Seven Reasons You Didn’t Get the Job (even though you were the best applicant)

7-reasons
Seven Reasons You Didn’t Get the Job (even though you were the best applicant)

By Jesse Campbell

Editor’s Note: I have had it happen to me, in my own career, and it has happened to more than a few of the 2,400 clients I have counseled as their career advisor. — You are a perfect fit for the job. You meet all of the specifications in the Help Wanted posting. It sounds like they based the job description on your own resume! You apply for the job and never hear back. Worse, you interview, think you knocked ‘em dead, and never hear back or get a “sorry, but no” email.  Wonder what went wrong? Jesse Campbell, writing for financial organization MMI, has some explanations that you will find helpful. Here are Campbell’s thoughts. — B. Blackwell 

—–

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the workforce, chances are good you’ve experienced your fair share of rejection. Sometimes you take a shot in the dark at a job you’re not really qualified for and never hear anything back. “That’s fine,” you think to yourself. “I wasn’t really qualified for that job anyway.”

Sometimes, however, you are qualified for the job. Very qualified. You even come in for an interview that goes well, then later come back for another interview that goes well. Everything seems lined up for success, but then…well, nothing.

No matter how qualified you are, there are still a few reasons why you might not end up with the job – some you can control, some you can’t.

  1. The job disappeared.

When a job is posted, there are quite a few things going on behind the curtain that you simply won’t be privy to. And sometimes a posted job will suddenly vanish. Why? Maybe the position hadn’t officially been approved at the time HR began their search. Everyone assumed it would be approved, but then something changed and it wasn’t. Additionally, there’s the possibility that something significant changed during the search and now the position no longer makes business sense.

There’s also the possibility that the job was never really there in the first place. Sometimes a company has an internal candidate all lined up, but is required to go through the formal application process all the same.

  1. The job evolved during the search process

You have everything the employer is asking for. Seems like a match made in heaven, but sometimes the employer realizes during the course of the search that they actually need something else. Maybe someone came in with some skills or experiences they didn’t know they needed, or maybe another employee left recently and they’re trying to combine positions. Whatever the reason, your perfect skill set is no longer quite so perfect for the job.

  1. You came in a bit too early

A good job is going to receive many very good applicants. So many, in fact, that they may end up bleeding together a bit as the process wears on. That means the first applicant through the door has to be so outstanding that no one else can compare, or else risk fading from memory over time. If given the option, you may want to take one of the later interview slots.

  1. You didn’t do your research

Remember – it’s not about how great you are as an individual, it’s about how that greatness will translate for your new employer. That means you need understanding who you’re talking to and make sure you sell yourself in a way that will actually resonate.

  1. Someone else had an inside advantage

Another thing you won’t know about while navigating the application process – internal politics. No matter how qualified you are, and no matter how well you nail the interview, who you know still matters. And if someone else knows someone important within the company, you may be out of luck.

  1. You gave them a reason to disqualify you

When hiring managers are faced with stacks and stacks of qualified applicants, they start looking for a reason – any reason – to disqualify applicants. Complain too much about your former employer during the interview? You’re out. Post questionable things on social media? You’re out. Ask for special considerations right out of the gate? You’re out. It could even be something seemingly minor, like wearing too much perfume or cologne. The point is, do your best to not give anyone a reason to say no.

  1. Someone with similar qualifications is willing to do the same work for less

Finally, the fastest way to lose out a job is to price yourself out of the running. That doesn’t mean you have to take less than you’re worth, but it’s a good idea to try to delay the negotiations until after you’ve been offered the position.

 

Your “Un-natural” Network Connections can be the Best!

Looking for a Job? Did you Tell your Mechanic or Hairdresser?

Your “Un-natural” Network Connections can be the Best!

You’re at a networking event talking with someone, and you’re wondering to yourself — is this the best person for me to be talking to? Should I cut this short and seek out someone who might be a more useful contact or have better connections?

So writes Dave Opton, President of Execunet in a recent newsletter.

