Applying for jobs can seem like a full-time gig all on its own. You have to, or at least you should, tweak your resume and cover letter for each position, answer all of the additional questions and so much more.
So when, after all of that, you get a swift "Thank your for your interest" followed by what can seem like a huge "BUT...," it can be a hard and discouraging pill to swallow.
People often come up with reasons why they think they didn't get the position. They didn't vibe with the interviewer; they didn't have a specific skill that the recruiter kept bringing up; it seemed like there was an internal candidate already lined up. But what happens when you genuinely think you are a good fit for the position and you still can't get the time of day, let alone a call back?
Here's the thing. Job interviews aren't always straight forward. In fact, they rarely are, and this is what can make things so frustrating especially when you're very interested in the job.
Unlike college courses, job interviews aren't pass or fail. If you pass you get the job and if you fail you remain unemployed because you're unqualified or untalented... NOT. Hiring is all about timing. You might be an incredibly strong candidate, but it just so happens that another candidate is even better or there is in fact an internal hire they have in mind. Not get a job doesn't necessarily mean you're no good, it just means that you need to continue looking.
At the end of the day, you have no way of knowing what's going on behind the scenes of the company or organization you're applying to.
For example, you could be competing with the CMO's cousin's son who needs to get the job for political reasons. Yes, this sucks but it does happen. Perhaps a candidate stronger on paper gets moved along in lieu of someone with a personality best fit for a particularly challenging client. Or, perhaps another candidate is chosen because they'd mesh best with the company culture.
There are a slew of reasons that could rule you out of a job, but the most important thing to remember is that many times, dare I say most times, those things are out of your control.
But, it's always good to take opportunities to stop and improve your game.
If you're getting rejected right off the bat, maybe you should look at your resume again. Are there ways you can improve it? Perhaps you need to make it more concise. Maybe you need to elaborate more on accomplishments and metrics to show your success on specific projects. Maybe you have grammar and spelling mistakes you didn't notice. Maybe you have a gap that you haven't explained.
The same goes for your cover letter. Look back at it to make sure it's not just repeating what's on your resume. Rather, use that real estate to further showcase who you are, your unique skillset and what you bring to the table.
But what if it is about your qualifications? Perhaps you're applying to positions you don't quite qualify for, in which case you need to review your years of experience, education and skill set to determine what types of positions are best suited for you.
You may also want to consider brushing up on your interview skills to make sure you're ready to communicate your skills and values in the most compelling way to your interviewers.
All in all, know that hiring is mostly about math and timing. Almost always, companies will receive far more applications than positions they have available so a rejection is far more likely. Just hold tight, keep improving and learning from each application and interview and trust that a door will open somewhere, some how.