The reasons are infinite
Job hunting is one of the most stressful periods in a person’s life, right up there with a death in the family, divorce, and illness. There’s so much at stake, and it can be frustrating. In Austin, where we’re headquartered, we operate a popular tech job group where the most universal question is “why didn’t I get the job??”
In almost all cases, you’ll never really know why.
Sorry. That’s disheartening, but it’s true. The positive side is that it isn’t always your fault. So, we’ve crafted a massive list of reasons you didn’t get the job interview or job offer that you can learn from if you read from top to bottom (we promise this isn’t the same old garbage you already know).
Don’t let this list get you nervous, the idea is that there are infinitely complex numbers of reasons humans reject each other, many of which can’t be helped. Remember, the hiring person has a lot at stake, so does the employer (it costs a lot to hire, onboard, and retain employees), not just you.
The hiring process can be inhuman and indignant and your resume goes into a black hole or you never get feedback after a phone or in-person interview, but arm yourself with as much knowledge about the process and avoid as many objections as possible. We’re pulling for you!
It’s the robot’s fault
1. Did you know that if you apply online that your resume goes through an applicant tracking system (ATS)? And if your resume didn’t match the job description (meaning none of the keywords they were looking for were used), the robots didn’t even give your resume to their HR human? Pay attention to job descriptions and tailor your resume to each application accordingly.
2. Sometimes the applicant tracking system (ATS) where you sent your application online kicked out a rejection letter without the hiring manager knowing. It happens.
3. You put your resume on one generic job search site that promises to send it to hundreds of employers (but is really just there to sell your information to third parties). At no point did you apply directly, through a third party recruiter, across various platforms, and so forth. Applying on some of the junk job search sites is not always applying (we don’t mean Indeed or Dice or reputable brands, but the “apply once to a trillion random jobs” platforms – be cynical).
It’s the hiring manager’s fault
4. Sometimes it really isn’t your fault, the recruiter or hiring manager is imperfect. That’s harsh, but you can’t guarantee that person will be perceptive or even professional. The overwhelming majority are really insanely good at their job, but they’re humans too, thus they’re fallible.
5. The hiring manager is petty and/or shallow and didn’t like the school you went to or the purse you were carrying or the car you pulled up in. You’ll never know you received a secret demerit.
It’s the company’s fault
6. Sometimes the company changes the job specifications in the middle of the process.
7. The company might have changed in the middle of the process. Maybe the CEO is on the way out. Or there’s a temporary hiring freeze, but they can’t say that in public. Or their funding status is changing. Or the business just took a big hit and everyone’s scrambling.
8. They were never hiring to begin with and were using candidates for marketing ideas or free labor. It’s a sick practice that some companies commit.
9. Someone that no longer works there told you to start as a contractor and they’d consider you FT after 90 days, but it was never in writing and no one knows what you’re talking about and your contract is up and it’s not going to be renewed. You didn’t really get the job, amigo.
10. Your interview with the Chief Hug Officer about how many stars you give yourself as a leader wasn’t the appropriate number of stars and they didn’t want to hug you after all. Or your phone interview with the 18 year old social media intern where you couldn’t name any Marvel characters rubbed them the wrong way. Companies have unique interviewing methods that involve humans, and some are just plain silly.
11. The company’s not willing to accept your type of Visa or citizenship status.
It’s timing’s fault
12. There was a candidate interviewed before you applied that they really like and are waiting for an offer acceptance from. And now they have said yes and you’re out and sad, and I’m sorry.
13. Someone else took precedent (an internal hire, an ex-colleague, or someone the CEO said they know and is the new hire no matter what).
It’s someone else’s fault
14. Someone unexpectedly gave you a bad reference and you may never know about it.
It’s your fault
15. Let’s start with the obvious repetitive junk you already know – you have a bad resume or cover letter. There are red flags, incomplete information, grammar errors, it is too long or to short, super generic, and/or never expressed how you impacted any company’s bottom line.
16. You couldn’t answer basic questions (“why did you leave your last job?” or “why were you only at X place for 3 months?”). Or you answered any number of interview questions poorly. Or you were asked to critique something about the company and you wailed on their shortcomings rather than offer a positive, followed by a meaningful critique with actionables, closed with a positive.