Opton goes on to talk about a fellow, John, who was on the job market. John was doing a lot of heavy networking and contacting everyone he thought could help him, but he wasn’t getting anywhere. One day, while getting his car fixed, he told the auto mechanic about his situation. When the mechanic offered to introduce him to some of his connections, John gave him a skeptical look. The mechanic countered by pointing to the Porsches, Mercedes and BMWs sitting at his shop. “Who do you think owns these cars? I know every one of them!” Lesson learned!

I call these “un-natural” connections – getting career help from people you would never expect could be of any value to you in your job search. We have countless stories about how our Career Strategies Group clients received invaluable aid from the most unlikely of sources.

One of my favorite stories concerns Joan, an all-American lawyer who had taken Japanese language lessons in high school and college. Her dream was to work for a Japanese-based company. She mentioned this one day to her hairdresser, who happened to be of Japanese extraction. Lo’ and behold, her hairdresser’s Dad was a senior executive with the New York office of a major Japanese bank. Joan is now on the legal team there!

Then there was Perry, a law firm lawyer who was seeking a legal position in the broadcast or cable TV industries. One weekend he went to a party at a friend’s house. There he met one of his other friend’s new girlfriends, who happened to be a secretary at a dentist’s office. He was small talking about his interest in TV, and she said she had a friend who was a legal secretary at a major cable TV company. One thing lead to another and Perry was able to start his career in the entertainment industry – because his friend’s new girlfriend’s friend.

Another favorite Career Strategies story is about Maria, who wanted to get into public relations in the fashion industry. One day on the way to court, she pulled into a gas station. Not being the type of woman who pumped her own gas, she asked the attendant, a young college student, for assistance. She mentioned how much she hated going to court each day, and how much she dreamed about doing fashion industry PR. The gas station attendant said his older sister was Vice President of Marketing for a major fashion designer. Maria is today writing press releases and supervising photo shoots for that fashion house.

The moral of the story is you can get the most valuable career help from the people you least expect to get it from. Just tell them your story. As Execunet’s Dave Opton concludes, someone’s title will tell you what they do, but not who they know. So, the next time you’re at a networking event, at the grocery store check out, or at the gas station, talk to the people there and mention what you are looking for — because you never know.

Good hunting!

6-month, interest-free financing now available! No need to use your credit card or checkbook!

Now you can take advantage of Career Strategies’ expertise and resources without having to hit your bank account or credit card. We are extremely pleased to announce we have been accepted as a Pay Pal / Bill Me Later merchant. Bill Me Later is not a credit card but is like one — it provides six-months of interest free financing to qualified persons, and offers even longer payment terms at a very reasonable interest rate. Very few people have “career counseling and job search assistance” in their budgets. This has made it difficult, sometimes impossible, for clients to retain us to help them in their career development. Career Strategies is not a bank — we are career counselors — and typically over the last 21 years of our practice, all we could manage was to allow clients to put down a meaningful deposit and pay off their balances in two or three months. That put us out of the reach of many people who wanted to use us. Since people can now purchase our services with a small down payment and long-term installment plan, that problem largely goes away. Our goal has always been to help people find jobs — the best jobs they can command, at the best salaries, in the best organizations. This new Pay Pal / Bill Me Later program will make it possible for us to help many more people — perhaps you!

Relying on Classifieds, Recruiters and Networking? You Lose.

Most  people want to find new jobs as quickly as possible, but they rely on the slowest and least productive job search methods — classifieds, recruiters and old-fashioned networking. These traditional methods are all most people know about, and are resulting in job searches taking months and months longer than they need to.

 

According to a just-released study by the highly respected Career Thought Leaders Consortium, 55%  of  executive and professional searches are taking 6 months or more, and a whopping 41% are taking from 11 to 24+ months! This is for a group where 89% of respondents were in very senior or C-level positions, and 90% were professionals age 40 and up.

 

There is no reason for campaigns to take this long. A career coach can help shorten your search by helping you find companies and by helping companies find you. We can speed up your campaign by providing you with new resources based on internet and database technologies. At Career Strategies, we spend hours and hours each month researching new on-line resume distribution tools and company information resources.

