You'll probably never know exactly why you didn't get the job. If you're like most job seekers, it will remain an unsolved mystery. Most employers do not provide useful feedback for fear of legal ramifications or other hostile actions on the part of unhired applicants.
That said, there are typical reasons that may explain why you did not get the job:
Your resume didn't make a clear case for your qualifications. You did not articulate a connection between your skills and accomplishments and the employer's needs. It's likely that a computer scanning system, known as an applicant tracking system, reviewed your resume for keywords and phrases necessary to match you to the employer's needs. Even if it is very clear to you that you're well suited for the job, it's your responsibility to make sure that you demonstrate your skills and accomplishments in your resume. Do not rely on a cover letter or any other documentation you may send with your application to describe key reasons why you are well suited to the job. It's possible your target employer will not even see that information until you pass the resume screen.
There were grammatical or spelling errors on your application materials. This complaint often comes up when employers and recruiters gripe about job seekers. Especially if you are applying for a job that involves writing letters or correspondence, such as an administrative assistant, one typo or error can make the difference between landing an interview or not. It's difficult to proofread something you wrote yourself, so consider asking an eagle-eyed friend to review your cover letter and resume before you send them in. Alternatively, try to read your resume backwards. Of course, always spell-check your work, but be aware that spell-check doesn't pick up every error.
You were unqualified or overqualified. This is another common recruiter complaint. Many job seekers apply for every job that seems reasonable to them, but employers may consider the candidate ill-suited to the job. As a rule, do not expect interviews as a result of applying for positions you are overqualified or not quite qualified to do.
Employers filled the position internally. Sometimes, employers advertise jobs they intend to fill internally. When this happens, you never had a chance at an interview, anyway. It's frustrating for job seekers, but an unfortunate fact of the job search.
You already are asking for special favors in the interview stage. Consider this an interview killer. If you seem demanding or inflexible during the interview stage, assume the employer will worry about how you'd act once you have the job.
You didn't seem very interested during the interview. Once you win an interview, you have a lot more control over your chances to land a job. While you don't want to be overly solicitous, as employers may interpret that as desperation, you should muster energy and some enthusiasm for the job. When you describe your skills and why you are a good fit, make sure you communicate your interest and that you don't come off as a cold fish. Your interviewer will be looking for examples of specific skills in your answers, but he or she is also evaluating your personality and deciding if it is a fit for the team.
You don't do a good job distinguishing your personal contributions in your current or previous job. During the interview, you don't want to take 100 percent credit for everything in your work history, but it's important to avoid too much "we" language when you talk about what you've done in the past. Make it clear what accomplishments you own and separate them from the team's accomplishments.
You said something inappropriate in the interview. Did you let it slip that your boss was a real jerk? Did you make an off-handed comment putting down a team member? Did you get a little too comfortable in a lunch interview and use language more appropriate for the locker room than the boardroom? Even in an informal environment, don't let your guard down during an interview: everything you say can, and will, be held against you.
Your references were unenthusiastic. Do not underestimate the value of a strong work reference. If you come close on every job, but don't wind up with an offer, rethink your references. Could they be saying something that causes the employer to hesitate? Consider identifying new people to vouch for you.
Employers found inappropriate or questionable information about you online. Expect employers to Google your name and to find photos and comments posted on social media profiles. If there is anything online that may cause the employer to question your judgment, expect the hiring manager to take a pass instead of a chance on hiring you.
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