When you face a job search setback, such as not getting hired after an interview, where do you place the blame? The economy? Your age, race or gender? The foolishness of hiring managers? Blaming external factors over which you have little control may be convenient, but it probably does little to advance your job search.
It’s true, the economy is struggling. There is a lot of competition for every job opening. It’s OK to acknowledge those factors. But consider: When you apply for a job and are not hired, someone else got the job. How did they overcome all the obstacles to getting hired and succeed? The most common reasons include:
- They presented themselves as the best person to solve problems for the company
- They had chemistry or “fit” with the hiring manager, the team and the work environment
- They came highly recommended
- They highlighted their match to the job requirements
- They effectively tied their past successes to the current needs and as a promise of future value
The reality is someone got the job because, out of all the applicants, they did the best job at most or all of the items above.
With those factors in mind, there is little reason to assume you were not hired due to an external factor such as age or the number of applicants. By jumping to that conclusion, job seekers prevent themselves from self-examination and improvement. A job seeker recently said to me “I matched all their requirements. I had the experience they wanted. I did a good job in the interview. So it must be my age. What else could it be?” There are a lot of things it could be:
- You matched their requirements but didn’t make that clear to them
- You had the right experience but didn’t tie your past success to future value for the company
- You believe you interview well, but you haven’t checked that with anyone by doing a practice interview
- You were so confident you were right for the job, you came off as arrogant or off-putting
- You failed to create rapport and connection with interviewers
- You didn’t find and use an inside connection to learn more about the position or to introduce you to the company and hiring manager
There are many reasons why people don’t get hired. Assuming it’s an external factor may stop you from uncovering the true underlying problem and resolving it. Learn more about how to uncover the real reasons and learn from them by reading “Handling Rejection”.
Don’t Bother With Blame
When my child loses a soccer game, he is likely to say “Boy, that referee was really unfair,” or “The other team sure played dirty,” or “It’s not fair they have a better practice facility.” Any of those statements may or may not be true. The tough-love in me comes out when I say “Don’t waste time placing blame. The other team won because they got more points. They got more points because they played better.” All you can control is your own performance on the field, and in your job search. Play the best game you can. Practice harder than anyone else. Show up with the most energy and enthusiasm. Apply a better strategy. Own your own success.