A very normal reaction to being turned down for a particular position is “But why wasn’t I selected?” Rarely does someone say, “Oh, great! I’d like to congratulate the person who got the job!” And, depending upon how strongly you wanted this particular job, the more likely you are to take the rejection personally. What could you have done to improve your odds? Was there anything you didn’t do? What did the “winner” have that you didn’t? Was it their resume? Was it their cover letter? Were they wearing a nicer suit? Did they have a special connection or past history with the company and/or the person interviewing them?
No matter how many people applied, the bottom line is that in most scenarios, only one person will be selected and the rest are still out in the job market, searching for another opportunity. Hopefully you have many of those proverbially eggs in many proverbial baskets simultaneously so that the “rejection” won’t have an overwhelming or disproportionate effect on you.
Again, and I can’t stress this enough, make certain that you do everything within your power to minimize the odds of rejection. Granted, sometimes the competition will have stronger education, or a better match in their background for the new position. But if there is a way to keep the odds in your favor, make sure that you aren’t doing something to create the rejection.
A solid resume gets you in the door for a personal interview. Once there, studies have shown these to be some of the main reasons why applicants are rejected:
- Too interested in starting salary
- Uncertainty of goals
- Poor personal appearance
- No knowledge of the company
- Making excuses, evasiveness
- Lack of courtesy
- Late to the interview
- No follow-up
- Appear to be just shopping around
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Condemning past employers
- Failure to look the interviewer in the eye
- Unwillingness to start at the bottom
- Expecting too much too soon
- Inability to express oneself clearly
- Overaggressive, “know-it-all” attitude
- Failure to ask questions about the job
Clearly there are numerous reasons why one person may be the hands-down choice candidate and the other prospects are merely “second choices”. But sometimes it could be as close as the flip of a coin! And sometimes the frustrating part of not knowing how close you were is overwhelming. (And it may or may not make a difference!)
It’s easy for to people to say (and they will!) “Don’t take it personally”. But, if you see a pattern emerging it may be time to step back and analyze the results of your campaign. Sometimes not “taking it personally” may be the very thing that is slowing down your job-hunting progress and overall focus.
Lauren Castle is the owner of Impress Express, a professional image firm, focusing on career development, resume preparation, presentation skills, etiquette and interview coaching. We are members of the Professional Association of Resume Writers. For help with your image, posting your resume, or preparing your internet-friendly resume, contact Lauren directly at 858-459-7400. And, as always, please forward your image and career-related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.