17. You made a mistake on your application (you worked at Google from 1904-2006?) or you straight up lied. Some companies do basic employment checks prior to requesting an interview, so you better get your story straight from minute one.
19. You’re not a culture fit. But wait, it’s not what you think – you’re not unlikable, they’re just looking for a puzzle piece. Their division might be in chaos or the there’s already an A-type on the small team. Hiring managers deal with truly complex situations and it isn’t personal if you’re not the right puzzle piece, despite your incredible pedigree.
20. You raised major legal red flags. Nothing says you plan to sue like vaguely saying “I have schizophrenia, is that going to be a problem?” or “I’m not sure working for a male boss is a good fit, do you have someone I can answer to that is female?” or “what is your policy on sex in the workplace?”
21. Speaking of legal red flags, you put your picture on your resume which tells sensitive employers “I’m doing this so later I can say I didn’t get the job because of my [gender, race, etc.]” Discrimination is no joke. It happens, and you don’t want to put an employer in an uncomfortable situation – your picture’s already on LinkedIn. That suffices.
22. To “where do you see yourself in five years?” You said “in your job” to be clever or “President of the company” without explanation. Come on, people. How you answer that demonstrates your intent on longevity in the company, your willingness to move up, your desire to be a leader, not supplant your interviewer.
23. You applied to basically every role in the company and now they take you seriously for none.
24. You applied for a Senior-level role when you’re barely entry-level.
25. You asked nothing about the company or role during the interview. This is sadly common and so easy to fix.
26. You knew nothing about the company during the interview. Do your research, people.
27. You failed a required technical test or psych profile and there really is no coming back from that. Objective requirements are just that – objective.
28. Your work history is unstable, too short to be applicable, and/or filled with holes you can’t (or didn’t) properly explain.
29. You’re missing a certification or education level the employer wants (either publicly or secretly).
30. You’re too educated – your PhD is scaring them into thinking your salary demands might rapidly increase even if you’re currently amenable to minimum wage. This is based on endless studies and experiences of people settling – they don’t stick around for long.
31. You forgot to include your continuing education (coding courses, professional leadership retreats) because you thought they were irrelevant. They’re not – they show that you take initiative and eager to always learn more.
32. You ghosted at some point or were slow to respond.
33. You arrived (or called) way too early or way too late.
34. You were rude to the receptionist.
35. You were overly familiar during the interview because you’ve done so much research and feel like you know the company so well. This trait says you’ll be an unruly team member and will likely disqualify you. Be a pro, even if you know the hiring manager personally – anything else is disrespectful.
36. Someone random in the company met you at a networking event 10 years ago and when politics came up you called them a moron. They didn’t forget, and you’ll never know it was even a factor. But it might have been.
37. You briefly dated the hiring manager’s dramatic best friend and over drinks, you come up and she tells horror stories about you – you’ll never learn this was the reason, but seriously, it’s possible.
38. You were sweaty (if that’s a problem, wear a sweat-wicking shirt under your top).
39. You had a smell – either body odor or too much perfume/cologne/axe deodorant.
40. You had a limp or overly aggressive handshake – some people are really sensitive to that and you may culturally offend someone.
41. You looked at (or stared at) your phone during an interview when it wasn’t ringing. Or your smartwatch.
42. You weren’t memorable – some people are just boring or try to be overly calm. Remember you’re connecting with another non-robot human, so try to be at least human.
43. Your desperation permeated the entire process. They could smell it on you and it wasn’t appealing. Why? Because they know you’re going to take the job so you can pay rent, but you’ll still be job hunting and they’ll lose you quickly, so why bother?
44. You live in the wrong place – they may be unwilling to pay for relocation and may screen accordingly.
45. Salary negotiations went awry. They demanded your previous salary and you refused or they didn’t like the number or you’d done too little or too much salary research, or maybe the job listing said a range and you demanded triple (or they offered less than the range).
46. You asked questions at the wrong time – don’t lead with “so what are the benefits and how much time do I get off?” Wait until you know that they like you already. Asking pay as the first question, although the most important, can disqualify you. This is a delicate dance.
47. You failed some simple (probably stupid) test like a sales role being offered half salary and being tricked into negotiating their way up, or somewhere on the job listing it asked you to “Like” their page on Facebook and you didn’t, who knows?
