How long have you (or a loved one) been looking for a new job? Does the search feel like an emotional rollercoaster ride that just won’t end? Other than “the economy,” there could be some crazy reasons why your job search may not be going exactly to plan.
In his 2012 book, Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs, Wharton business professor Peter Cappelli writes, “The most important reason good individuals can’t get jobs where there appears to be a shortage is that employers are defining job requirements in such a way that applicants need to have done the job already.”
If you have ever applied for a job — that you could have easily done — but never heard back, it could be that you didn’t have the exact experience the company required. Companies that hire for perfection versus potential could be one factor in a long, difficult job search. Here are five more ugly truths about why sometimes great people can’t land fab jobs.
1. Turnover Causes Turmoil
The recruiter you’ve been conversing with leaves the company. The hiring manager that you totally connected with is promoted and moves. There’s a new VP who’s restructuring the entire department. A changing of the guards can cause unforeseen changes to your chances.
What you can do: Turnover at your ideal employer can lead to a long road or dead end. Consider using LinkedIn to identify who else you might know at the company or to see if you know someone who knows someone, and begin networking your way back in.
2. Inexperienced Recruiters As Gatekeepers
As someone with 15 years of recruiting experience, I recently found myself in a job search. I applied for a position that I knew I was 100% qualified for, only to receive a generic “no thanks” email from human resources. Puzzled, I emailed my resume and cover letter to a director at the same company. Six hours later, I had a request for a first round interview.
What you can do: Often times, recruiters are the first people to view applications; if they can’t connect all the dots, you end up taking the hit. This where tailoring your resume and cover letter to the specific job that interests you most can be extremely helpful. Make it easy for recruiters to understand what skills and experience you have, in their own words.
3. Competing Against Internal Candidates
Want to be thrown a real curve ball? Internal candidates. You could be the perfect person for the job and have had a fantastic interview. Then suddenly someone who is already employed by ABC Company is interested and seemingly qualified …boom! It’s over. I’ve had this happen to one too many friends.
What you can do: My advice here, as cliché as it might be, is to never put all of your eggs in one basket. Keep networking, researching and working your leads. Don’t assume that anything is a shoo-in.
4. Thinking Global But Buying Local
Great candidates don’t always live within commuting distance. However, the debate is on about remote workers, productivity, engagement, and so on. Job seekers can become geographically undesirable if management has decided that they want everyone in the office. As shortsighted as this might seem, it’s their prerogative.
What you can do: Even if you are willing to relocate, companies might still choose to hire local candidates because they can start sooner and already have ties to the area. Frustrating, but a reality. If you are considering relocation, be sure to clearly communicate your desire (not just willingness) to move throughout the entire hiring process.
5. You Can’t Control The Uncontrollable
Mergers, technology upgrades, hiring freezes, lost paperwork, poor financial performance, people are out of town, retirements and natural disasters — these could all be reasons that you don’t make it all the way through the hiring process.
What you can do: We can’t control Mother Nature or other people. We can only control our own actions. As difficult as it may be, sometimes you just have to “keep on keepin’ on” or move on.
From start to finish, there are so many things that can go terribly wrong with a job search. And, in the end — there will hopefully be that one thing that goes amazingly right. Some people might say that timing is everything …but I would say that it takes much more than simply time to be on your side. Every interview that you receive is a chance to shine, and any offer is a result of a lot of hard work, patience and a little luck.
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