Getting picked last is better than not getting picked at all.

An employee came in and asked us about why we picked her resume out of the bunch. After going back to school and changing careers, she was convinced that the long process was because there was something fishy going on in the background, and she wanted our take.

I remembered her application vividly. The resume had all the skills we were looking for, as well as internships and external activities that clearly supported what she was doing. And her cover letter was filled with enthusiasm, passion and sincere excitedness for the position. I could tell this was someone who not only wanted a job, but wanted a job with us – she had done her research and was even more interested after looking into us. And I was right – she’s been an awesome fit in the time she’s spent with us.

But it did make me think about the year and a half she spent NOT getting interviews. Was there foul play? Maybe. But without really knowing what was going on in the hiring managers’ minds, there’s no way of being sure of that conclusion, and no reason to assume the worst.

As a ballroom dancer, I used to assume the very same at my dance competitions – the judges weren’t picking me because there was something wrong with my dancing or because of politics, because they knew all the people they picked over me. Well, as it turns out, when I started to judge, I realized that sometimes you just can’t possibly notice everyone – you don’t have enough time or energy to see all of the great people out there. There are times when you, as the dancer do everything right, but you just don’t get seen, so you fall through the cracks, however good you may be.

In job hunting, it’s the same way. You may be an excellent fit and you may do everything perfectly, but sometimes, it’s not enough to get you noticed. There’s no guarantee that you’ll make it in front of the hiring manager’s eyes in time to get interviewed and subsequently hired.

So what does that mean for you? It means that you can’t leap to conclusions and lose the negative attitude. Keep applying and putting yourself out there. Eventually, you’ll get to the person who needs to see how truly awesome you are. You have to keep making those connections to better your chances of that happening.

You may not live your whole life in the spotlight, but when it comes down to it, you’ll find it. Don’t lose hope. We, as a company, are lucky that my employee was forced to wait as long as she did – we’re better off for having her. Your next employer will feel the same way about you.


11 responses to “Getting picked last is better than not getting picked at all.

  1. Great article, Mikey! Something else I’ve found is that everything takes longer than you think it will or should. While you’re checking your inbox obsessively after sending in application (I know I was, for some of them), the recruiter may not look at it for weeks. Filling a position isn’t necessarily as high a priority as finding one. I’m getting interviews a month after sending in applications; and two weeks after I got a job.

    • That’s a really good point, Kate. And just note that that time doesn’t mean anything – a long decision-making process has no impact on whether they love you or hate you, it’s just par for the course. Congrats on sticking with it and seeing where that leads!

  2. well presented Mike. We have to constantly remember that we are in an economic climate that is ever so much changing. Candidates are weary everything.

    As a recruiter, many of our candidates tell us they are still adjusting from being in the market for a new job longer than they ever have in their career. Many times, we have to remind them that as they are very qualified for certain jobs, it still takes a little more time since employers have lengthened their interview process to make sure the right fit exists. Nothing to be discouraged about.

    • That’s very true, Ahmed. I know some people are extremely frustrated when they hear, “It’s just a bad time to be looking for a job” because they’ve heard it so many times, but it’s very true. Employers are more cautious about making hires, and don’t make those decisions lightly. You and Kate found the same things, that those decision take more time as a side effect. But again, it’s just a sign of the times, not a sign of how much an employer is interested or not.

      You can’t try and interpret signals from employers – just take what you know and use fact to guide your way rather than assuming and misleading. It’s not helpful and it’s not necessarily the truth.

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  4. Mike, as a ballroom dance judge you mentioned you were unable to notice all the dancers. I’m sure it wasn’t a day-glo orange safety vest, but how did you use that knowledge to become more noticable when you did go back to the dance floor? Crisper steps, higher kicks, brighter outfits? (I pretend to be asleep, but I’m a closet Dancing with the Stars fan)

    What tactical advice would you give a job seeker? Paper weight/color? Font? Language style? I’d be curious to hear.

    Good article, good energy (for the job hunter too)

    • Matt, those are some great questions. I’d really like to address them more fully so that people can read them. Let me think more about that and actually make a post out of it. Thanks for the thoughts!

      And don’t worry, I won’t let the cat out of the bag about your love for DWTS.

  5. Hi

    Thank you so much for this article. I know it wasn’t your intention when you wrote it, but it came at a perfect time for me. I’ve been searching for a position since May and recently I’ve become extremely depressed by the whole process. I’ve gone to a few interviews (for teaching) and when I walk in I am always told the same thing: “You are one of 500 applicants for this one position. Meaning the fact that even saw your resume and called you, is a BIG deal.” The problem is that in this process, there is no prize for 2nd place out of 500.
    But you’re right. And it’s the same thing that my family has said. There is a reason that I haven’t been hired yet. It’s because I haven’t found the right job for me yet. And with that thought, I’m going to Starbucks to write more cover letters.

    • That’s awesome to hear that it came at such a good time for you. You know all of those things in your head and it seems logical, but it doesn’t mean that you feel any better.

      Hope Starbucks treated you well! Just keep cranking ’em out! Best of luck. Keep me posted on your progress.

  6. Pingback: YOU be the judge. | The HR Intern

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