 

If you want to shorten your job search, call us TODAY.  914-437-9230

Hard job search facts of life learned by Dewey associates

Even if you are from a top law school and global law firm, winning in today’s marketplace takes more than just good credentials – it takes good marketing.

That lesson has become painfully clear to the many Associates and Of Counsel at Dewey LeBoeuf who have still not landed jobs following the collapse of that once-great law firm earlier this year.  The powers-who-once-were at Dewey sponsored a job search seminar for their former colleagues in New York City last week.  I was among a few career professionals who were asked to be panelists.

Differentiating yourself from other attorneys with similar experience, and getting past the obvious job search method of going online, hitting “apply” and praying, were the focus of my remarks at that panel.  I addressed these topics, and more, during a formal presentation, and then spent several hours leading two different workshop groups and answering questions.

I shared the dais with Margarett Williams, an Assistant Dean of Touro Law School; Katie Calabrese of Paul Weiss’ HR Dept.; and Sheryl Odentz, an experienced law firm outplacement consultant. All are former attorneys who ultimately transitioned to the legal career counseling and human resource side. Each panelist brought a unique perspective to the presentation,  and we all basically agreed with each other about how a proper job search should be done.

Showing potential employers why they should hire you vs. another attorney with similar experience, and being creative in your approach to job search by not relying on online postings and recruiters, are concepts that are valuable, if not critical, for all job seekers, young and old alike.

In a competitive market where the supply of qualified attorneys is greater than the demand for them – both in-house and in law firms – competing successfully requires a competitive edge, and breaking away from the clutter of the hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes that are received for jobs posted on the internet.

Even for cream-of-the-crop candidates like those from a great firm like Dewey LeBoeuf, applying the same old job search methods that everyone else is using is just not enough anymore.

I was pleased to be able to share my expertise with these young (and some not so young) attorneys, and would welcome the opportunity of doing so for you.  Please feel free to give me a call so that we can talk about your career situation and how I may be able to help you.

 

Think recruiters can help you? Think again!

This is the toughest job market in 75 years, yet (allegedly) intelligent attorneys are being just plain stupid when it comes to their job search strategies.

If they want to remain ignorant fools, that’s their business – they can stay miserable in their jobs or watch themselves sink slowly into insolvency because they can’t find other work. Hopefully you are not like these poor schnooks — if you are smart enough to be reading this, then perhaps you really do want to make a positive change in your career.

I am a legal recruiter and job search coach who has talked with about 1,000 lawyers a year for the last 20+ years. Most of these attorneys are clueless about what recruiters can do for them. They don’t have faintest idea about what constitutes a “recruitable” candidate.

What I am about to tell you does not apply to executive recruiters, but most certainly does apply to legal recruiters. Go to Lawjobs.com or any other job site for lawyers, spend five minutes reading the postings, and you will see that what I am telling you is true.

In my practice, we started as career counselors, and eventually added recruiting to our services. As with any legal recruiters, we get 20-30% of a candidate’s first year salary as our fee. If you are in the $125,000 range and we place you, we will receive from $25,000 to $37,500. If we were to work with you on career testing and assessment to identify your career options, we would receive from $1,300 to $2,900 for the testing and evaluation, depending upon how many hours were involved in your testing program.

I am not stupid. Don’t you think I would rather make $25,000 for putting in the 20 to 30 hours so hours it would take me to find, screen and submit a candidate, than to make less than $3,000 for spending 12-14 hours on a career counseling case? Hello?

However, most of the people who call us are not recruitable candidates. We are able to help the few who are, and they make it economically possible for us to continue as counselors for those who are not. Truth be known, we actually prefer the counseling side so we are happy with this arrangement.

Here are the realities of the legal recruiting profession.

1. Legal recruiters are used by firms and companies to find candidates who exactly matchthe specifications of an open job, and who have the requisite practice area skills and experience. Recruiters will not submit, for example, a plaintiff’s personal injury attorney for a commercial litigation position.

