The Pulse #05: The brutal (but liberating) truth about rejection
“I applied to a job I was perfect for but wasn’t invited in for an interview! How could they pass on me?!”
Has this ever happened to you?
I would bet it has and it’s got to be one of the more frustrating aspects of job searching.
- You come across an awesome opportunity.
- You check off 8,9, maybe even 10 out of 10 boxes…”This job literally describes me!”
- You take the time to customize your resume.
- You hit submit.
- The phone should ring any minute now!
- A day turns into a week.
- A week turns into a month.
- You notice that the job has closed.
Being ignored is always frustrating, especially when you’re a perfect match on paper.
Here’s the deal though: there are typically unspoken variables at play.
Variables that are never mentioned on paper, but undoubtedly exist.
Some are perfectly sensible. Others may seem outlandish, unfair, immoral, or even illegal. Regardless, these variables exist, and unfortunately, you’ll probably never know exactly why you weren’t selected for an interview.
So what are some of the unspoken variables that you may be contending with?
I think it’s helpful to understand what goes on behind the scenes so you can stop beating yourself up so much. Sometimes things genuinely are out of your control. Here are just a handful of the more common variables that I have witnessed throughout my career:
1) The company opened up the role to outside applicants but in reality, they’ve already identified a strong candidate who will be hired or promoted; probably a referral or internal employee.
2) You applied too late. In the current job market, especially with the rising popularity of remote and hybrid roles, it is common for recruiters to receive hundreds or even thousands of applicants. Quickly. The later you apply, the less likely you are to be considered if the application volume is through the roof, regardless of your qualifications.
3) The company once hired someone (or multiple people) who used to work at your current or former employer(s), and it didn’t work out. Feeling burned, they now have a stated or unspoken policy of not hiring applicants who have also worked there. Guilty by association.
4) You check off 9 out of 10 boxes but other applicants check off 10 out of 10. You might make it into a “Maybe” pile but will only be called if none of the 10/10’s work out first.
5) Recruiters and hiring managers may have unspoken personal biases. Maybe they don’t like your current employer, your name, the town you live in, the font you used on your resume, the college you went to, etc. This may sound crazy, but it 100% happens.
6) You’re not as qualified for the role as you think you are (ouch). In my experience, well over 50% of applicants aren’t even remotely in the ballpark.
7) The person(s) reviewing your application or resume is not a great evaluator of talent. This is unfortunate, but people are people, and it happens.
These are just a few variables, there could be countless others.
Where am I going with all of this?
Unknown variables are out of your control, and you simply cannot afford to fixate or get too emotionally attached to a particular role or company.
Sure, get angry or frustrated for a moment. It’s natural and frankly, can be therapeutic.
But for the good of your search, your productivity, and your sanity, you must keep it moving.
And please, don’t vent about it on LinkedIn. You might get a ton of likes and comments, but nobody who can actually hire you cares or will view you in a positive light. The only people who gravitate to “LinkedIn doom porn” are angry job seekers, know it alls, and career coaches and resume writers trying to take advantage of people. Oh, and the algorithm. Trust me on this.
Instead, focus on all of the things that you can and should control within your job search: networking, having mint career documents, being realistic, sharpening your interviewing and negotiation skills, etc.
Happy hunting and stay positive!