Why Do Good Job Seekers Get Rejected?

Why Do Good Job Seekers Get Rejected?

(or, the story behind CV4.biz, and our philosophy)

This is quite a simple page on this website, but one that I hope answers a lot of your questions about why we are here providing a Professional CV Service.

In background

After 22years in international telecoms, and five years in corporate cost reduction, I was asked to come into the recruitment sector. Now I had done recruitment before: both on the Channel Tunnel; and then building my own engineering team which had a speciality in both call centres as well as international partner deals. My team looked after BT’s relationship with both MCI and latterly AT&T. Up until I left BT, I had recruited over 1000 people, and interviewed many more.

Like many professionals, managers and executives who come into the recruitment industry later in their career, I was recruited because of the size/scale of my address book and contacts database, not because I had a huge love of recruitment. In fact at the end of my first week, I was pretty sure that I would walk out the door and never return, having become convinced that it was the last bastion of the photocopier salesperson.

The Recruitment problem

The problem I saw as an operational manager, and that I still see today in the whole recruitment and employment market place, is that we treat our fellow human beings like pieces of meat. They are not really people with thoughts, personalities and warm bodies, but commodities and things to be tested, pushed prodded and then potentially interviewed in something even the most hardened criminal investigator would consider tough!

One of the latest systems to ease the problem for the employer of recruitment – the corporate job applicant application and tracking system – is seen by potential employees as a cold and indiscriminate wall. It doesn’t care how many CV/resumes you chuck at it, so why not apply every day? Yet, having not programmed in either the human scale response or even the simplistic automated eMail, we in recruitment and HR wonder why we get three or more CV’s from the same applicant?

The turning point

End of week1 for me in recruitment, and I am thinking about leaving. My great fiend who got me into the company rang me up and asked how it had gone, and I was open and frank:

Why do good job seekers get rejected?

So knowing me as well as he did, he suggested that I turn it into a project. Three months later that project became CV4.biz, a different service based on my learning of answering that question.

In truth, I still don’t think that I or any member of our team know the answer wholly. I estimate that I am at best personally 90% of the way there after five years. That’s in part because the market and technology keeps continually changing. But the basics are easy to understand, and what goes on in front of all this technological confusion, is that still at the end of the day:

People employ people!

Five years of learning

Like any good engineer, I decided to answer my question by tracking both the good, the unsuccessful and the bad job applicants. The differences between them would show me where the solution to my question – and hence successful quick job seeking – lay.

The simple statistics of job applications are as follows:

  • 1/3 do not have the required Skills, Qualifications and Experiences combination: why do people apply for jobs when they don’t have the required SQE? At first I thought it was because people couldn’t read! Then I realised that it wasn’t people, it was mainly men. After five years of learning, I conclude that this is in part explained by ambition, and man’s basic need to improve and develop. It’s what I now call the biologic. These people are rightly rejected!
  • 1/3 do have the right SQE, but don’t communicate it: That’s right, we as an industry reject job applicants who are qualified to do our jobs but who don’t communicate this in their job application. When I first started out, as an ex-operational manager I thought that we should be helping these people. As my recruitment career and knowledge developed, I recognised that most white collar professional job seekers also thought that this was the purpose of recruitment agencies. But as my HR colleagues would quickly then pint out, actually part of the test of a job applicant is their ability to communicate with that organisation: can’t communicate, should be rejected. This sector of job applicants was around whom I created and formed CV4.biz: professional job seekers who want a career chnage or next job, but didn’t know how to do it or were confused at their continual rejection. I quickly recognised that the answer that they needed was more than a CV, but a whole job application system. As an engineer I developed that system, but a good friend – Jackie Walker, who is NLP trained – pointed out that on a human level, that system I had devised was simply creating better rapport at a human level; and that’s what successful job seekers do.
  • 1/3 have the required SQE and are able to communicate it: These are the people who get through the CV sifting stage, and hence could be employed

The recession and competition issue…

So, what has the global recession added to job application? Simply:

  • 2008: on average, 30 applications per job advert
  • 2011: on average, 120 applications per job advert

But they are still split down the thirds rule, resulting in around 40 good and communicative job applications. But what the insiders know is pretty simple, and it explains more about why good job seekers get rejected.

The Recruiter/Human Resources issue

To fulfil one job, the Recruiter/HR professional ONLY needs…

  • 1 person to accept the job, and one back-up
  • 3 people to undertake the job interview
  • 6 people to Telephone interview

So do they need the other 30 good and communicative job applicants = NO! So even if you have the right SQE combination and can communicate it, you still stand a high chance of rejection. Even for the best and most qualified job seekers, their need is wider than a great Professional CV.

