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Career-Life Times, Issue #50--50 Reasons You Didn’t Get the Job
July 22, 2008

Issue #50, July 22, 2008

In This Issue:

  • 50 Reasons You Didn’t Get the Job
  • Ten Commandments for Job Seekers
  • 3 Ways to Get Yourself a Promotion
  • Lying on a Nail
  • Reader Tips
  • Resources
  • Worth Quoting
  • Just for Laughs
  • Random Rants & Ramblings

    50 Reasons You Didn't Get the Job

    Because job candidates often convince themselves that they are "perfect" for the job, they are shocked when they don't get an offer. There are all kinds of reasons why even a "perfect" candidate might not be selected. Of course, the obvious reason is they’re not as perfect as they think.

    In honor of this 50th issue of "Career-Life Times," here are 50 other possible reasons for not getting the job:

    1. Mistakes/typos on résumé or cover letter.
    2. Someone else had stronger qualifications (experience, knowledge, skills, abilities).
    3. Didn’t listen.
    4. Gave bad and/or dumb and/or incomplete and/or creepy answers.
    5. Talked too much.
    6. Didn’t talk enough.
    7. They didn’t like your personality.
    8. They didn’t like your appearance.
    9. No good references.
    10. Bad attitude.
    11. Talked about assignments instead of accomplishments.
    12. Late.
    13. Not interested in the job.
    14. Rude to receptionist (or someone else).
    15. Live too far away.
    16. Took too long to respond to job offer.
    17. Poor communication skills.
    18. Asked too many questions.
    19. Didn’t ask enough questions.
    20. Asked wrong questions.
    21. Unreachable (didn’t respond to phone calls/e-mails).
    22. Unprepared.
    23. Too confident/arrogant.
    22. Not enough self-confidence.
    23. Sounded phony.
    24. Lied.
    25. Complained.
    26. Not enthusiastic enough.
    27. Too enthusiastic/bubbly.
    28. Too quiet.
    29. Too loud.
    30. Not a minority. (They’re trying to be “diverse.”)
    31. Position already filled (they were just going through the motions)
    32. Said something stupid.
    33. Revealed potential risks/problems (family/health/money issues)
    34. Too negative.
    35. Asked about salary too early.
    36. Bragged about other job offers.
    37. Unflattering info on internet.
    38. Fidgeting, nervous.
    39. Too desperate.
    40. Being a know-it-all.
    41. Unable to accept criticism.
    42. Can’t handle stress.
    43. Didn’t send a thank-you note.
    44. Smelled bad.
    45. Used profanity.
    46. Too unattractive.
    47. Too attractive.
    48. Position was deleted.
    49. Didn’t pass physical.
    50. Seemed untrustworthy.

    Some of those reasons you have control over; some you don't. Some are not "fair" -- but life (and employment) isn't always fair. You'll probably never know the true reason you weren't hired. (See "Job Interview Feedback: Rare and Priceless" in last month’s issue.) Getting a job is pretty damn hard. But don't give up. You've only failed if you don't keep trying.

    Ten Commandments for Job Seekers

    If you set your mind to it, I/m sure you could search online and find more than a hundred helpful tips for getting a new job (with the best ones at my web site, of course!). But who has time to find, much less read, a hundred tips?

    So I've made a list of just ten tips. But they are the most important tips—the Ten Commandments for job seekers, so to speak.

    Some of these may seem like common sense to you, but they are unknown, overlooked, or screwed up by thousands of job seekers every day.

    Each of these Ten Commandments is critical. If you violate even one of them, you'll have a hell of a time getting that new job.

    1. Thou shalt not submit a résumé with errors. Misspelled words or typos are the kiss of death. If you don't show attention to detail on your résumé (and cover letter/e-mail), you won't get a chance to show attention to detail as someone's employee. The easiest way for HR to eliminate you from consideration (and believe me, their first goal is to eliminate candidates, not to qualify them) is to throw out every résumé and application with a mistake on it.

    2. Thou shall communicate in a professional manner.

  • Consider the impression your e-mail address will make. If it doesn't look professional, get one that does. Who would you rather interview, or

  • Make sure the greeting on your voice mail is professional. Is it a message you’d want a hiring manager to hear when calling about your interview? If not, change it.

  • Like, be careful to, like, talk like, you know, a professional, and um, actually not, you know, like a kid who, um, doesn't know, you know, how to, like, talk, you know? Seriously.

    3. Thou shall be on time for thy job interview. Plan to arrive about 15 minutes early. Unforeseen delays can happen, but you better have a damn good excuse ("I got lost: is not one) and call as soon as possible to let the interviewer know if you'll be late.

