How Do I Find Out Why My Job Application Has Been Rejected?

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
I have sent out over a hundred job applications to various positions across many fields, and 90% of them had been rejected – the other 10% I never hear from again, even after following-up. For most of those applications, I should be a perfectly viable candidate, but I get no indication whatsoever why I get rejected.

The Fake Offer

Here’s a question for today: How do I find out why my job application has been rejected? I’m going to paraphrase the next part. I have sent out over100 applications to various positions across my field and 90% of them have been rejected. The other 10%, I never hear from again even if I follow-up. For most of those applications I would be a perfectly viable candidate but I get no indication why I was rejected.

The person then goes back to talk about what career services told him. Career services knows nothing. They have never fill the job in their life, offer pablum advice but I digress.

What’s the issue here? How can this person find out why their application has been rejected? I’m going to answer the question for them because there are really only a few reasons why an application is rejected.

The first one is that they sought better-looking resumes.What made them better looking resumes? Well, when you see a job ad, that position may have already been online for a month and they are deep into the hiring process. You got to it late.

Number two. Let’s say you found that on the first day was posted and they have just been inundated with responses and they’ve chosen better fitting candidates or resumes for these roles.

Number three. You did nothing to tailor your resume to demonstrate how you actually fit for the job.

The most likely alternative is the second one – – they saw better resumes.Here’s what I say that.

For a student resume (I’m going to get to you more experienced people in a little bit to start with students first),

What is your resume say? You have a few internships and went to a particular school, got certain grades and took particular classes.

Man, that’s boring! Unless some of those internships were spectacular (I’m sure some of you had great internships, but most were pretty mundane), some of these people are ahead of you on line, particularly if you went to an average school– – We have no idea of your experience so it’s hard to be particular for you.

For you experienced people, is number three (you did nothing to demonstrate your fit for the job). That’s the most common mistake that experienced people make.

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Students are often given a load of crap by career services about how wonderful their school is, how great a job it does preparing people for graduation… And they are lying. Career services knows nothing about how well prepared you are or any of the graduates are. The next time they go out and talk to a business about how their academic program matches up with that businesses needs will be the first time that ever happens.

So, for students, your background isn’t as wonderful as you have been led to believe. For experienced people, you have to tailor your resume to demonstrate a fit for the job that you are applying for; that’s the most common reason why you are being projected; you never made a case for your candidacy and how your experience fits the firm that you are applying to.

Your resume is awful vis-à-vis the job you’re applying for. As I’ve said many times before, your resume is like the broken watch that’s right twice a day. Yes, you will get some interviews. To use the example of the student, he or she gets 10 interviews out of 100.

Why doesn’t he get 100 out of 100? Who knows!

For you, you keep sending that same resume out over and over and, if my inbox is any indicator, a lot of you are sending out little more than spam.

I want to encourage you to tailor your resume to demonstrate your fit. As a student, I want you to go into detail about the program you went to, how wonderful it was, what you learn there, and try to find something in your background that will distinguish it from the other thousand resumes that they are going to be receiving.

By that I don’t only mean the appearance; I mean the content as well.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. He is hired to provide No BS Career Advice globally. That can involve job search, hiring staff, management, leadership, career transition and advice about resolving workplace issues. Schedule a discovery call at my website,

He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with over 2500 episodes.

I do a livestream on LinkedIn, and YouTube (on the account) Tuesdays at 1 PM Eastern. You can send your questions about job search, hiring better, management, leadership or to get advice about a workplace issue to me via messaging on LinkedIn or in chat during the approximately 30-minute show.




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