WHY WORSE CANDIDATES GET THE JOB


 

 

 

Seriously, this guy gets the job and can barely work his iPhone?

Seriously, this guy gets the job and can barely work his iPhone?

It’s a common story, right? You’re working hard, doing a great job in your current role, and applying for positions you know you could do. So how come all these other people (who let’s face it, you’re better than) keep getting jobs?

 

Now it’s true there are a few things out of your control – poor HR processes, nepotism, going for a cheaper candidate, seniority, unions… But the good news is that there are a few big factors that you can influence. So let’s dig in and learn more about those annoying people who are scooping up jobs left, right and center.

 

1) They might not have the best product, but they have better marketing

Have you seen the Geico ads? Most of them are super funny. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve laughed at the one with the camel talking about hump day. And I’m not the only one because amazingly, Geico apparently gets tons more traffic to their site on Wednesdays, aka hump day. Geico doesn’t necessarily have a bad product but it’s not necessarily the best either, and yet they’re killing it because of their marketing. Side note: Someone please tell me that cronuts aren’t as good as I think they are because of all the buzz! If I were still in NYC, I might just be one of those people lining up from 7 AM for one.

 

Back to my point… The equivalent of a TV commercial for you is your resume, your cover letter, and your LinkedIn profile to name a few. Have you really invested the time to make these as slick and compelling as possible? So few people do, but if you treat it just like that, an investment, you will reap the benefits. PS. If you’re not already on my VIP list, click here to sign up and get my four-page ultimate resume checklist for resumes that actually lead to interviews.

 

2) They don’t play by the rules

Here’s the funny thing about school/college. You’re taught to play by the rules… Submit the paper on time. Don’t change the margins. Only visit your TA during office hours. Don’t cheat. No plagiarism. I could go on. Now don’t get me wrong – lots of these are good rules. But this kind of approach often backfires in the world of work.

 

People who get jobs easily usually have learned other ways of playing the hiring game. They don’t rely just on job postings, for example. They network, they use their contacts, they set up informational meetings, they call in favors. They might even submit the application as directed, but add writing samples, examples of PPT decks, or great reference letters – even when these weren’t requested. Seem like too much? Often this is exactly what it takes to stand out amid hundreds (yep, hundreds) of other qualified candidates. They don’t just say that they want the job, they show it.

 

3) They’re shameless

Often I talk to people who want to follow up with someone they met but they worry about looking pushy to potential employers. Assuming it’s done well, following up after an interview for example, is super important and you have to do this to show your interest.

 

You also have to keep in mind that when you start applying for things, you’re going to get a lot of rejection. It’s just part of the deal. People who get jobs apply to jobs. They follow up on leads. They write to people after interviews. They circle back when it’s been a week and they haven’t heard more. They also take some ‘risks’, for example applying for jobs even if they don’t meet all the criteria.

 

Similar to my earlier point about having good marketing, they can also talk themselves up at an interview. This isn’t about pretending you’re the world’s best at something or lying about experience you don’t have, but it is about making sure you’re putting your best food forward and that you are effectively showcasing your strengths.

 

4) They don’t give up

People who have an easier time getting jobs are resilient. They don’t give up after a bit, or even a ton, of rejection. If you applied for ten positions and nothing came about, well you’ve got to keep going. You can’t assume that that’s ‘enough’ – whatever that is. Every no is getting you closer to the next yes, and to a certain extent, applications are a numbers game.

 

By the way, applying earlier often gives you a much better chance at the job so don’t be slow to act. Stay on top of the jobs out there, apply early, and apply often/frequently.

 

5) They’re open-minded

Finally, people who get jobs are realistic and open-minded. They may want to work at the Economist but so do a million other people and so they don’t limit their applications to what’s a dream job. By all means, go for it, give it your best shot, but be open to other options too. Think what else you could do to get closer to that dream job – research, communications, political analysis, etc.

 

What do you think? What do you think most typically stops great candidates from getting hired? Leave a comment below.

 

 

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Comments & Responses

3 Responses so far.

  1. […] Now this morning I started reading through things… after hearing about a former staff member of mine moving to a new position… one well above their skill level, I’ve been a bit troubled.  I’m working hard right now to develop some meaningful contacts and a ‘networking’ group where I might find a position, rather than just work through recruiters as I’ve been doing the past few months.  I came across this article: http://boredomtoboardroom.com/2013/10/why-worse-candidates-get-the-job/ […]

  2. Petya says:

    Do you have any special advice for foreigners? It is often harder for a foreigner to get the job even if qualified.

  3. Boredom to Boardroom says:

    Hi Petya. Unfortunately you’re absolutely correct! I empathize myself as actually, all of my work experience has always been as a foreigner. Feel free to send me an email but in a nutshell, you really need to ensure you understand the country’s approach to job searches – resumes, cover letters, social media, networking, informational meetings, etc. All of these can vary significantly from country to country and so it’s important to identify how it works in that market and then customize your approach accordingly. Also, the work permit issue is something that needs to be handled carefully. Again feel free to drop me a note and let me know what market you’re in/applying to :) Good luck! K

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