October 17, 2011 at 2:00 PM

They Didn’t Pick Me for the Job. I Must Be…

"...keep trying. It’s the only way to ultimately get what you want"

By Patty Armstrong

Where’s My Great Career?

Patty Armstrong is a career counselor and educator on a mission to help people of all ages find careers they enjoy.

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Unqualified. Too old. Too young. The wrong ethnicity. I blew the interview. They didn’t like me. These are common responses we have when we’ve applied for or interviewed for a job but didn’t get the job offer. It’s understandable that we try to come up with logical reasons for why we didn’t get the position we wanted badly or were sure we were perfect for. The employer certainly isn’t going to tell us. Yet, we want to make sense of the decision, and we want to learn from any mistakes we might have made. We might even believe that because the employer rejected us for this position, they wouldn’t want to hire us for any position, or even consider us if the same position opens up again in the future.

Rejection is very personal and hurts. We’ve hung our hopes for the future – and often our financial future – on this opportunity and can easily be crushed when we don’t get the job. But it is important for job seekers to realize that an employer’s decision not to interview or hire a candidate is usually impersonal and not a reflection of who you are or what you can do. Nor does it mean they won’t be interested or enthusiastically hire you in the future.

Before the experts in your field got a chance to see your resume, your application may have been rejected at the early stage of the process because a computer or human resources technician couldn’t find in your application or resume that you have the minimum qualifications to be considered. You might not be clear in showing your experience, or you may be thinking you’re close enough. Unfortunately, computers and human resources staff are very literal, and if they can’t recognize or find the required minimum experience or education, then as far as they’re concerned, you don’t have what’s needed and you’re relegated to the “no” pile. Nothing personal. Computers and HR people don’t know your field or how great you are. They just couldn’t find evidence you met the minimum requirements of what may have been a poorly-written job description.

If you’ve made it through the screening processes to the interview, then you are being recognized for your offered skills and abilities. While it’s no real comfort to be runner up to the job, the person who got the position may have the advantage of already working for the employer, or they’ve got more years of experience, or a higher degree, or they somehow just clicked with the hiring committee or manager. Those things don’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. So, don’t beat yourself up!

Yes, it’s disappointing. But if you really want to work at a place, keep looking for openings and opportunities to get there. Unless you’re completely deluded about your appropriateness as a candidate, Human Resources or a manager isn’t going to say “Oh, that idiot again!” when they get another application. They’ll sort you as usual, and put you in the “yes” pile for consideration if you’ve
demonstrated your case well enough, just like every other applicant. I applied to several positions where I work before the right one came up and I was hired.

Don’t get discouraged. Don’t convince yourself you’re inadequate. And keep trying. It’s the only way to ultimately get what you want.

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