The reality of Jobs Boards

I have talked a lot about Jobs Boards on the CV4.biz blog, and that’s because they seem like the complete and ultimate panacea answer for the average job seeker: lots of available and well paying jobs. The reality is a lot different. Job boards make money from:

  •  Placing jobs adverts from employers/recruiters on their job board
  • Selling job applicants CV’s to employers, recruiters and anyone else willing to pay: if you read the terms and conditions, then you would recognise this. In fact, this is now an equal or greater revenue stream for most jobs boards than selling jobs adverts, and makes up most of the value in the sale of a jobs board. Other buyers, apart from those potentially interested in employing you, include credit reference agencies

But lets come back to basics here. Simple analysis of job applications processed via job boards shows that:

At best, you stand a 12% chance of getting interviewed from a job application

The same statistic is true of using a companies job application system. Part of the problem is the “cold” job application wall:

  • As it’s so easy to apply, more candidates can apply for more jobs more quickly
  • The jobs boards and company job applications systems are seen as “cold process-driven computers,” and companies compound this problem by giving little progress/feedback, if any

What’s the answer to the cold jobs board problem for all job seekers?

  • Set up your alerts on week1 of your job search, and then forget about them! I heard this piece of advise three years ago from a leading North American jobs board owner, in interview, and thought: “Wow, how to blow your own industry up!” But actually he’s totally right. If you know what you want, then simply set-up your alerts on day1 of your job search, and then forget about them. Unsuccessful job seekers tend to both spend most of their time on jobs boards, and change their alerts regularly because Any Job Will Do
  • If you find an interesting job advertised, DON’T apply via the jobs boards: go direct to the recruiter or employer
  • If you really want to work for that company, AVOID their job application system, until… well, the answer to that is contained within our Professional CV Service, but the start is with research

Still think the answer is a better CV?

Before we came into the Professional CV Writing market,  I read a lot and created a few tests from my, a recruiter and ex-operational hiring managers view point, as to what a good CV looked like. One of those tests you can read on the page at Why Was I Rejected, which simply walks you through how a recruiter, HR professional or hiring manager reads a CV.

If it can’t pass these simple tests, then no matter what you or the writer claim, its not even professional, let alone executive in quality. I also laugh at CV Service providers who add cost by printing out your CV on better quality paper. The job application market has changed so quickly in the past 10 years, that while in 2000 90% of job applications were process via paper, now 90% are processed via some form of internet enabled system.

What are the lessons for the good job seeker,

who doesn’t want to get rejected?

I have spent five years of my life collecting this data, and trying to find a best way for the good professional job seeker to get employed. In part I now know that to be different between certain types of markets, be they technical jobs or local jobs. But the main lessons that I can give the new job seeker are in summary as follows:

  • 2/3rds of job applications are rejected because the CV doesn’t confirm that the job applicant has the right combination of Skills, Qualifications and Experiences
  • The rise in job application competition means even if you are right for that job, you could still get rejected: You need to find a better way of applying
  • The reality of Job Boards is that you only stand a 12% of a Telephone Interview: Set up your alerts, use them as research, apply directly to the company
  • If you don’t confirm that you have the required Skills, Qualifications and Experiences in the first half page of your CV, you will get rejected

Like any form of skill, job application is a learnt skill. The more you do it, the better you get at it. But if yo and I ever talk on the phone, you will know that one of my favourite sayings is:

I bet you buy carpet more often than you job seek

I created this to explain to good professional job seekers why they were getting rejected:

  • Job seeking is a learnt skill. The more you do it the better you get at it
  • The reality is that the last time you had this skill was probably at least three years ago
  • To now regain this skill its a learning process through rejection. You’ll learn every time you apply, and in the mean time you’ll keep getting rejected

Our service is aimed at professional job seekers: its not just a CV Writing Service, its a coached job application system. If you have found this story interesting, and want to learn more about how we could help you gain employment quickly and successfully, then submit your existing CV to our Free CV Review Service. Alternatively, if you want to progress now, order our Professional CV Service, and we look forward to working with you.

I hope that you have found this page entertaining and educational, and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us here.

What ever your choice, Good Luck in your Job Search!

With Best Regards,



Ian R McAllister

Founder and Principle, CV4.biz


Be Sociable, Share!
You are angels! My CV was been turned from a four page long and rambling life story to a job winning document - yes, I am now employed. I have no hesitation in recommending your services.
Barbara, HR Professional.

I am writing to thank you for your professional approach. Although successful in business, I realise now that a professional CV makes all the difference to gaining a job, however impressive my previous achievements are. I now have both a focused initial CV and a referenced and structured portfolio to back up my career achievements, which with a dynamic approach resultantly helped me to secure a number of interviews.
Graham, Divisional Managing Director.

More Testimonials

Review cv4.biz on alexa.com