2. The prime market for legal recruiters is young lawyers with from 1 to 6 years of experience. Once you have crossed the 7th or 8th year mark, you are no longer considered “recruitable.”

3. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if you are beyond your 7th or 8th year, you can be recruitable IF you have a verifiable book of portable business. Depending upon where you live, this typically means $175,000 to $1 million.

4. The term “top academics” will appear in many recruiter ads. This means 1) top 10% or 15% of your law school class and  2) Top 10, 15 or 20 law school. If you were in the very top of your class – I mean, first, second or third — at a lesser ranked law school, you may also be considered.

5. Age matters in legal recruiting. Discrimination is, in fact, legal. A recruiter friend of mine who wanted my help in finding a candidate told me they wanted someone from the class of 2006, 2007 or 2009. “What about 2008”, I asked. “Oh no, no 2008s. They don’t have any slots for an ’08,” I was told.

6. Recruiters do not handle many in-house jobs. Two recent studies have shown that only 5% of in-house positions are filled by recruiters. Companies do not want to spend money on recruiters unless they have to. Nearly all law firm lawyers would prefer to go in-house. There is an oversupply of willing candidates that a company can attract without spending tens of thousands of dollars on recruiting fees.

7. When recruiters do get in–house assignments, it is almost always for an attorney with very specific skill sets in a particular discipline: SEC ’34 and ’36 Act, ERISA, pharmaceutical patents, FCC regulations and so on. They seldom use recruiters to find generalists.

8. Most often when a legal recruiter does get an in-house assignment, the hiring company wants a candidate with prior in-house experience. I think this is stupid, quite frankly, but it is what it is. As a career counselor, I once helped a law firm attorney land a position as a corporate general counsel. He then hired me as a recruiter to help staff his legal department. Like so many others, he only wanted attorneys with in-house experience. “But Bill,” I said, “you didn’t have any in-house experience when they hired you.” “Yes,” he replied, “but that was different.”  OK, sure.

9. Recruiters are salespeople who are only interested in getting a fee. They do not care about your best interests, they care about their bank accounts. There is nothing wrong with this! They are paid to find people to fill positions. If you match one of their open positions, recruiters will try to get you to accept a job that you don’t really want so they can earn a commission. You are just a fee to them.

10. If you are at a career crossroads and are not sure what you want to do next professionally, recruiters cannot help you. Recruiters are not career counselors. They are not schooled in career assessment. They are not marketing professionals or trained resume writers. Most legal recruiters – in fact, every legal recruiter I have ever met – are former attorneys. They are deal-makers who try to find candidates who match an employer’s job specification.

Like many lawyers, you probably want to see “what else is out there” for you that is not another law firm job, that  frees you from the nastiness of litigation and billable hours requirements, and that provides a more collegial atmosphere, better quality of life, and a consistent income. If you expect to achieve this through a legal recruiter, then good luck! I wish you all possible success. Stranger things have happened and you might get lucky – but probably not.

As an attorney, you are smart enough not to take on cases outside of your area of legal expertise; you refer the case to other lawyers who are more qualified in that area than you. Don’t expect legal recruiters  to give you good counsel and assistance on issues that are not within their practice areas and which are outside their expertise.

Will You be a Job Search Winner or Loser?

There are good ways and not-so- good ways for doing a job search. Is your campaign going to be successful or is it going to languish? Here are a few questions to help you decide.

 

1) Do you have a Unique Selling Proposition? Why are you a better candidate than someone with similar experience? If you lack a clear “brand strategy,” your search will drag and you’ll miss out on interviews..

 

2) Do you have a well-defined Marketing Plan with targeted employers, decision-makers, daily search tasks and ways to reach companies directly? If you have not, you are trusting to luck.

 

3) Are you being creative in your  campaign?  If you are merely posting your resume on the web, talking with recruiters and doing some networking, you are missing out on 80% of the available positions.

 

4) Do you have a strategy for tapping the Hidden Job Market? Old-fashioned networking and job search methods will not get you there. If you are not ahead of the curve, you are behind it!