    4. Thou shall be professional in appearance. Show up at the job interview dressed appropriately for the position, or a step above (never a step below). If you're unsure what that is, call or visit the company ahead of time to find out. Limit the jewelry. Leave your body piercing hardware at home. Cover up your tattoos. Look clean and professional. A job interview is not the time or place to demonstrate your unique style (unless you’re applying as a fashion designer).

    5. Thou shall do thy homework. Never "wing it." If you show up for the interview without knowing anything about the company or the job, or without anticipating likely questions and preparing (and practicing) your answers, you may as well turn around and go home.

    6. Thou shall turn off thy cell phone before the interview begins. It doesn't matter if you're expecting a very important call. It doesn't matter if you have the coolest ring tone on the planet. The interviewer does not want to hear your cell phone ring. Supervisors already think employees spend too much time on their cell phones. Allowing yours to ring during the interview is guaranteed to put you in a negative light.

    7. Thou shall be a good listener. Most people think only about the talking they'll do during a job interview, and forget the importance of listening. Never interrupt the interviewer. Listen carefully to each question, and make sure your answer answers it. If it's a confusing or complex question, it's okay to ask for clarification. Just don't say, "Huh?"

    8. Thou shalt not complain. Never speak negatively about people or companies you’ve worked for. The boss you call a jerk may be the hiring manager's best friend! More likely, you'll be perceived as a complainer — and nobody will hire a complainer — regardless of how valid your complaints are.

    9. Thou shall be likable. The candidate with the best qualifications does not always get the job. Candidates perceived as arrogant, obnoxious, indifferent, unfriendly, or otherwise not likeable during interviews won't get hired no matter how fantastic their qualifications are. Hiring managers may hire someone who is minimally qualified, but they will NOT hire anyone they don't like. So be likable — positive, enthusiastic, upbeat, and friendly. Smile!

    10. Thou shall give thanks. Always send a thank-you note to everyone who interviews you. Do this as soon as the interview is over. Proof it as carefully as you did your résumé. Make it personal and complimentary by referencing something the interviewer said. Reiterate your desire to work for the company. And, of course, express your sincere appreciation for the opportunity to compete for the job.

    And here's a bonus tip: Thou shalt not get dejected if rejected. Even if you follow the above Ten Commandments, the job may go to someone else. You may never know why you weren't hired. But don't dwell on that. Be thankful that you got the chance to practice your interviewing skills. Tell yourself it's their loss, not yours. And move positively and optimistically forward with your job search. The next opportunity may be far better than the last!

    3 Ways to Get Yourself a Promotion

    (This is a guest article by Ken Okel)

    In a perfect world, our skills would always be appreciated, our potential unleashed, and our career horizons unlimited. But are you stuck in a job you're tired of and can't get promoted to something better? From benefits to vacation time there are a lot of reasons to stay with your current employer. Here are three quick tips that can help you get a promotion before the job is posted:

    Work Beyond Your Position: Look for opportunities to work on different projects with different people. Often managers may only think of you in terms of your job description. By showing you have untapped skills, you can quietly let them know you're overqualified for your current job.

    This strategy may see you do more work or possibly someone else's work. But think of it as a job interview. If you're good at something new, it will be noticed. Remember, it's always better to say, "I'm glad to help out," than, "That's not my job."

    Share Your Knowledge: Do you have off the job interests that might be valuable in the workplace? For instance, your job might involve sales but after hours, you spend a lot of time learning about computers. When you learn something new and interesting from your hobby, share it with your superiors. Just because you have a lower position in the organization doesn't mean that you don't have something to teach those above you.

    This can be as simple as leaving an article in someone’s mailbox with a note saying, "I thought you might find this interesting." You’re sharing information but not telling someone what to do with it. Nowadays no one can keep up with all the information that's in our world. By sharing you can make someone's life easier while promoting yourself.

    It's News to Me: If you never talk about career advancement, how would anyone know it's your goal? Use your annual evaluation to ask your supervisor about advancement opportunities. Find out if you're lacking a skill that you'll need to get to the next level.

    You're not saying that you hate your current job but rather would like to explore other opportunities. In food terms, it would be like saying, "I always eat the chicken at this restaurant but I think I'd like to try the fish. Do you think I'd like the fish?" In this scenario, you may experience some rejection. But wouldn't you rather experience it now, when you can work on your deficiencies, instead of during an interview?

    Ken Okel is a communications expert who uses real life broadcasting experiences to help successful organizations communicate better, reduce stress, and laugh more. For his free newsletter and special report, 7 Communication Mistakes that are Costing You Money, go to

    Lying on a Nail

    (This is a guest article by Nan Russell)

    Once there was a young woman who didn't like her job. Everyday when she came home from work, she told her husband how terrible her day had been, how tiring the work and how unreasonable her boss. "Leave that job," her husband told her.

