How many times have you seen a job description for which you believed your experience and skill set matches exactly and yet never landed an interview? You submitted your resume and networked and yet never heard back, leaving you to ponder what you might have done wrong in the submission process.
You also take that a step further and begin to doubt if your experience is lacking somehow to have failed in at least obtaining a response from the company. Was it your resume or something on your LinkedIn profile, or did you not submit your resume on the right day at the right time, or should you have called the hiring manager, or maybe your cover letter was lacking?
Most likely it was none of those reasons. A job description can have 20-30 criteria and although you can make the assumption they are listed in order of importance, often they are not. Wouldn’t it be great for job seekers if these criteria were weighted to show you just how important each requirement is to the hiring manager? Unfortunately, there is another factor: the criteria changes over time – even during the hiring process.
All of this leaves job seekers in a quandary and most certainly a large degree of frustration. I am sure you have been on interviews only to discover even the job title does not match the listed job requirements or the perceived grade level of the job responsibilities.
With this said, the question is really “What can you do about it?” There is something you can do, and at the same time nothing you can do. Business and people are all different and it is important to understand you will never understand their actions or decisions. At the same time this scenario screams for why it is imperative you have a powerful network. You at least need a chance to get in front of the hiring manager and discuss your experience in detail and ask questions. However, this still may not be enough, but at least you give yourself a chance.
In the end if the hiring manager decides she must have someone with extensive industry experience similar to the company, and yours is modest in that industry, then as hard as you sell yourself, it may all fall on deaf ears. But you need that chance in front of the hiring manager, and if you aren’t granted one, even with great referrals, step back and consider that was not the best fit for you.
Maybe during the entire interview process senior management pushes a project to the front and demands most resources be focused on timely completion of that project. Although you may have been in the running at one point, you may now be moved to the back of the line because someone else has more experience solely in that project completion. Networking at least gives you a chance that you might be heard.
The other challenge is that the hiring manager may not be exactly sure of what he really wants. Sure, we know every job description asks for every conceivable job expertise, but which ones are really the key drivers for the hiring manager? The hiring manager often is not exactly sure what the best combination of skills and talents is for the job – almost as if he will know it when he sees it. Unfortunately, for you the job seeker, that puts you in a major dilemma – how can you possibly answer questions not really knowing what the hiring manager wants if the hiring manager is not exactly sure? This is another reason why asking questions in an interview is more important than having cute answers.
Consider the job search process from the hiring manager perspective. If you have ever been in this position, you first look around for someone internally to fill the position or ask around if anyone knows anyone. Eventually HR and even Legal push you to write a job description and in haste you put down everything you can think of to require of a candidate. Yet if the hiring manager was going to talk first to a referral of an internal candidate for example, the hiring manager would not have this extensive list of requirements in mind. Instead the hiring manager would be more focused on if the person was a good fit in a key areas. See how crazy this is? Bottom line, you can’t really be sure if your experience and expertise is what the hiring manager really wants.
But what if you never receive an opportunity to interview and your experience aligns perfectly with the job requirements? Sure, as we know there are hundreds of other candidates with similar great experience and something in their background caught the hiring manager’s eye. However, remember that a job search comes down to fit, and that fit has to be there from both sides. I have discovered that when I was turned down or was never provided an opportunity to interview at a company that eventually not only a job offer came from another company, but the opportunity proved to be better than I had planned for.
This is not just wishful thinking. Looking back I can see that my skills and expertise would not have been fully utilized at some companies, or the company ended up years later struggling financially, or merged with another company changing their culture. At the same time the company where I landed was always the right company for me to learn, grow and excel as long as I remained focused on what I truly was looking for and desired in my next position. Most important each company set me up to take on the challenges and responsibilities of my new position.
About 10 years ago there was a company at which I interviewed and wanted to work, believing the position looked like a great fit. There was another company at which I interviewed, and yet of which I knew little about them. As it turns out the first company got buried in the economic collapse of 2008 (they were a home builder!). I did not get the job at the first company and instead I landed at the second company and eventually was given more responsibility than anticipated and it turned out to be a perfect growth and learning opportunity.
So remain vigilant and know there is a place where you belong and where you will excel. Instead of lamenting a lost opportunity, or negative thinking on how the company made a wrong decision in not hiring you, realize instead the right decision was made in not hiring you – because you belong somewhere else to achieve goals and add skills and make a difference.