Job Application: why yours was rejected

Friday, March 19th, 2010 - Job Application, Job Application Rejection


Job Application: why yours was rejected

It is only once their job application has been rejected, that most job seekers get an insight in why their job application failed.

Unfortunately this tells them that with some fore thought, they could have figured this out for themselves. Let me help you avoid these common mistakes, and give you some insider advice on how to maximise your job application success

Job Application: it’s a personnel thing

All job applications do not start with the job seeker, but with the employer. A job is approved inside an organisation through the combination of two forces:

  • Business need
  • The manager of the team in which the job will be fulfilled

This is an important insight, as it should tell you that the final decision on who is employed is made by that manager, and that the successful job applicant will be considered the most able to deliver the defined business requirements.

The result of these two forces is the creation of a job description, from which the job advert is derived. Only after the job is approved to this stage, does job application become a personnel process. But not recognising the human beings wholly in the personal exchange – the manager and the successful jobholder – is a key mistake of many job applicants

You and Your Job Search

A job application starts long before you start reading newspapers, crawling job boards, trudging to the Job Centre or chatting to friends. Your job search starts with you, and a clear definition of:

  • Who and what you are
  • What you hence offer (as a business solution)
  • What you want to do/see yourself doing long term

If you don’t know what you want to do, then any job will do, and hence multiple job application rejection will follow

Job Market testing

Although you now know what you want to do, the jobs market may at that point in time not want those exact skills, in that search geography, for the pay level which makes economic sense to you. You need to test that the job market is offering that job at the right pay level, and this is where the real advantage of the jobs board driven job search becomes apparent.

Go to your favourite jobs board, keeping the title/skills consistent and setting the pay level to zero. Then open the geographic search criteria until the result shows at least 20 jobs. If you can’t find at least 20 suitable jobs, then your ideal job presently doesn’t exist in the jobs market. Either: go back to stage1 and think of another interim step to your ideal long term job; wait three months; or accept constant job application upset.

The second problem at this stage is having too many jobs to apply for. Again, go to your favourite jobs board, and if after filling in your desired criteria there are more than 100 job results returned, then go back and more closely define what you offer an employer/seek next and long term. Falling into any job will do syndrome means that you are not focusing sufficiently in the eyes of the employer on what you can do well/offer, and hence will be rejected.

Professional CV

Although it disappoints me to say it, as a Professional CV Writer if you approach your job search in a particular manner, you don’t actually need a Professional CV. But, for 95% of job applications, you will at some point in the legal and hence defined HR process need a CV. In the modern world, a one-size fits all CV just won’t get you the required telephone interview: the only output action required when an employer takes when presented with a good CV.

If like many today you heard a friend or someone in a pub used a free template successfully to get employed, make sure you don’t follow the herd: templates mean you don’t stand out from the crowd. Good Professional CV Writers create engaging 2page documents that make employers pick up the telephone, because they communicate that the job applicant has the desired skills to fit the job description, and show social fit with the organisation/manager. If your template doesn’t, how ever pretty it is or however long your list of hobbies and interests, expect to be rejected

Job Search Source

The one thing that job seekers fail continually to understand, and yet employment professional do, is that you can’t beat the odds of where you find and how you apply for jobs.

For instance, as an internal employee offered a promotion, your chances are 90%. For a known person interacting directly with a recruiting organisation, your chances are around 50%. Your best chance of getting employed via a public job advert, be that on a company website or via newspaper, are around 12% on average. Where as a “follow the process” application via a job sourced on a jobs board could easily be as low as 2%

So why do so many job seekers think that they will be successful spending more than 10% o the time on jobs boards? Rejection is bound into and dictated by the where your find jobs and how you apply

The jobs you choose to apply for

This one as a recruiter is a constant insight into people, as it is the greatest volume point along the job application process of rejection. If you don’t have the skills to do the job, as defined by the job advert, then don’t apply. To pass this stage: read the job advert three times; then take a highlighter pen and outline the required skills/qualifications/experiences; now highlight the exact same phrases in your CV. If you can’t find them, then don’t apply.

Yet everyday, I know that around 1/3rd of job applicants to the positions we post will not have the required minimum skills, qualifications and experiences. Why do job seekers do this? I assume that they can all read as they have a CV, but I presently conclude that this is mans (and woman’s, the statistics are almost equal but slightly less; women are still more cautious) age old need to move forward. These job seekers hence they see this as measured risk: I get rejected, what did I lose? The number of rejected job applications at this stage has risen in the jobs board age, but I personally conclude this is as a result of the ease/lack of cost of multiple job applications.

If your ratio at this stage of the job application process is less than 1 telephone interview in 20 job applications, then your job search has gone wrong in one of the preceding stages.

Telephone Interview

Statistically, the equal greatest point of job application rejection, together with the jobs you choose to apply for. The simple guidance is that the moment you put in a job application, you need to be prepared for a telephone interview.

The purpose of the telephone interview from the employer’s viewpoint is to confirm that you as the job applicant have the claimed skills/qualifications/experiences to the required depth of the job description, and that you have some social fit with the organisation. If you have spent a lot of time putting a great CV together, then you need to spend as much time in the modern job application world on your telephone interview technique. Secondly, if you are getting constantly rejected at this stage, then it is either that: you are choosing the wrong jobs; your CV is over written; or you don’t telephone interview well.

Job Interview

Almost there, but this is not as most job seekers think the final point of job application rejection. The job interview is the point at which to close the job search circle, and prove that you can fulfil the business need of the job, and get on with the team manager. What about fitting the job description? As a recruiter, I know that the more senior the position, the less important the job description is in who is chosen as the final successful job applicant. As I said at the start of this article, the job application is a personnel thing, but it is about human beings: forget that, and prepare to be rejected.

Package negotiation

The final point of job application rejection. While most job seekers leave this like packaging for their summer holidays to the last minute, the seasoned traveller and the seasoned job seeker know that package negotiation starts at the start of the job application process, not as an after thought at the end. A new employer wants you to start yesterday, so firstly know when could you start the job by knowing the contract notice period on your existing contract of employment. Secondly, know that the pay level you seek is above the minimum you need to live on. The bigger the employer, the more likely they are to have a well-defined corporate pay structure, the less room there is for manoeuvrability. Thirdly, focus on the soft issues in negotiation and hence total package vale, over direct pay. HR teams have soft and often unspent budgets in training, moving assistance, car allowances, etc. Don’t lose a job application because you thought the job paid more, and you then focused on getting the pay level upwards.

Job application confidence

This is the last point of job application rejection, and it is a general issue throughout the current job-seeking world: personal confidence. Job seeking in itself is a job, and it is a tough one. There is research, marketing, paperwork, cold calling, direct costs and worst of the lot: a high level rejection. Even the successful job seekers will be rejected at least once, which means that their success ratio is 50%. I haven’t yet met an unsuccessful job seeker who was in some way lacking in self-confidence. It is one of the reasons that I decided to in part cross the divide and become a CV Writer, because universally in most job searches the CV is a common point. If you read through this article, and are still wondering why you are rejected, then after looking in the mirror get out with friends and family and remember what’s important. After taking a break for a day or two, then go back to applying for jobs with renewed vigour, and seek some help in your job search.

A job application is as easy as you make it for yourself, but the one big piece of inside advice you should take to avoid job application disappointment: if you don’t know you, what you offer, and what you want to do, then you will be: REJECTED!

Good Luck!

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