48. You dressed poorly at the interview or were way overdressed.
49. When asked if you’re a night person or morning person, you didn’t say you’re flexible, you said you’re terrible at mornings, and now this company that is really serious about productivity starting at 8:00am, is no longer interested in you.
50. You fidgeted or shook during the interview.
51. You were awkward during the interview, maybe you held your bag in your lap or kept your winter coat on.
52. Your nerves got the best of you – you spoke too quickly or quietly or couldn’t stop saying “like” or “umm.”
SIDENOTE: Being introverted or socially anxious is a challenge, so during an interview, gently express that so it’s not misinterpreted. “I do tend to be introverted, but I want you to know that I am enthusiastic about this opportunity even if I sound a little shaky and nervous.”
53. You didn’t thank the interviewer (or act interested) at any point.
54. You sent an extravagant thank you gift to the hiring manager that disqualified you as it appeared to be a bribe, not the kind gesture you meant for it to be.
55. You followed up too soon and too frequently.
56. You were too cocky or too insecure.
57. You were too eager and it came across as insincere.
58. Your body language was off (you used practiced/disingenuous hand steepling, or you slouched, or maybe you couldn’t make eye contact).
59. You were too scripted – you obviously regurgitated scripts you studied online (a good HR pro can see right through that – they’ve read them, too).
60. You sneezed into your hand and wiped it on your pants, then offered it to shake at adios time. Gross, bye.
61. You trash talked a former employer or coworker (or the interviewer’s favorite sports team, or their religion, or them).
62. You didn’t laugh at the CEO’s joke during a final interview.
63. You shared way too much personal info – not stories about vacay to humanize yourself, but like made sure they knew you have irritable bowel syndrome.
64. You were overly apologetic about your past rather than calmly explaining that you took five years off to be a stay at home parent, but you’ve kept your skills sharp by studying [X].
65. You kept talking about why their competitor is awesome.
66. You accidentally called them by their hated competitor’s name during an interview.
67. You kept calling the interviewer “Jacob,” but his name was always “Jason” and now he thinks you can’t tend to standard details (or is just butthurt).
68. You’re trying to pivot from one industry to another and you do a poor job of explaining that in any way, you just hoped you’d get an interview (but it doesn’t work that way).
69. You’re painfully ugly or overly hot. Sorry, it’s possible.
70. You’re overqualified and that means you might leave when a sexier offer comes along.
71. You’re underqualified which means they’ll have to pay for your learning curve (which they won’t).
72. Your credit is awful and you’re applying to a highly regulated industry like finance or law enforcement, which may hold you back.
73. You didn’t know that your criminal or credit history might not be a disqualifier so you didn’t even try. Sometimes companies are open to certain types of offenses, or you can explain the illness in the family that destroyed your credit.
74. You failed a drug test – this is one of the few instances where you’ll know what happened.
75. You pressured them on social media (you started “IBMShouldHireMichael.com” or started #IBMHireMike and had friends use it on Twitter endlessly, which is clever and has a slight chance of working if applying to a digital media role, but almost always just comes off as annoying and overly aggressive – not worth the risk). Plus, if you depended on that being your hook and they didn’t even notice, it was a hugely wasted effort.
76. You’re so addicted to internet jargon and slang that you used it on your resume or during an interview (“btw, your shoes are on fleek”). Save it for your tumblr, folks.
77. Being cute with videos, online resumes in infographic format, and so forth, forces an employer to investigate you outside of their normal parameters and could land you in the trash bin. Do those things in addition to the traditional resume requested.
78. Your social media accounts are offensive, filled with garbage, or overly sexualized – lock it down while on the job market.
79. You bitched about the company on social media “phone interviewer at X company was straight up retarded” — uh what!? This actually happened recently.
80. You didn’t express interest after the interview. In fact, you may have closed with “well I have several more interviews to complete, so I’ll have to get back to you,” hoping to prove value but really pissing off the employer.
If you’ve read this far, you know that sometimes it’s you, sometimes the stars just didn’t align properly. Sometimes you’ll get feedback, but most of the time, your secret demerits will remain locked in someone’s brain.
