sometimes it’s not about you

Sometimes it’s not about you.

I’ve rejected a lot of job candidates lately, and an unusual number of them have been fantastic.

When I have tons of great candidates and only one slot to hire for, by definition lots of really good candidates are going to get rejected.

When the job market is at the point it’s currently at and you’re a strong candidate who’s not getting offers, it’s not you. It’s the market. Don’t wonder about what tricks others are using that you don’t know about, or beat yourself up over whether a line in your cover letter wasn’t right or whether you should have answered something differently in the interview, or wonder why employers don’t think you’re worth hiring.

There are no tricks.

If you’re following the type of advice you find here and on similar blogs, and you’re smart, have had good feedback in the past, aren’t arrogant, and have a work ethic, then you do not suck. You might be great.

There are more good candidates than jobs right now.

It’s not you.

{ 13 comments… read them below }

  1. Kristen*

    I need to remember this advice next time I get rejected! It hurts, but I know enough not to take it personally. But, sometimes it's freaking hard not to. I just relocated to a new city and have made it to the final round for two different jobs, only to be told at the last minute that they went with a candidate who had a little more experience. It's just so frustrating because I feel like there will always (especially in this current surplus of excellent candidates) be a candidate with more experience.

  2. George Guajardo*

    As someone neck deep in the job-hunting trenches, it is good to hear this. It's one thing to know it, but it's entirely a different thing to hear it from someone on the "other side."

    It's not quite as good as hearing "you are hired," but its better than the alternatives =)

  3. Inside the Philosophy Factory*

    I'm a philosopher — and we've had a job market significantly worse than this one forever.. So, if you're skilled, educated and unemployed or underemployed — you now know what it's like to be an aspiring academic.

    The other really bad thing about academic jobs is that there is a full-time hiring season–so, you prepare hundreds of application packages, send them all out at the same time and STILL no interviews… then, you know you've pretty much missed the hiring buss for the next year. The next step is to start competing for adjunct positions which pay significantly less than minimum wage and get less respect than student workers.

  4. Sabrina*

    I agree with John. Very easy advice to give, very hard to accept for yourself. I wonder though, how DO you make a decision when you have a lot of great candidates? Dartboard? Rolling a D20? Eeney Meeney Miney Mo?

  5. Laura*

    Thank you so much for posting this. It's nice to be told that, after weeks and weeks of rejection. Thanks.

  6. Anonymous*

    I just had a job interview this week where the interviewer texted (is this even a verb?) while I was answering his questions. This was a new one for me. It took every ounce of comportment to keep smiling and continue answering and not throw the F bomb and walk out.

    I have had decent interviews this past year where I was treated with respect and was given undivided attention, and was asked fair questions, even though I was ultimately not hired. I sincerely appreciated that, since I have had many more where this didn't happen, some of them verging on the comical they were so bad. I hope Mr. Texting gets the hire he deserves, like the others in this article.

    Thanks, though, for the support. But it's so hard not to blame yourself. I am working two part-time jobs, looking for a third (while continuing to look for the elusive full-time one), because they don't even cover my rent, let alone anything else. It's hard not to beat yourself up and wonder where you went wrong, especially when you are capable, creative, and ready to work hard, and learn and do whatever it takes to succeed.

  7. Anonymous*

    Ugh. I was referring both to this post and the one after that (about new hires failing at a jaw-dropping rate, which didn't surprise me in the least, given my experiences with a lot of interviewers this past year). I think these two posts compliment each other. Apologies!

  8. Lacey*

    My friends keep telling me I will find a great job, but after looking for a job (aggressively) for 8 months and having only had 3 interviews in all of that time and getting none of the jobs, it’s hard to believe them. At this point, I’m not even looking for a job I could love – I’m looking for anything. That change is a big deal because I’m currently employed (so much better off than many) but my employer is financially unstable (layoffs and large salary cut for remaining staff) and I feel I could get fired at any moment!

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