I am sure most people will relate to this situation when applying for jobs. Checking your inbox a few times a day anxiously waiting for the reply of that job interview you did that you were so excited about and… nothing? For days? It can be frustrating and demotivating, especially after you spent so much time and effort writing the perfect cover letter. The truth is: looking for a new job can be very time consuming and stressful.
But be sure of one thing: you are not alone! Some job seekers send hundreds of job applications a month, only to get a very generic answer that they were not accepted or, even worse, never hear back on the status of their application.
But you can improve that! You may be able to strenghten your application process to nail the interview next time if you spend some time
- reviewing your cover letter to avoid mistakes,
- preparing with the STAR method for common interview questions, like why should we hire you, what are your strengths or weaknesses,
- and planning better for the virtual assessment centre.
You did all these and still don’t understand what could have gone wrong? Double-check again and read some of the most common reasons why you didn’t get hired and ideas on what you can focus on!
When Your Qualifications were not a fit for the job
Sometimes, more experience or some specific skills were required to do the job. Make sure to read the job description in detail and reflect if this task/profile would be a fit for you.
If you see a skill, certification or other qualification under the word “REQUIRED” on the job description that you don’t have, this could be the reason most likely why you were not selected.
Take the time to highlight the skills that qualify you for the position on your resume. If you don’t have most of the required skills, you can consider applying for a more junior position or improving your skills before applying for this specific job. Think about improving in coding, marketing, or languages.
What if you have the feeling you were the perfect fit and still didn’t get selected?
On the other hand, it might have nothing to do with your skills or the performance during the interview. Maybe the requirements of the position have changed or they decided not to look for the position anymore. If you think you were the perfect fit and the interview went really well, you can try sending an email to the hiring manager to get the full story and ask for feedback!
Did they ask for a Masters Degree and you have a PHD Degree? Do they ask for 2 years experience and you have 5? In this case there could be a perception by the employer that you are overqualified. Being overqualified can hurt your candidacy as much as being underqualified for a position. Use your cover letter to explain why you’re applying, why do you want to step down and highlight your enthusiasm for the role.
Accomplishments aren’t showcased enough
Your resume and cover letter don’t reveal your accomplishments? Try using numbers to quantify your achievements to impress an employer ( ieg: x clientes acquired, % increase in sales since xxx, cost savings by ..%, increase in profits by …%).
Maybe there were some grammar and/or spelling errors in your documents? It can happen, especially if you are not a native speaker. It’s always good to get someone to proofread your resume who speaks the language fluently or use software like Grammarly.
Generic cover letter
Was the cover letter not tailored to the job and too generic? The objective of the cover letter is to sell your achievements and explain your motivation to work for that company in that position. You should write about what you can offer the company and highlight your motivation. Be specific and customize your cover letters!
Lack of credentials
Many jobs have a required level of education or equivalent experience. If you don’t meet those requirements, you may not be considered for the position. In that case, try applying for a more junior position.
Maybe your salary expectations are above what the company can pay. If the company thinks you’ll be too expensive to hire, they might reject you for the interview. Take the time to evaluate what you worth and do some research on salary ranges for that position/with those requirements/ in that city/years of experience so you can negotiate effectively. There are many websites that can offer this overview: www.gehalt.de, for example.
You are focusing at only the most popular companies
Bigger, well known companies, often get a considerable amount of resumes per position, so the competition is really high. Consider approaching smaller companies, like startups, which can offer you a great deal of career and learning opportunities can be a really good option.
Unexplained employment gaps
Many of us take time off (for health, family, travel, studies or other reasons). Make sure to be honest and explain what you have done during this time (maternity leave/parental leave/sabbatical/travelling abroad). You don’t need to be too specific, but make sure to highlight briefly the reason and the time you took.
It is hard to know the exact reasons why you are being rejected after an interview and this can be frustrating! Employers could be more specific when providing feedback, which is unfortunately not often the case because of lack of time. It can be helpful to reflect on some of the most common reasons why candidates aren’t selected and it’s definitely worth double checking your resume/cover letter once again and making sure you understand the exact job requirements and you show the right motivation to do the job on the cover letter.
If you haven’t heard back after a long time, thought, it’s worth a try contacting the hiring manager asking for feedback. The hiring manager might remember your persistence, enthusiasm and motivation and will invite you for an interview!