Not Getting Hired? 10 Reasons Why

You don't understand. You updated your résumé, you're applying to jobs every day, you've cleaned up your digital dirt and you network every day. Yet here you still are on the unemployment list. What is wrong with employers?

Unfortunately, many job seekers don't stop to consider that the problem might not be employers but themselves.

It's a hard concept that most job seekers have trouble wrapping their heads around, but applicants frequently (and inadvertently) display signs that tell an employer that they're not the best fit for the job.

According to a 2009 CareerBuilder survey, 47 percent of employers said that finding qualified applicants is their biggest hiring challenge. When asked to identify the most valuable characteristics in new hires, employers cited multitasking, initiative and creative problem-solving.

Do you lack what employers want? Yes, there are fewer jobs and there is more competition, but are you doing everything you can? Here are 10 reasons why employers might have passed you by.

1. You lie

Any lies you tell in your job search, whether on your résumé or in an interview, will come back to haunt you. In a 2008 CareerBuilder survey, 49 percent of hiring managers reported they caught a candidate lying on his or her résumé; of those employers, 57 percent said they automatically dismissed the applicant. Everything you tell an employer can be discovered, so it behooves you to be honest from the get-go. If you're concerned about something in your past, invention is not the answer. Use your cover letter to tell your story, focusing on your strengths and accomplishments and explaining any areas of concern if needed.

2. You have a potty mouth

It's certainly tempting to tell anyone who will listen how big of a (insert expletive here) your current boss is, but a hiring manager for a new job is not that person. A 2009 CareerBuilder survey showed that 44 percent of employers said that talking negatively about current or previous employers was one of the most detrimental mistakes a candidate can make. Find a way to turn those negative things job into positives. If you can't get along with your co-workers, for example, tell the prospective employer that you're looking for a work environment where you feel like you're part of a team and your current position doesn't allow for that kind of atmosphere.

3. You don't show long-term potential

Employers want people in their organization to work their way up, so it's best to show that you want to and can grow with the company. If you were asked where you see yourself in five years and you gave an answer that wasn't related to the position or company you're interviewing with, kiss your chances goodbye. Ask questions like, "What type of career movement do you envision for the most successful candidate in this role?" It shows that you have envisioned your future at the company.

4. You have serious digital dirt

Social networking sites and online searches are the newest way that many employers are checking up on prospective hires. A 2009 CareerBuilder survey showed that 45 percent of employers use social networking sites to research candidates. Thirty-five percent of those employers found content that caused them to dismiss the candidate. Make sure to remove any photos, content or links that can work against you in an employer's eyes.

5. You don't know ... well, anything

In two separate 2009 CareerBuilder surveys, 58 percent of employers said that coming to the interview with no knowledge of the company was a turnoff, and 49 percent said that not asking good questions cost candidates a job offer. Plain and simple, do your homework before an interview. Explore the company online, prepare answers to questions and have someone give you a mock interview. The more prepared you are, the more employers will take you seriously.

6. You acted bored, cocky or disinterested

A little enthusiasm never hurt anyone, especially when it comes to a potential new job. Forty-five percent of employers in a 2009 CareerBuilder survey said that the biggest mistake candidates made in the interview was appearing disinterested and 42 percent said appearing arrogant cost applicants the job. Every business wants to put their most enthusiastic people forward with important clients and customers, so acting the opposite will get you nowhere.

7. You were a little too personal

Seventeen percent of employers said that candidates who provided too much personal information in the interview essentially blew their chances at the job, according to a 2009 CareerBuilder survey. Not only does personal information offend some people, but anytime you talk about topics such as your hobbies, race, age or religion, you're setting yourself up for bias. Though it's illegal for employers to discriminate against applicants because of any of these factors, some will do so, regardless.

8. You were all dollars, no sense

As a general rule of thumb, you should never bring up salary before the employer does. Doing so is tacky and makes the employer think that you care about the money involved, not about helping the employer succeed. If the topic does arise, however, be honest about your salary history. Employers can verify your salary in a matter of minutes these days, so lying only makes you look bad.

9. You didn't -- or can't -- give examples

Hiring managers want people who can prove that they will increase the organization's revenues, decrease its costs or help it succeed in some way. If all you give to an employer is a bunch of empty words about your accomplishments, you don't demonstrate how you can help the company. In fact, 35 percent of employers said that the most detrimental mistake candidates make is not providing specific examples in the interview. The more you can quantify your work, the better.

10. You don't have enough experience

Managers don't have as much time as they used to to train and mentor new employees. The more experience you have, the more likely you are to hit the ground running without a lot of hand-holding. The best way to show that you know what you're doing is to give the employer concrete examples of your experience in a given job duty.

Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow her on Twitter:

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I have been unemployed for over a year. Last year I worked two temp positions. I have been on many interviews and have yet to be hired. I think I am a poor interviewer twice I was dumbfounded to give an answer about the process of doing my job. I am very skilled in my position and have the education to back it up. I am hopeful that I will find work before my unemployment runs out.

February 17 2010 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What on earth is #4, "Vicky" ranting and raving about??? It doesn't make sense. Now, to address the age discrimination. I have had two instances in which it wasn't said, but they hired someone much younger. I know the discrimination is out there, and the competition is much stronger now in the hard times we are facing. I am 47 now and unemployed. I have over 25 years of sales, PR, and marketing experience. I think one of the reasons why they hire younger is because they would take less money. I would take less money at this point! I try to point out my years of experience and how much more I know about handling customers and accounts, but the fact is, they can also train a younger person to do things exactly the way they want them to handle things and they are less likely to carry bad habits with them. I don't think it will ever get better, only worse. Now that employers have had a taste of the competition for the few jobs out there, coupled with the fact they can train and pay the younger people less, we are just old farts who are not needed. I suggest we all go into business for ourselves and do what we have always wanted to do for a change!! We can rule our own lives. I am going to start a decorating business. If it doesn't work out, oh well. I haven't lost anything, considering there is no overhead. Get out there and do something you enjoy and let the younger people take over corporate America, they can't do much worse than our generation did if you think about it....