 

5) Does your resume show accomplishments or just duties? Your competitors have the same duties as you. If your resume isn’t showing results you have produced, you are under-representing yourself.

 

6) Do you have a compelling telephone introduction when calling employers? If  your plan is simply to ask if they have seen your resume, your chances of arranging an interview are minimal.

 

7) Are you sending resumes to companies that are not advertising openings? Only 7% of jobs are advertised. If a company wants to dump an employee, they don’t advertise that person’s job! Hello!?

 

Career Strategies Receives A+ Rating From the Better Business Bureau

White Plains, NY — Career Strategies is proud to announce that it has become a BBB Accredited Business and has received the highly coveted A+ Rating in Career Counseling and Outplacement.

In bestowing the new honor to Career Strategies, the BBB noted, “Your BBB Accreditation status makes a powerful statement about your commitment and consistent efforts to maintain a strong sense of accountability and responsibility. As a BBB Accredited Business,” they continued, “you work to uphold the trust and respect of your customers.”

According to the Better Business Bureau, the Accreditation and A+ rating is based on 16 different factors, including advertising, sales practices and service delivery, among others. Being granted Accredited status, said the BBB, “demonstrates your commitment to truth in advertising and gives consumers an assurance of your business’ commitment to stand behind your products and work.”

“We are deeply honored to be recognized by the Better Business Bureau,” said Bruce Blackwell, who founded Career Strategies in 1992. “We are especially proud to be given an A+, the BBB’s highest rating.” The rating system, like many schools, goes from A+ down to F.

In the all of New York State, only two Career Counseling and Outplacement businesses have been given Accredited status by the BBB. “This is a very rare honor indeed,” said Blackwell.

Accredited businesses are required to meet all applicable standards for the BBB’s Code of Business Practices, advertise its services honestly, ensure that all written materials clearly and accurately describe its services and “approach all business dealings, marketplace transactions and commitments with integrity.”

Career Strategies provides career testing and assessment to help clients identify their viable career options. It also assists job seekers by preparing resumes and marketing materials, creating personal marketing plans, distributing client resumes to companies and recruiters, and providing interview preparation and job search coaching. The company has served several thousand executives and professionals in career transition.

Career Strategies is located at 188 East Post Road, Suite 304, White Plains, NY 10601. Main line: 914-437-9230. Fax: 913-437-9229. Website: www.careerstrategiesgroup.com.

Bruce Blackwell invited to be panelist

Bruce Blackwell, founder and Managing Partner of Career Strategies, has been invited to be one of three prsenters at a Bar Association seminar on career planning for attorneys.
The seminar, entitled “Starting Early: Your Career Plan,” is being sponsored by the New York City Bar Association. According to a panel organizer, Carol Welch of Pace University School of Law and a member of the Career Transition committee for the Bar Association, “The goal of the program is to instruct the audience on the importance of creating, maintaining and revisiting a career plan from the earliest days of their legal careers.”
The program, to be held December 7, 2011 in New York City, is the first in series of three that the Bar Association will be presenting in 2011-12 on the theme of “Starting Early.” The other two sessions will be on “Business Development” (Dec. 19) and “Building Your Brand” (Jan. 19, 2012).
“I think it is wonderful that the Bar Association has recognized the need for younger attorneys to start planning their careers, building personal brands and learning the ins- and- outs of rainmaking,” said Blackwell, who has counseled several thousand attorneys on career transitions.
“So often,” he noted, “lawyers don’t really have career plans except to hope for the best and try to grow within their firms. Many of my clients have been totally at sea when they suddenly find themselves having to compete for jobs against other lawyers with similar credentials and experience. They have no ‘brand identity,’ no way to stand out from the pack.
“Even more shocking to many, especially when they become partners, is that they are no longer given work — they have to go out and generate work! They are often totally unprepared to be rainmakers. Young men and women don’t go to law school because they want to be salespersons … but succeeding in the legal profession means you also have to succeed in the sales profession.”
Career Strategies has traditionally focused on the career needs of attorneys in mid-life, but increasingly over the last few years has been assisting much younger lawyers on career development issues.

