You’ve been applying like crazy to jobs you know you’re qualified for. You’d be a perfect fit at each of these companies. You’ve stayed persistent and positive. Someone has to make a job offer soon, right?
But over and over, when you follow up, you hear devastating news: The position was offered to someone else. Or even worse, you don’t hear anything back at all. You’re crushed, confused and lost. You’ve spent hours perfecting your resume and writing cover letters, but nothing seems to give.
Don’t give up hope just yet. Here are a few reasons your application might have gotten overlooked, and what you can do to make sure your next one stands out.
Reason 1: Your snoozy-worthy application got trashed — or overlooked completely
Employers go through stacks and stacks of resumes and cover letters at a time. This isn’t news. Yet you still write a grade-A boring cover letter. You haven’t made your resume bullets crystal clear and nothing about you other than your master’s degree or Ph.D stands out.
Or, you perceive your degree is enough for the job. That perception isn’t in line with reality (a.k.a. the job description and the skills required to complete the job). It’s time to get serious about self-evaluation.
Step it up. If you don’t have a professional portfolio, get one now. If you do have one, maybe it’s your online presence that’s putting them off. What!? They look at that? Uh… yeah! This is the age of the Internet.
Show your creativity, and share your voice. Go that extra mile and send in a pre-interview screening of yourself on video with your cover letter, resume and your online portfolio.
To stand out, show off your personality and always remember your application should be tailored towards the company you’re applying for. A less qualified candidate sometimes beats out an overqualified one because they’re more eager and have taken the time to move beyond the basic requirements in their application.
To learn from your past applications, ask the human resource manager what separated you from the applicant who got the job. You may discover that the guy or gal was less qualified on paper, but still had one up on you. See what they did better, and see how you can do the same in your next job application.
Reason 2: You haven’t told the company what you can do for them
Employers are looking for the next great leader. And you aren’t it — or, you haven’t showed to them that you could be it. You haven’t proven you’re the one with that edge.
Just like individuals, companies have short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. To best understand the long-term goals of any company, start with their mission statement. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you’ll need to do to help them reach these goals.
When you’ve created a solid outline for what you think they’ll need as employers, present yourself as the answer for both the here and now and for the future. Convey your desire to be there long-term and for a specific reason. Address this during your interview. If they don’t bring it up, make sure you do.
It’s much easier to stay confident, be genuine and smile your way through the interview when you’ve gone above and beyond to present yourself as the best long-term asset to the company. It also sets the tone that you will deliver high quality work when you land the job.
Reason 3: You’re nothing but a list of boring skills
Most employers look for something more besides the baseline skills required to do the job. You may think it’s unfair, but life isn’t fair.
To help a company succeed at great heights, you’ll need a lot more than just a highly specialized skill.
Check out the results of a recent study by Harris Interactive, which polled 2,076 hiring managers and human resource professionals from across multiple industries. They were asked if they had two equally qualified candidates, which factors would make them more likely to consider one over the other. This is who they’d be more likely to chose:
- The candidate with the better sense of humor: 27 percent
- The candidate who is involved in his or her community: 26 percent
- The better-dressed candidate: 22 percent
- The candidate they had more in common with: 21 percent
- The more physically fit candidate: 13 percent
- The candidate who is more on top of current affairs and pop culture: 8 percent
- The candidate who is more active on social media: 7 percent
- The candidate who is knowledgeable about sports: 4 percent
Even though these factors have nothing to do with the actual job skills, employers care about them. Some more than others, but all of them stand as the variables symbolizing the obstacles standing in your way from professional job searcher to professional [enter your desired job title here].
How you present your application gets you the interview, but how you sell yourself in your interview is what lands you the job. Rounding out your character by mastering these variable elements may make or break your next interview.
Even if you’d made all of the mistakes listed above, the best lessons are learned from your failures. The successful often reach success because they were willing to strive longer and outlast the competition, while improving themselves every step of the way.