But now you know some of the pitfalls that you can fix, so you will. You can only control what you can control, the rest you simply have to let go of.
Let this information empower you, not discourage you.
Good luck during your job search, and don’t let the robots hold you back!
This story first published in April of 2017.
Etsy is trying on second-hand fashion with purchase of Depop
(BUSINESS NEWS) With the younger generation moving away from fast fashion, it makes sense that Etsy has acquired one of the most popular Gen Z second hand apps.
Over the last few years, sustainable shopping has been a bullet point in the large-scale topic of the environment. Burning through clothing by disposing of old clothing and shopping from places specializing in “fast fashion” is causing damage to the earth.
According to the UN Environment Programme, the fashion industry is the second largest consumer of water and is responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
As a result, shopping second hand has become more popular, as opposed to mass-produced fast fashion. Online platforms like Poshmark and ThredUp have grown tremendously over the last 3 to 5 years.
Etsy paid $1.6 billion to acquire the UK-founded company, which has attracted a younger, Gen Z-based audience due to its social media use and messaging on shopping in an ethical and environmentally-friendly fashion.
Etsy CEO Josh Silverman said the company was “thrilled” to be adding what it believes to be the “resale home for Gen Z consumers” to Etsy. Depop has approximately 30 million registered users spanning 150 countries.
“Depop is a vibrant, two-sided marketplace with a passionate community, a highly-differentiated offering of unique items, and we believe significant potential to further scale,” Silverman said in a statement Wednesday.
“We see significant opportunities for shared expertise and growth synergies across what will now be a tremendous ‘house of brands’ portfolio of individually distinct, and very special, ecommerce brands.”
Due to the COVID-related e-commerce boom, shares of Etsy have more than doubled in the last year. The stock was up about 6.7% Wednesday afternoon.
According to data from Crunchbase, Depop had raised a total of $105.6 million from investors including General Atlantic, Creandum, Balderton Capital, Octopus Ventures and Klarna CEO and co-founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski, prior to their agreement with Etsy.
With fashion being so cyclical, it may be safe to say that second hand will never fully go out of style.
What are your thoughts on resale apps being the answer to fast fashion woes? Let us know in the comments.
As masks become optional, businesses find themselves stuck in the middle
(BUSINESS NEWS) One liquor store’s decision on mask policy following changes in local laws has become a recurring story throughout the nation.
The American mask debate has comprised a whirlwind of clashing political ideologies, legal dilemmas, and personal agendas, with businesses placed directly in the middle of the storm. As the pandemic continues to run its course, a disparity in state mandates and legislation is only serving to increase the strain on these establishments.
With increased access to vaccines and several states rolling back their COVID guidance, the option to wear—or not wear—masks is becoming more discretionary, with businesses often having the final say in whether or not they expect masks to be used on their premises. One such business, a liquor store, posted a notice regarding their staff’s decision to continue wearing masks:
“In accordance with Johnson County mandates: Masks are now optional. Please do not berate, verbally assault, or otherwise attack the staff over their choice to continue wearing masks.”
The notice went on to say, “It is painfully depressing we have to make this request.”
That last line epitomizes many business owners’ stances. Places across the country have started allowing customers to discard their masks with proof of vaccination, but if employees choose to keep their masks for the time being, it’s difficult for clients not to view it as a kind of political statement—despite their decisions often being corroborated by local laws.
And, as long as businesses continue to operate within the confines of those laws, their decisions should be free from public scrutiny.
Sadly, that’s not what’s happening as evidenced by the notice posted by the liquor store in Johnson County. The same disparity that allows for some freedom despite COVID still being present in many Americans’ lives often leaves those who choose not to wear masks to conclude that those who do wear them are being judgmental or unnecessarily cautious.
Those judgements work in reverse as well, with businesses who allow their employees to work maskless facing criticism from masked clients. It seems that the freedom to choose—something for which people strongly advocated throughout the pandemic—continues to cause separation.
As businesses change or adapt their regulations to fit state mandates and employee (and customer) concerns, everyone would do well to remember that the decisions these establishments make are usually meant to affect some kind of positive work environment—not to welcome harassment and abuse.
You should apply to be on a board – why and how
(BUSINESS NEWS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.
We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.
Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:
1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.
As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.”
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).
The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.
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