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Thursday, March 10, 2011

10 reasons you're not getting hired

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 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 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 mouthIt'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 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 potentialEmployers 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 dirtSocial networking sites and online searches are the newest way that many employers are checking up on prospective hires. A 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, anythingIn 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 disinterestedA 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 personalSeventeen 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 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 senseAs 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 examplesHiring 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 experienceManagers 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.

By Rachel Zupek, CareerBuilder writer


  1. How about getting hired, accepting a position and then a month later you still don't have a start date??? This has happend twice to me. I don't get it. In all my years of working this is the first time that this has happened.

  2. This article is OK but really during these difficult times some people just don't get hired because of lack of opportunities. What if you don't even make it to getting called. I'm sure companies are receiving so many resumes that most are getting chucked in the garbage. I think networking and getting in through someone you know may be the best bet these days.

  3. Rachel, Most interviewers are not HR specialists. Consider both sides as it helps in the thought process.

    1. You lie? Who would work for an employer that thinks that? Not a way to start any relationship.
    a. Interviewer that believes a candidate lied? Assume they did NOT.
    b. Explain to the applicant what you see that looks wrong. There may be rational explanation or even worse, a mistaken identity or misconception!

    2. Expletives? The interviewer sets the formality and limits by demeanor. Ask if there is some reason that the applicant used the words. There may be a medical or other condition. If not, decide appropriately.

    3. Long term potential?
    Employers and economy create no expectation of future for the employee. Employers that want long term potential, must create that as part of the negotiation.
    Employees, negotiate where your job track will lead, how long it will take to get there. Find out what the ceiling is for you in the company and what winning looks like.

    4. Social web sites? Both parties are at fault. Candidates did not realize that their personal lives will be intruded upon by employers.

    Employers looking on those sites are intruding and making decisions based on other than ability toward the job. They are making decisions based on items that have no bearing on the job or performance. They may actually be violating certain rights even though the site is public. There could even be legal repercussions! Both need to adjust their attitude.

    5. Know the company? Almost EVERY employer brings candidates through agencies. The candidate may not even know the company name, product, or division until hours or minutes before the interview. Teach agents and agencies to properly brief prospects before interviews.

    Unless it is classified, companies need to give all available information of the job well before the interview!

    6. A job interview is FORMAL by definition. The candidate follows the lead of the interviewer! The interviewer is the "professional", it is up to him to have a method of opening up the prospect in a controlled way.

    If you are a candidate and the interviewer doesn’t loosen up the interview, have your sense of humor ready! No "canned" jokes, stay away from politics, sex and anything that could possibly be considered of questionable taste.

    7. (See 6 above) Interviewers, keep just enough formality, you are in control. Candidates, don't get too relaxed but be responsive.

    Candidates, put a wall around your personal life. Think twice before relating anything personal, a bell can not be un-rung! Both parties, stay focused on what you know, have, and are, that will benefit the employer!

    8. Never talk of money or expenses to an employer.
    If an employer asks how much you earned in your last position, reply with "I wont be performing my new duties at those employers, I will be performing for this company.”

    If the interviewer insists that you give your wage information;
    a. Decide whether you want to work for that company, there is no legal, moral, or ethical right to know your past wages for ANY reason.
    b. Consider response with a question such as "Please tell me how much the last two people in the position I am applying for earned".

    If an employer asks how much you need to earn; Ask them "what is the wage range for this position in this company?” If the range is too low then thank the interviewer and excuse yourself.

    9. Have your resume and notes in hand to remind you of the “wins” in your professional experience. Have one story of a loss, or mistake you made just in case it is asked for. Be sure you can elaborate how you turned the loss to a win for everyone.

    10. Not enough experience? If you have less than 4 years professional experience in your field, maybe. Employers in general are accepting low wage for little to no experience.
    Too much experience? Change your resume to ability based. Over 40 years old? Get into the interview room before you give anything that shows your age or years experience.


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