    "Oh I will" she said. "But not yet. I have too many friends there for me to leave just yet." And so she complained until the days became years and her family grew to five. "Leave that job," her children told her. "Oh I will" she said. "But not yet. I have seniority and four weeks vacation I can spend with you. I'm not ready to start over just yet.

    And so she remained unhappy at work until the years became decades and her children had children. "Leave that job," her grandchildren told her. "Oh I will," she said. "But not yet. There's only seven more years until I reach thirty years of service and can retire. So I can't just yet."

    I know this woman. And scores like her. People who settle for where they are, what they're doing, and how they're doing it. People who have planted their feet in status quo cement, lacking the courage to move from what is to what could be. People experiencing work like a four letter word and doing nothing to change it.

    They remind me of the story about an old dog half-asleep on the porch of the general store, moaning and groaning in the sun. "Why is your dog acting that way?" a customer asked the store owner. "Oh," answered the man, "he's lying on a nail." "Well, why doesn't he move?" "Because it's not hurting him bad enough."

    That's true for people, too. We convince ourselves the pain is not bad enough to leave the workplace we know. But we're wrong. Prolonged work pain is damaging. Some damages our self-esteem, kills our passion or destroys our dreams. Some emerges when we compromise our values, quiet our voice or hide our talent. Some happens when we're seduced by power or believe our own myths of importance and significance. Some occurs when we look the other way, say yes when we mean no or forfeit the promises we made to ourself.

    Wilbur Wright, of the Wright brothers fame, once commented, "We could hardly wait to get up in the morning." I know that exhilarating feeling of being so passionate about something I was working on that I couldn't wait to get back to work. And people who are winning at working know that kind of passion, too.

    They get excited about work. They thrive offering their unique gifts and talents. And when things change as they sometimes will, they refuse to let a soul-depleting boss or environment hijack their self-esteem, passion or dreams. When work becomes work, they stop lying on a nail and do something about it.

    Nan Russell is author of "Hitting Your Stride: Your Work, Your Way" (Capital Books; January 2008) and host of "Work Matters with Nan Russell" weekly on Nan has spent over 20 years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. She is the founder and president of MountainWorks Communications, as well as an author, speaker and consultant. Visit for archived columns, Ask Nan, weblog, more about Nan's book or to contact Nan.

    Reader Tips

    Reader and successful job winner Dave Denney shares his favorite tips for job seekers:

    1. Have a great support system behind you. Get your family involved, and have your church pray for you and with you.

    2. Don't be afraid to take a temporary job. A temporary job is better than no job at all.

    3. Make sure you have a great-looking, easy-to-understand and truthful résumé. Remember that the average HR person will spend less than 30 seconds looking at your résumé. Some good books on creating resumes are the Damn Good Resume series of books which can be found at your local library.

    4. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the interview site and become familiar with the location of the company. I did a virtual flyover of the building before I went to the interview.

    5. Regardless of your present situation, you must focus on the interview, so mentally clear your mind to prepare.

    Thanks Dave! If you’d like to share your favorite tips, send them to me and I’ll pass them along (my e-mail address is below).


    More Articles. You can find more articles on my website by clicking on Article Index. Here’s a one you might enjoy:

    Getting Creative Earning Extra Income

    Best Productivity Tips. Have trouble getting organized and productive? Check out this helpful post at the Zen Habits blog: The List to Beat All Lists: Top 20 Productivity Lists to Rock Your Tasks.

    Job Interview Success System. This is my guaranteed step-by-step system for helping you ace your next job interview. See the details here: Job Interview Success System.

    Worth Quoting

    "Ability is what you're capable of doing.
    Motivation determines what you do.
    Attitude determines how well you do it."
    (Lou Holtz)

    Just for Laughs


    During a job interview, a client of my employment-search company voiced his concern about work-life balance.

    "Spending time with my family is very important to me, and I'm just wondering how much overtime I can expect to put in," he asked.

    His prospective employer quickly put him at ease.

    "Family should always come first," came the reply. "Of course, here we like our employees to think of us as family."

    (My thanks to Susan Miller for sharing that one!)

    Random Rants & Ramblings

    "Why are these darn newsletters so darn long?!?" Sorry… I got carried away with this one. I’ll try to control myself when creating future issues. And I'll end this "rant" right now.

    So, what did you think of this issue? Any suggestions? Topic ideas? Questions? I really appreciate your feedback. Please send me a note at

    Please forward this to your friends!


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    Lowe-Commotion Publications
    7402 Paddon Rd.
    Vacaville, CA 95688

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