Career advice articles litter the Internet; how to write a cover letter, how to write a CV, how to interview well, how to sell yourself, how to get your dream job etc. etc.
Most articles repeat the same-old, same-old sage advice that quite frankly, as a serious career seeker, you should already know. Some try to get creative with clever intros and themes but most simply skim the surface of what is a really a very deep and desperate issue. They tiptoe around the truth with euphemisms, politically correct phrases, positive reinforcement and soft sensitively-written advice.
Well, at the risk of being rude, we think it’s time for some cold hard truth; a harsh reality check. Instead of more ‘how-to’ advice, Quest tells us why so many career seekers suck at getting a call back, never mind a job!
You fooled yourself, but you can’t fool us
You do not have the qualifications and skills required for the job. “No amount of smooth talking or charm can hide the fact that you do not meet the minimum requirements of the job, especially in an interview or when assessments are conducted,” says Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions, Africa’s leading staffing solutions company in the white collar recruitment industry.
Your references were either not available or unsuitable; nominating a colleague, friend or family member as a reference holds no merit, references need to be individuals who are able to give an unbiased and accurate account of your skills and behaviour, ideally direct management or in positions of authority.
Unexplained big gaps in your employment record will never go unnoticed. Provide honest reasons as to why you were or are out of work and be prepared to discuss these in an interview.
Your online reputation preceded you
Let’s be honest here, every recruiter or potential employer will search your name on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and similar. Not necessarily to dig up dirt but to look at how highly you regard your own image and reputation and therefore how respectfully you will look after theirs.
“Ensure that your privacy settings are set on your social media profiles and be careful about what you make public, and remember what goes online, stays online,” says Vittee.
You were rude
You arrived late for your interview. Even a few minutes late is not on. Very often the interviewer has other interviews scheduled before and after yours and your poor timekeeping messes with theirs.
You dressed inappropriately. Poor attire and lack of care for how you look shows disrespect and can make the worst kind of first impression.
You were too familiar too soon. A professional greeting is so important. ‘Hi’, ‘howzit’, ‘what’s up’ and a fist bump do not qualify.
Your body language was all-wrong. “So much can be said without words,” says Vittee. “Arms folded, wondering eyes, fidgeting, tapping foot etc. all send out unspoken messages.” Be sure to present yourself confidently, positively and honestly.
You badmouthed your previous employer and this is an absolute no-no!
You were unprepared
You did not do your homework on the company and your silly questions revealed that. Find out all you can about your potential employer.
You had nothing to ask. “This not only shows that you are not taking this opportunity seriously, it shows that you are not taking your career seriously. Prepare questions that demonstrate that you did your research and that you have some knowledge and insight into the business, the industry and how well you can contribute to both,” advises Vittee.
You were too money hungry
You asked about salary too soon. Let the interviewer be the first to raise the subject of remuneration, and only if they don’t, do you.
Your salary expectations were unrealistic. “Look at salary surveys and industry reports on what the average salary for your job type and seniority is, this will give you sound support for your expectations,” says Vittee.
You didn’t say thank you
You did not send an email to the interviewer saying thank you for his or her time. This is also a great way to remind him or her of you and ensure they have your correct contact information right at hand.
Then there are some reasons that have nothing to do with you and in these cases you should not take the rejection personally, but in all other cases, do – it’s your career after all:
The job was cancelled because of budget or organisational issues
The job was filled internally
You are not a cultural match to the organisation
As much as the truth hurts, it empowers. Now go get that job!