Updated: Oct 13
Being rejected from a job application can be hard to take. I know , I've been there and experienced the emotions first hand. The thought that goes through your head when you get yet another rejection email. "Why can't I get a job?"
You thought the interview went great, you thought you came across well and everything went smoothly - so what happened? Do you keep receiving the same generic "Thanks; but no thanks" response?
If you're fortunate, you may get some brief feedback in the email or phone call. However, even these can be cryptic generic to read "someone with more experience" or "you did great but we were just looking for something a little different". None of which are helpful when you are preparing for your next interview.
Rejection is not failure; it's part of the process. For instance, I failed at 3 businesses before Bigger Fish worked. You have to learn from every mistake and implement solutions to successfully move forward. Rejection is an inevitable part of finding a job. Yes there may be a few lucky souls who get every job they apply for - they are very much the exception, not the rule. Statistically, most people will get rejected. Even if only 9 people apply for every role - that's a 90% rejection rate!
If you are getting rejected before getting to the interview stage, thats an easy fix by editing your CV. Contact me today for a free CV review. If you got to interview stage, that's put you ahead of many in the process. Most people that apply don't get interviews; most people that are interviewed don't get the job.
Five reasons you didn't get the job.
The ugliest rejection reason upfront. It's a reason that shouldn't exist, is against the law, and that few will admit to - but it still happens without a doubt. Systemic racism and gender bias mean Black, Asian and minority ethnic workers, and women, find it harder to get new work. A report from the Centre for Social Investigation at Nuffield College in 2019 showed that applicants from minority ethnic backgrounds have to send 60% more applications to get a positive response compared to 'White British' candidates. The law says you can't be treated unfairly or differently if it's connected to who you are, like being a woman or being disabled. These are 'protected characteristics' as defined in the Equality Act 2010.
2. You're Not Qualified.
Not quite qualified doesn't mean you didn't belong at the interview! Job adverts often list requirements without making it clear which are absolutely necessary and which are merely 'nice to have'. This problem with job advert text can drive gender inequality - on average men are more likely to apply for a job if they only meet most of the requirements. Women, on average, will apply if they meet all the requirements listed. It might be that during the interview as they dig into your specific skill set and experience in more detail, perhaps with someone closer to the coal-face role on the panel, realised that there was a mismatch. Perhaps the actual requirements of the role were not clear in the job description.
3. You're Over-Qualified
In a hard job market where sectors rise and fall, or when people are changing careers and industries, there may be candidates with a lot of experience or qualifications who are applying for what seems to be a more junior role. Employers may have issues with this for several reasons - they may worry about job longevity and think you will soon move on to something better. They may be threatened or worried about disruption if you are better qualified than the current department head! Or they may think someone with fewer qualifications will do the job just as well for less money.
4. You Interview Poorly
Interviewing can be nerve-wracking. Maybe you are a great candidate on paper but don't answer confidently, or break out in a sweat when it goes off-script. Again, try and get what feedback you can. I offer my clients a friendly 1-on-1 interview coaching session that will increase your chances fo success. Or you can download the Interview Coaching Guide here.
5.We hired an Ex-Colleague / Recommendation / Internally
This can feel like it was a setup - if they had someone in mind why bother interviewing externally! But while there are qualifications for doing a job, companies are also looking for someone who is a cultural fit and will work well within the team. If they are an ex-colleague whose work is proven, it removes some of the risks from the hire. If a candidate has been recommended by an existing worker, that also removes some risk. It's a form of reference.
Rejection happens. It's practically inevitable for everyone at some point in your career. Do not take it personally, there are many reasons and not all of them are in your control. Get feedback where you can, prepare for interviews as well as you can, and don't lose heart. Your next job is out there. You can change the question from "Why can't I get a job" to "Which of these jobs will I choose?"
Ready to start landing interviews? Check out my professional CV and LinkedIn Writing Packages.