“I Don’t Get It: I’m the PERFECT Candidate…”

5 May

Any recruiter, career coach, advisor, HR professional, friend, colleague or cousin will give you their own spin on “why that company hasn’t gotten back to you.” There is always the possibility that you just weren’t qualified enough, or outright lacked an important skill or credential that someone else DID have.  Still, the biggest complaint I hear from job seekers is that it really wasn’t that obvious to them why they were passed over, and they’re left scratching their head when they initially thought they were the “perfect candidate”.  So what might have happened?  Here are a few possibilities that can easily go overlooked when you start to play the ‘ponder and assume’ game of “what happened to my resume?”

  • You applied with an out-of-state address.

“But I will move as soon as I get a job!” This one is a double-edged sword, and very commonly an obstacle, unless the positions that you qualify for require very very specific credential/qualifications/clearances, making locality a non-issue due to the narrowness of the candidate pool to begin with.  Or, you got lucky because the company already exhausted their local talent pool, pushing them to look outward.  The concern companies have with out-of-state candidates is often the transition time from “you’re hired” to “welcome to your first day”.  When a move is involved, whether they’re right or wrong, it’s often assumed that the candidate will need longer to sort out their affairs, and the company is looking for someone to start in the role ASAP.  You can always put a local address on your resume, but prepared to answer to the expectation that you’re available immediately to interview and start.

  • You stated your salary range in your cover letter… without knowing what the job pays.

By all means, if the salary range is listed in the job description, or the recruiter tells you upfront, if it’s within your range – say so.  However, even if you’re pretty sure of what it might pay, be wary of stating your range up front if you’re not specifically asked to do so, because you risk pricing yourself out against other candidates, or conversely, you risk undermining your value by going too low.  Save this discussion for the interview, if possible.

  • Despite your stellar skills, you lack “industry experience”… and someone else doesn’t.

How much weight is put on having the exact industry experience of what the company is involved in?  If you have a major cell phone company hiring for a print project manager with tele-com experience, and you have 10 great candidates with tele-com, and one amazing candidate who’s worked in everything but, there’s no guarantee that amazing candidate will make the cut on skills alone. There are reasons why industry-specific experience is critical to some companies –  language and nuances and practices and other aspects that are specific to each industry.  Even if the job is the same, it is likely that a company doesn’t have resources to train in those areas, and they just can’t take the risk on that new hire not coming up to speed quickly enough.  If that’s the case, it may simply be out of your control.  Move on!

  • You Lack a critical skill component… that you didn’t consider critical.

Same thing if there’s a required software element. It may seem like a small thing to you to not be an expert in “Software X” (you can learn on the job – you pick things up quick, etc. etc.). But if 3 other candidates have it and you don’t, you might be out of luck. Again, most companies lack the time and resources to train someone in the required software or skill areas, even if it’s something minor, and let’s face it, EVERYONE  “picks up new technologies quickly”, so that’s not likely to hold any weight.  Research in advance what type of applications or software knowledge is important to the company and the role, and look at online software training resources like Linda.com to get even the basic understanding of the tools, and you will increase your chances of getting noticed.

Sometimes you’ll just have to rest on the fact that you have no idea why a potential employer may have passed on your resume.  There are a number of circumstantial reasons that can come up – someone was promoted internally, the position was put on hold due to lack of funds, the candidate after you had the same alma mater as the HR Manager, they already have 5 people named Harry who currently work for the company and they want to avoid any further confusion with the email system.  Focus on the areas where you do have control to optimize your candidacy and your chances of getting noticed.  There are tons of “rules” and “how-to’s” out there, but the most important thing is to really pay attention to the company you want to work for, and what it is they want out of that perfect candidate.  Target, personalize and then sell yourself as the fantastic front-runner you are!

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