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7 Reasons You Didn’t Land the Job

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You’re feeling lucky. You found an opening for a job you would love to have, your resume made it through screening, and you had a decent interview—but somehow you still received a rejection email. What went wrong?

With the national unemployment rate resting at an uneasy 7.9 percent, it’s safe to say the job climate is highly competitive. In fact, 29 percent of candidates never even hear back from a hiring manager after applying for a position. While you may have made it far in the hiring process, there are many reasons you weren’t considered to be a perfect match.

Here are seven common reasons you didn’t land the job:

1. Your qualifications didn’t quite match up.

While you may have felt you had the necessary skills and experiences to match you to the position, your potential employer didn’t feel the same way. This error is usually due to job seekers misunderstanding what an employer is looking for, or the simple misjudgment of their own qualifications. Just because you didn’t get the job doesn’t always mean you were under-qualified—there’s also the possibility you were overqualified, or just altogether an inappropriate fit with regard to the company.

In the future, consider spending a significant amount of time matching your qualifications and skills with those required for the position. If there isn’t a close fit, it might be best to refrain from applying.

2. You don’t look good on paper.

You may have the exact qualifications for a position, but if you can’t present them to your potential employer, it’s unlikely you’ll be hired. Aside from grammatical errors on your cover letter and resume, it’s also important to look at formatting, relevancy, and whether you’ve gone above and beyond to stand out. If your resume and cover letter are generic and vague, don’t expect to be hired. Put the time and energy into creating a customized cover letter and resume for every position you apply for, and make sure you spend time showcasing why you’d make a better fit above other candidates.

3. Your interviewing skills held you back.

Just because you answered every question you were asked doesn’t necessarily mean you wooed the hiring manager. Think back to your interview… Were you enthusiastic, positive, and did you showcase a personable depth to your professional personality? Too many job seekers get hung up on knocking out the technical questions and miss the chance to build a connection with their interviewer. Always remember to come to an interview well-researched, practiced, and eager to showcase why you’d be an outstanding addition to the team.

4. Your overall presentation needs some work.

If you arrived late to an interview dressed in wrinkled clothing, you aren’t exactly presenting yourself as a stand-out candidate. From your resume to your face-to-face interview, presentation matters in every part of the hiring process. Attitude and body language fall into the category of presentation. Many job seekers let their search for employment get to them—they come off as negative, unenthusiastic, or uncomfortably confident. Focus on presenting yourself in a way that encompasses your unique personality traits, as well as highlights your overall togetherness.

5. You didn’t fit the culture.

Fitting into a company’s culture is a must. You may have more than enough talent to get the job done, but without the proper chemistry, it’s unlikely you’re a match. Companies seeks out individuals who share the same values as they do. During your job search, it’s crucial to understand the culture of each company you are applying at. This will help you figure out whether you’d fit in, and it will also help you tailor your resume and properly prepare for an interview.

6. You didn’t showcase your competitive advantage.

Did you go out of your way to present yourself as the best candidate for the position? It’s easy to get caught up in fitting the mold and completely miss out on an opportunity to inform the hiring manager of why you’re the best option. This should start in your cover letter and carry into your interview. While you may be able to get the job done, how can you do it better than anyone else?

7. There wasn’t actually a job in the first place.

Just because a company has an opening posted doesn’t mean it’s actually available. Many companies hire from within but are still mandated to post the opening. Other times, a potential employer may face a last-minute budget cut, with the position being completely eliminated.

Receiving a rejection is never a fun experience, but it’s important to learn from every aspect of your job search. While there are many reasons you could have slipped up, it’s also important to remember there are a lot of factors at play when it comes to hiring a new employee.

How do you cope with being turned down from a job? Tell us in the comments!


#Getting The Job Interviewing Career Advice
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Carly Heitlinger
Carly Heitlinger

I interviewed for a job once and the next day they announced that they were moving headquarters... needless to say, their needs changed dramatically! Luckily, I heard back from HR who explained the situation so I at least had some closure!

Agree! Tailoring your cover letter and resume for the position and communicating how you can do the job better than the other candidates, will give you the edge to land your job amid this competitive market.

I had multiple interviews at a company and then just never heard back from them. When a couple of friends/former coworkers told me they had the same experience at said company I felt better. But it did make me reevaluate my opinion of them.

I understand that no company is obligated to contact potential candidates after the interview, but I wish that more companies would. I think it's important for the candidate to understand why they were not extended an offer.

I interviewed for a "dream job" where I felt as though I was a shoe in for the position, and so did all of my friends, classmates, and professors. I had to contact the hiring manager directly to find out that the company had decided not to fill the job in the end.

There are many different reasons we, collectively, do not receive jobs. But, as we all know, everything works out in the end. It's all a growing experience!

Thank you for your positivity and for the reminder that everything works out in the end and that it's all a growing experience!

It really is!

While it's terribly depressing to get as far as am interview and not get the job, I'd be careful about talk yourself out of applying when you don't have 100% of the criteria. In Facebook CEO Sherly Sandberg's new book Lean In, she cites a study that women only apply for jobs only when they are 100 percent qualified, but men apply at 60 percent qualified. Also, as you said in #5, often employers are looking for a good fit in the work culture rather over someone who is 100% qualified. So you never know. Certainly make sure you are qualified but I think there is some wiggle room to prove yourself.

Also, I've had #7 happen to me! It's the worst! But I'm still staying in touch with the person who interviewed me and making sure they know I'm still interested if something becomes available. Here's hoping!

I've had the same thing happen. I think a company's behaviour during hiring says a lot about them.

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