Recently, I had someone email me with the following situation:
“Dear Linda, I have applied for several jobs within my current company with no positive outcome. I ask for feedback as to what I could have done differently in the interviews, but they just won’t offer feedback. In fact, I’ve often (4 times now) been at the very end of the interview process and each time the decision is not to hire me. I don’t get it. I have a good HR record, I’m always a high contributor, I have won awards and I have a development plan online on the company intranet site. I just can’t seem to get any feedback from the people I interview with and I’m getting frustrated by this. I just want to know what it is that’s keeping me from being hired. Any feedback or advice you can offer me would be greatly appreciated! Sincerely, Denied for jobs!”
This is a very common situation and there could be several explanations for why “Denied for Jobs” is not getting the jobs he’s been interviewing for. Let’s look at a few of them to gain some perspective.
- Not interviewing well. D might have a glowing HR record and a lengthy list of achievements but may not be doing a good job of communicating his strengths and accomplishments in the interview process. And if D is up against other candidates, D might not fare as well in comparison to the other candidates if they are much better at articulating their strengths and accomplishments. The interview process is not the same as actually doing the job. You must be able to clearly articulate why you are the best person for the job and the strengths you bring to the new role.
- Not prepared for interview process. D might be assuming that his hard work and contribution speaks for itself and should be enough to secure the job, but it is not. Many people who go through an interview process are ill prepared and not practiced in the art of interviewing. Preparation and practice are key to successful interviews. Check out my earlier blog on the subject of how to stand out and land your dream job. http://resultscatalyst.ca/blog/?p=715
- Missing the mark on required skills. D might be missing some required or soft skills needed to do the job or may simply not be communicating them well enough. While required skills may be considered table stakes, often the soft skills like collaboration, communication, impact and influence are more subjective and may not be stressed in a job posting or even in an interview. Make sure you connect the dots for the interviewer by highlighting not only the identified required skills you bring to the table but also other desirable soft skills that make you a strong candidate. And if you are missing any key skills. Make sure you develop a plan to close any skills gaps so you are ready the next time.
- Indispensible in current role. D might have become indispensible in his current role. Sometimes it happens gradually as a result of saying “yes” to everything that comes your way, taking on way more than your fair share of the workload. D may have become the workhorse, the person in his department that everyone depends on. The boss may even have a vested interest in hanging onto D. And if this is an accurate description, it may be high time to ask yourself how you might be enabling the situation.
- Not having sponsorship. D might have support for applying and interviewing for other roles within his organization. But does he have sponsorship? Support is the go ahead to put yourself out there and apply for the position. Sponsorship on the other hand, is more like advocacy. You need strong advocates especially when you are applying for internal job opportunities and you need more than just one advocate. While it’s important that your boss advocates on your behalf, building strong relationships across multiple stakeholders will ensure you have sponsors in many areas advocating for you.
My response to D would be to try and determine which of the above situations best describes his reality as D may never get the true feedback he desires. I would also recommend he hire a coach to gain increased self awareness, especially around any blind spots he may have. A coach can assist D in preparing for his next career opportunity.