Bruce Blackwell, founder and Managing Partner of Career Strategies, has been invited to be one of three prsenters at a Bar Association seminar on career planning for attorneys.
The seminar, entitled “Starting Early: Your Career Plan,” is being sponsored by the New York City Bar Association. According to a panel organizer, Carol Welch of Pace University School of Law and a member of the Career Transition committee for the Bar Association, “The goal of the program is to instruct the audience on the importance of creating, maintaining and revisiting a career plan from the earliest days of their legal careers.”
The program, to be held December 7, 2011 in New York City, is the first in series of three that the Bar Association will be presenting in 2011-12 on the theme of “Starting Early.” The other two sessions will be on “Business Development” (Dec. 19) and “Building Your Brand” (Jan. 19, 2012).
“I think it is wonderful that the Bar Association has recognized the need for younger attorneys to start planning their careers, building personal brands and learning the ins- and- outs of rainmaking,” said Blackwell, who has counseled several thousand attorneys on career transitions.
“So often,” he noted, “lawyers don’t really have career plans except to hope for the best and try to grow within their firms. Many of my clients have been totally at sea when they suddenly find themselves having to compete for jobs against other lawyers with similar credentials and experience. They have no ‘brand identity,’ no way to stand out from the pack.
“Even more shocking to many, especially when they become partners, is that they are no longer given work — they have to go out and generate work! They are often totally unprepared to be rainmakers. Young men and women don’t go to law school because they want to be salespersons … but succeeding in the legal profession means you also have to succeed in the sales profession.”
Career Strategies has traditionally focused on the career needs of attorneys in mid-life, but increasingly over the last few years has been assisting much younger lawyers on career development issues.

Bruce Blackwell, founder and Managing Partner of Career Strategies, has been invited to be one of three prsenters at a Bar Association seminar on career planning for attorneys.The seminar, entitled “Starting Early: Your Career Plan,” is being sponsored by the New York City Bar Association. According to a panel organizer, Carol Welch of Pace University School of Law and a member of the Career Transition committee for the Bar Association, “The goal of the program is to instruct the audience on the importance of creating, maintaining and revisiting a career plan from the earliest days of their legal careers.”The program, to be held December 7, 2011 in New York City, is the first in series of three that the Bar Association will be presenting in 2011-12 on the theme of “Starting Early.” The other two sessions will be on “Business Development” (Dec. 19) and “Building Your Brand” (Jan. 19, 2012).“I think it is wonderful that the Bar Association has recognized the need for younger attorneys to start planning their careers, building personal brands and learning the ins- and- outs of rainmaking,” said Blackwell, who has counseled several thousand attorneys on career transitions.“So often,” he noted, “lawyers don’t really have career plans except to hope for the best and try to grow within their firms. Many of my clients have been totally at sea when they suddenly find themselves having to compete for jobs against other lawyers with similar credentials and experience. They have no ‘brand identity,’ no way to stand out from the pack.“Even more shocking to many, especially when they become partners, is that they are no longer given work — they have to go out and generate work! They are often totally unprepared to be rainmakers. Young men and women don’t go to law school because they want to be salespersons … but succeeding in the legal profession means you also have to succeed in the sales profession.”Career Strategies has traditionally focused on the career needs of attorneys in mid-life, but increasingly over the last few years has been assisting much younger lawyers on career development issues.

How to prepare for an interview

According to Job Seekers Weekly, before the recession it used to take an average of three interviews to get one offer. Now it takes 17 interviews. Shorten your search by preparing diligently for an interview. Research the company, the decision-makers and the job requirements. Prepare your “success stories” to show how your background and skills can meet the needs of the employer. Anticipate the questions that they are likely to ask and be especially ready to handle the questions that you don’t want them to ask. The winner isn’t the person who is most qualified for the job – the winner is the person who best shows the value that they can bring to their employer.