the “chemistry” of the group changes. You may have great capabilities, but if your work style and personality don’t “fit” well within the team, then you will likely not get selected.

The hiring manager doesn’t feel comfortable about supervising you. 

This is a very personal thing. Hiring managers don’t get many perks. The one they do get is to hire people who will make their work life more pleasant and easier. So if there are two equally qualified candidates, they will likely say to themselves, “When I come to work on a bad day, which one of these two people do I want to deal with?” That will be the tie-breaker.

Why this is so hard to swallow. 

If these realities are frustrating to you, I understand. Remember, for you the hiring process is solely about you getting the job. For the business the decision is multifaceted. The best hiring decisions weigh the potential for the candidate to take on increasingly more complex work and then to be ready for advancement in a reasonable period of time.

The only piece of the hiring process that you control is yourself. 

Because there are so many variables contributing to the hiring decision, your best course of action is to simply do your best. Pay attention to the way the process is conducted, the questions you are asked, the responses and feedback you receive. Build on those insights.

Remember: Hiring decisions are business decisions. So don’t take them personally.Your best approach while job hunting is to:

  • Be prepared
  • Present yourself well
  • Have confidence
  • Keep at it

In time the right position under the right company circumstances will present itself, and you will be well-positioned to accept it. In the meantime, throw off your frustration and concentrate on becoming a candidate to be reckoned with!

Photo from Giulia Torra via Flickr

Suffering from Resumophobia? | A Remedy for Job Seekers

The dreaded resume! Every job seeker desperately needs one but no one wants to write one. Why? Because it’s agony. 

The irony is that we fear our resume—the very thing that is our entry ticket to the job we want. Since we resist the things we fear, we put off writing it or suffer major distress when we must. Our concern: “What if my resume isn’t good enough!” 

Our “resumophobia” has three main causes: 

  • Frustrating uncertainty about what recruiters/businesses want
  • Doubt or confusion about the value of what we’ve done
  • Lack of confidence in our ability to write it “right” 

These are legitimate and paralyzing reasons. But we cannot succumb to them. Why? Because—no resume…no interview. No interview…no chance. 

The resume is a rite of passage in nearly every job search

There are lots of great books and experts to teach you how to craft a great resume. What I’m offering are insights that will unfreeze your thinking, so you can get started. 

Your resume is packaging. 

It is not a biography, a job description, or a sales pitch. It’s your box! 

The content of a good resume showcases concrete results that you have achieved in other jobs. It contains the products (results) that you created. So when you write your resume, make sure it is about important outcomes you delivered. Not everything you ever did—just the most significant results.

 Your resume is a picture. 

A resume is art and you want the viewer to be absorbed by yours. 

Great artists control the eye of the viewer. Great resumes do that too. The screener’s first scan needs to spot something of interest. That means you need to: 

  • Position important facts where the eye falls

Don’t make screeners struggle to find what they’re looking for. When they come to your resume, they will scan down the middle. So make sure that their eyes will land on the words, job titles, and achievements they are looking for. Highlight in bold the words that link what you accomplished to the duties listed in the job posting. 

  • Create white space so the eye has relief. 

Wading through resumes is visually exhausting. White space is relief so use a font size that isn’t too small. Avoid dense copy since it sends the message that you couldn’t identify your priority accomplishments and don’t know how to write concisely. Use bullets, avoid paragraphs. 

  • Include interesting information that keeps the eye reading. 

Everyone brings their own uniqueness to their jobs. Capturing that in a resume differentiates us from other candidates. So be sure to mention a fresh approach you may have taken to a routine work process or to an initiative that you led.

The sections called “interests,” “activities,” and “affiliations” are your big finish. Interesting tidbits there often turn out to be the “big opening” during an interview. 

Your resume is your voice. 

The tone of your written words becomes the sound of your voice. That’s the only glimpse of your personality that the screener will get from your resume. When your words are clean and clear, precise and easy, they create a sense of your nature, your confidence, and your approach to work. 

Please remember: 

  • The screener is your audience
  • Your purpose is to provide an honest, factual story about your work life 

If resume writing still intimidates you, if you are having a difficult time sorting through all that you have done, or if you have some unfortunate “wrinkles” in your work history, investing in some professional assistance may be in order. 

The bottom line is that it’s always a good idea to have an up-to-date resume on file, especially in these times. Enough said! 

Do you have a specific question about resumes that you’d like discussed? I’m sure you’ll get some help here. 

Stumped About Why You Didn’t Get Hired? | Here’s the Back Story

Myth: The job candidate who flat out “nails” the interview gets the job.

Truth: The decision about who gets the job is, well, complicated. 

For all the years that I was a senior manager at a Fortune 500, every time I didn’t select a candidate who thought they had the “right stuff,” I was questioned. Actually grilled! 

Filling job vacancies isn’t as simple as having an opening, interviewing candidates, and picking one. It would be nice if all business decision-making was linear, but it’s not.

It’s not always about you!        

A lot goes on behind the scenes in the hiring process and it’s different in every organization. It’s not for me to judge the ethics or the efficacy of those processes.

It’s just important that, as candidates, we understand that these are business decisions, not personal ones. 

Typical reasons why candidates aren’t selected 

The hiring manager knew the person s/he wanted from the outset. 

Many companies have a mandated hiring process whenever there’s a vacancy. The preferred candidate participates in the process along with others, although his/her selection may be a foregone conclusion. 

That may sound unfair, but if you are a competing candidate, it still gives you a platform for showing your stuff. How you perform will be remembered and can one day work in your favor. 

The company wants to develop a high potential employee or expand diversity. 

All companies need to build a bench so they can fill sensitive positions down the road. They look for candidates who have the potential to take on increasing responsibilities or need to broaden their company knowledge. 

For those companies that have been slow to add diversity to their workforce and to their management ranks, vacancies are an opportunity to remedy that. In both cases, these are business best practice decisions. 

Once again, by being in the candidate pool, you gain important visibility. 

You don’t complement the “chemistry” of the hiring manager’s work group. 

The ability of people to work effectively together is important to every hiring manager. Any time a new person is added to the mix, the “chemistry” of the group changes. You may have great capabilities, but if your work style and personality don’t “fit” well with that bunch, then you will likely not get selected.   

The hiring manager doesn’t feel comfortable about supervising you. 

This is a very personal thing. Hiring managers don’t get many perks. The one they do get is to hire people who will make their work life more pleasant and easier. So if there are two equally qualified candidates, they will likely say to themselves, “When I come to work on a bad day, which one of these two people do I want to deal with?” That will be the tie breaker. 

Why this is so hard to swallow. 

If these realities are frustrating to you, I understand. Remember, for you the hiring process is linear. For the business the process may be linear, but the decision isn’t. 

The only piece of the hiring process that you control is yourself. 

Because there are so many variables contributing to the choice, why over-stress yourself in the process? It’s business. So, don’t take it personally. Your best approach while job hunting is to: 

  • Be prepared
  • Present yourself well
  • Have confidence
  • Keep at it

 In time the right position under the right company circumstances will present itself, and you will be well-positioned to accept it. In the meantime, throw off your frustration and concentrate on becoming a candidate to be reckoned with! 

Any questions or experiences to share about the hiring process? I’ll be happy to weigh in.