Another rejection brought to you by "It's not me, it's you"

March 31, 2009

When applying to jobs, there are many hurdles to overcome: the ever-expanding applicant pool, the unwieldiness of online application systems, the increasing cursoriness of a hiring manager's cursory glance. But have you considered that these difficulties might pale in comparison to the greatest hurdle of all? Yourself. An application comprises several parts, and each step of the way you must appear polished, world-wise and up to the task. If you aren't receiving job offers following interviews, or if you aren't landing interviews at all--you should evaluate what's wrong. In a recent New York Times Career Couch article, psychologist Paul Powers and consultant Barbara Safani tackle questions about the tricky interview process. Safani says hiring managers prefer candidates to speak in specifics, not generalities. Without citing examples of how you executed a project or solved a problem, "you don't differentiate yourself and you become a mere blur," she said. And be sure you can communicate in 30 seconds what you're all about and how you will add value to the organization. She also suggests asking questions about the direction of the company as whole, not just the job. If things went poorly in the interview, or if they went well, it's important to debrief with yourself or a colleague. Powers encourages a "post-interview review" to determine where there is room for improvement. Also consider asking a friend to conduct mock interviews with you, especially if you begin to notice that hiring managers are asking you the same questions again and again.