Keep Getting Rejected? 3 Things to Keep in Mind

Let's not sugarcoat it: Rejection stinks. Nothing is fun about being turned down for a job opportunity. And while circumstances are often beyond your control (they went with an internal candidate, or the position wasn't filled), if you’re consistently coming in second or third during the hiring process, it's time for some self-reflection. Ask yourself these three questions to see if you might be overlooking something in your approach to job-hunting.

job rejection

1.  Are You Applying for the Right Jobs?

Some applicants like to take a blitz approach to their job search: applying for anything and everything without regard to industry or seniority level. That's a mistake. Even if it only takes 10 seconds to hit "apply" and submit a standard resume through a job search site, that's still a wasted 10 seconds. A hiring manager will immediately screen such applicants out. Their lack of investment is obvious. Better to take some time and care to target your resume and show you've invested some time in thinking about your fit for the opportunity.

Speaking of fit, consider whether you're aiming too high or too low with your applications. If you're fresh out of college, it's going to be difficult to land a manager- or director-level position, no matter how talented you are. And if you've been in a leadership role, you might be getting screened out because hiring managers are leery of your desire for a lower-ranking position.

2.  Are You Adequately Preparing for the Interview?

Again, this goes back to your investment in the opportunity. If you're invited for an interview and show up with generic answers, don't expect a call back. Recruiting candidates is a tedious process, and hiring managers are short on time. This is your opportunity to shine and show how prepared and self-sufficient you’ll be as an employee. As soon as you've scheduled an interview, focus on learning everything you can about the company and the potential opportunity:

  • Scour the company website, paying particularly attention to the About section, current news releases, and any information specific to your potential team. This will give you clues about the company culture and how you might be a good fit. Develop language that demonstrates your understanding of the company's mission and how the position for which you're interviewing fits into the bigger picture.
  • Do a deep dive on Google for company news. Go beyond the first page or two of search results. Also look for info on the individuals who will be interviewing you. Now, you don't want to be an Internet creeper, but an understanding of their career path might help you in your quest for an offer. If your own career path is similar to theirs, they might recognize it and take a shine to you. That's information you can subtly highlight.
  • Look at the competition. Find out whom the company considers its competition, and see how the competitors are positioned in the marketplace. This shows attention to detail and an eye on the big picture.

3.  Are You Presenting Yourself Professionally?

This is the toughest area of self-reflection, but imperative. Are you professional in every interaction with the company, whether it's by phone, email, or in-person? Simple things like returning phone calls and emails promptly make a huge difference between candidates—and they're easy ways to demonstrate your professionalism and interest in a position. Similarly, are you being courteous to everyone you meet, whether it's the security guard or the receptionist? You never know whose feedback the hiring manager will consider.

Take a look at your dress for the interview, too. Is your attire appropriate? If you're interviewing for a professional position, a suit is a good choice, even if the employee dress code is business-casual. You don't need to blow your budget on interview clothes, but having a conservative, go-to outfit signals respect for the process. Unless you're interviewing at a fashion magazine, this isn't the time to show your trendy side.

Finally, while it's been said a thousand times, it bears repeating: give your social media and online presence a review ,and clean it up if necessary. Hiring managers want assurance that you'll represent the company well.

Once you've addressed these areas of your job search—the areas you can control—the process becomes easier. When you put your best foot forward, the right opportunities start coming your way.

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