February 17 2010 at 4:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Beth's comment

Yes young people are willing to take less money, but we still need to live and pay bills and loans. In some cases, I almost feel pressured to ask for more to fulfill the amount due for the above.

Many places I have interviewed with are not willing to train new hires. Or they say they will but find reasons not to, or train you to do more, but don't pay you more. When I come in saying how I'd like to move up and learn more, they almost take it as I don't know enough or am not interested in the position that is open. When I actually am! That's why I am there. I know there are stepping stones, I just want to be clear I don't want to be comfortably stuck at the bottom. That's actually not so comfortable, for me at least.

February 17 2010 at 4:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I moved to virginia three and half years ago,i have taken a computer course ,volunteered,allot of networking,on-call(which haven't called in a year).very motivated.leaving my home in mass,had three jobs which i loved,gave me referral letters which i did not ask for,which made me feel i was appreciated.i have noticed because of age,race is a big issue here,i am at a standstill.i recently went to lowes for a job,had orientation which consisted of answering attitude questions,two days later got a letter stating they were not hiring ,but still have sign out front,what is going on????being in my 50's have had a lot of jobs which i stayed with all of them more than 5 years.discrimnation,i hate that word.but is truly going on.

February 15 2010 at 12:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, and there is also a hell of a lot of age discrimination going on. I have been in 2 interviews where they actually came out and said 'We were looking for someone younger'... I am a gorgeous 40+ woman, who looks 30.

I recently saw an ad that said "No more than total 5 years working experience'. So, if you graduated from college - with a doctorate - that means they will not hire anyone over 29 years old.

This has become a dirty game to find a job. And it IS necessary to lie on your resume, because if you put your total work experience on there - assuming the employer can count - they will KNOW you are over 35.

It's disgusting. And I have every single one of the attributes you listed above.

January 12 2010 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to none's comment

Did you know you can sue a company that tells you they are not hiering you because of your age! The fact that they said it to your face! WOW

January 26 2010 at 6:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Are you burning both ends of the candle? You are pointing out "MANAGERS JOBS" 49% hiring and 57%fired for lieing. What about the rest of the work force, are we lieing too? You know just becuase some of us have family and are just trying to get by and get a job doesn't mean you can label everyone in general, for me I got experience in what I do. I'm not good at interviews, I don't know much about "résumés", but I'm very good at what I do. By backing that statement up I worked for someone for two weeks strait for no money knowing I could do the job. If the emplorer doesn't like my work then I walk away without regrets. Where you, you get information and come out directly pin pointing that everyone has some fault. What about yourself? You got a job, this is what you do for a living right, critism givin out without second thought? Remind me to never come to you for a job application. If your saying that, "5. You don't know ... well, anything", I would stop to wonder how open your mind is. And having, "serious digital dirt", doesn't necessaryly mean that those being pinned are those who have caused the issue to come up. Gossip, I might add, is very common now, even online. People post whatever they want for stupid unconditioned reasons in which those like you would never understand unless you were the one being targeted. And saying that people like us have a "potty mouth", only condemns what your saying right now. Saying that, "You lie", in an open arrticle such as this is just unconditional and irrevecabley saying that other people are lower than the employers. And that is just one of many insulting things I, and I'm sure many others, could point out. It is not always the people who are trying to get employed that are the fault. "Unfortunately, many job seekers don't stop to consider that the problem might not be employers but themselves." Although you say that employers could be a problem and so could those looking for a job, but in a world where people are misunderstood by each other do you really think it is necessary to point out something so obvious. People never like to hear what they don't like and obviously your saying something that they don't like. But remind yourself that not only does this inticipate future problems but also rousels up attention in which many would point out as "unnessary." Everyone has a place in society, or so they think, and that only proves how inconsiderate, insulting, and obnoxious people "like you" can be.

January 12 2010 at 12:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have not had to look for a job for a long time. I have been out of work, taking seasonal jobs, whatever I can get for about 2 years now. How do I know which of the above is my downfall for getting a longterm lasting job which is what I am looking for. I have filled out many applications (on the internet since that seems to be the way it's done now a days), and I just get junk, or I don't get anything. I have left 2 jobs because of bad business practice on the part of the company, how do you be honest about that when you need references?

January 12 2010 at 9:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I will NOT remove anything I say on social networks because it's all in fun. If employers are going to look into MySpace, Facebook and whatnot. Then they need to take things with a grain of salt. Life is about having fun, not about living in fear of it! Geez! Also, I've had employers interviewing me get a bit personal with their personal life and I was surprised.
So, it's double standard, huh? That's rich.

My problem is that it looks like I don't hold my jobs long. What employers are missing is that I have had to move around a lot due to my now ex-husbands line of work. They don't ask and it's not allowed in job applications either. It wasn't my doing that I had to leave my job. When you're married, you support the spouse and that's what I was doing. But I guess employers don't care about that either. I became a stay at home mother and worked when I could.

Employers need to put things in perspective and they're not.
But when that day comes when the shoe is on the other foot, it's too late. Because it's going to happen and it's slowly happening now.

January 12 2010 at 8:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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