To job hunt is to experience rejection. Not every job will be the right fit — and many that might have been will go to other people, for all kinds of reasons unrelated to your skills and aptitude for the role.
The good news is that you can learn a lot from these experiences. These rejections can serve as opportunities to understand and improve upon strengths and weaknesses.
So, if you’ve recently been turned down by an employer that you were excited about, or if you’ve been passed over for more than one position that felt right, take a few minutes to consider how what you can do differently to improve your chances next time around.
1. Your resume needs work.
If you’re throwing out a lot of lines and getting nary a bite, you might want to take some time to look over your resume. Maybe it needs a little work. If there are any errors at all, then there’s your problem. Your resume should be polished, accurate and typo-free. You might also be making other common mistakes like listing old jobs you’d be better leaving off your resume or being to wordy or too vague. So, double-check your resume and be sure it’s top-notch. This is essential for any job seeker.
You’ll be asked to do certain things, in a certain order, throughout the hiring process. Maybe you’ll need to bring ID, copies of your resume and references with you to the interview. Maybe you’ll be asked to check in with the receptionist at a certain place and time. If you miss any of these marks, it could cost you the job. Failure to follow instructions to the absolute letter doesn’t speak well about your ability to meet expectations once you’re hired. So, be sure you don’t miss a beat.
3. You tanked the interview.
A lot of people get nervous when interviewing for a new job. It’s normal. The people interviewing you know this and they don’t expect you to be perfect. However, interviews are a key part of the hiring process, and it’s important that you do well if you’d like to be offered the job. Avoid common mistakes, and take the time to prepare for your interview.
4. You fell into the salary history trap.
Many hiring managers ask for salary history as part of the interview process. That’s a big problem, especially for women, who may have been underpaid in previous roles and now find themselves seemingly forever tied to that too-low salary.
But that doesn’t mean that withholding salary history is the right move. PayScale’s report, Is Asking for Salary History … History?, shows that while men earn 1.2 percent more when they keep past pay under wraps, women are penalized. Women who refuse to divulge salary history earn 1.8 percent less than those who reveal it.
What’s the best way to handle this problem? In short, answer or don’t answer (depending on who you are) but then remember that the important salary is the one under consideration right now. Re-focus the conversation on getting the appropriate pay for the role you’re discussing.
PayScale’s Salary Survey allows you to research what you should be earning based on job title, years of experience, location, education and skills. It’s important to be sure that your salary ask is in line with the market, or an employer might decide to look elsewhere, even if you’re a great fit.
Women who refuse to divulge salary history earn 1.8 percent less than those who reveal it.
5. You didn’t follow up.
It’s important to follow up after an interview because it demonstrates that you’d have the ability to see projects through to completion if you were hired by the company. Failure to do so could suggest to your prospective employer that you’re not really that interested in the position.
“Not providing good follow up is almost always a killer,” Meghan Keane, vice president of editorial at Alloy Digital, told The Muse. “I’m always surprised when I have an interview with someone I really like, and they don’t follow up. No thank you note. No outreach. It usually means they aren’t interested in the job or aren’t as good as I thought.”
So, take the time to be diligent and attend to every detail throughout the job-search process. And remember that your work isn’t done once the interview is over. It’s not old-fashioned to send a thank-you note. In fact, not doing so could cost you the job.
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