Behold, the dreaded email that just rudely cannonballed into your inbox:
“We’ve reviewed your background and experience and have decided to proceed with another candidate who meets our needs more closely at this time.”
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, and you really did nail the job interview, but outside factors got in the way of sealing the deal.
Let’s explore some of the reasons why a company might decide not to move forward with you.
Reason #1: You didn’t sell yourself.
In professional situations, being confident is the key to success. Nerves are to be expected when interviewing for a job, but if you allow them to take over and mask the great experience and professional accomplishments you’ve made, 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.
Reason #2: You’re not qualified.
You could be an excellent culture fit with a positive attitude and a dynamite work ethic, but 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.
Reason #3: You didn’t tailor your résumé and cover letter to the specific role.
You don’t have to redo your entire résumé and cover letter every time you apply for a job, but 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. To be seriously considered or (hopefully) hired in a new position, you need to showcase all of the concrete reasons you would be the right fit for the role.
Keeping your skills and experience too general, won’t be enough to “wow” a hiring manager, so 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 dos and don’ts.
Reason #4: Your salary requirements are too high.
It can be tricky to navigate how to answer when a job application or hiring manager asks what your salary requirements are for a role. List a number too low, and you may undersell yourself and set yourself up for compensation frustration. Go too high, and your application may be quickly tossed 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 so that even if it is higher than what the company is willing to spend, they know there is room for negotiation.
Reason #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 unfortunate, it happens. Try not to get discouraged.
It’s important to give yourself some time to feel the disappointment of not getting a job you wanted—after all, this is a difficult experience that can be a blow to 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, from pressing send on your initial application to nailing your interview and post-interview follow-up.
This story was submitted by Career Group Companies.
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This story was originally published on December 14, 2019, and has since been updated.
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