4 Simple Reasons You Didn’t Get the Job

UPDATED: December 15, 2016
PUBLISHED: December 14, 2016

You submitted what you thought was a great résumé. But for some reason, you didn’t get the job.

What went wrong?

Even if you know how to write a great résumé, some things can still hold back an otherwise excellent candidate. Find out whether your résumé got trashed for one of the four reasons below and what you can do to fix it:

Related: 13 Simple Steps to Land the Job You Want

1. You didn’t tailor your résumé to the position.

A shocking 50 percent of people don’t meet the basic requirements of jobs they apply for. The majority of job seekers spend less time reading a job description than they think—nearly half (44 percent) believe they spend up to five minutes reading when they spend less than a minute. It’s crucial to really study the job description before you start tweaking your résumé.

So first thing’s first: You need to tailor your résumé to the position. And the only way to do that is to thoroughly read the job description so you know what skills to include and expand upon.

In the end, recruiters want to see the skills they asked for in the job offer. When considering how to construct a résumé, it’s all about adding those keyword skills from the job description throughout your résumé. If you haven’t done this, it could be a big part of why you didn’t get the job.

2. You job-hopped.

How long do you typically stay with one company? If it’s around a year, you’re not alone. Most young adults in the U.S. hold an average of 7.2 jobs by the time they’re 28. That’s roughly one a year if you start at 18.

Furthermore, your taste for job-hopping is an expensive one. In fact, it can cost a company six to nine months of an employee’s salary to find and train a new employee. Good recruiters will avoid hiring job-hoppers unless they find information that could offset their cost and risk.

You have to show a hiring manager that you’re worth it. That the value you will bring to the company is going to outweigh the cost you’ll generate. You can do that by adding quantifiable accomplishments to your résumé.

For example:

  • Generated $5,000 in cost savings after negotiating a new contract with vendors
  • Increased sales by 15 percent after implementing automated email campaigns

Give the impression that you’ll generate fantastic value for the company even if it’s only for a short time.

Related: 10 Best Practices for Making a Good Impression

3. You haven’t had a job in six months.

If you haven’t had a job in six months, that’s probably the reason why you didn’t get the job now. Having too many jobs is a problem, and having too few is worse.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are more than 7 million unemployed Americans. Of those, 2 million are in a state of long-term unemployment (more than a month).

If you fall into the six-month category, it’s almost impossible to get a job because hiring managers won’t even look at your résumé.

So what can you do? You need to give your résumé to someone who knows that you’re worth it. Start by building a LinkedIn profile and leveraging your network to look for open positions and referrals.

Around 40 percent of all hires come from job referrals, even though they make up only 7 percent of applications. If someone vouches for you from the inside, you’re much more likely to land the job.

If you don’t have an inside connection, contact a hiring manager without a referral. Send a message via LinkedIn that offers something of value and provides a convincing reason to connect. Once you’ve made positive contact, you can send your résumé directly to the hiring manager along with a personalized email.

4. You’re overqualified for the position.

Let’s say you applied for a lower-ranking position to have a better work-life balance. You might not have gotten the job because your résumé confused the recruiters. Why would you apply for a job that’s “beneath” you?

It’s best to anticipate such confusion. Tell the hiring manager that you know what you’re applying for and you have your reasons. You can do that in a well-written résumé summary and cover letter.

Maybe you’ve applied for a job that’s “beneath” you to make ends meet. And when you applied for a job more in line with your career path, you didn’t get it. That’s because working a job that is “beneath you” might hurt your chances of getting back on your career path.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t work as a barista after graduation. Consider taking on extra work, be it volunteer, nonprofit, freelance or internships—something more in line with your career path even if it’s unpaid.

Put that experience at the top of your résumé to show that you’ve developed your primary skill set despite any setbacks.

If you didn’t get a job for one of these reasons, you can always improve your résumé and get the next one. It takes some forethought and effort, but it’s possible. Take the time to think about how you’ll come across to recruiters and you just might land your next interview.

Related: 5 Things to Do Before Your Next Job Interview

Natalie Sever

Natalie Severt is a writer at Uptowork - Your Resume Builder. She writes about how to create successful résumés so that you can land your dream job.