Tired Of Finishing Second?

While some of you are trying to figure out why you aren’t landing job interviews, there’s other folks who can’t figure out where they are going wrong who not only get interviews, but apparently perform really well. Not only are they getting short-listed and interviewed, they perform well enough to have second and third interviews. All these interviews boost their confidence, have them thinking they are so close to landing a position and then, again and again they get informed that the job has been offered to and accepted by another candidate.

The enthusiasm required for a sustained job search is indeed bolstered by initial success, but when the job offer is just beyond one’s fingertips and gets snatched away, it’s a tough experience to go through. Now repeat that several times over a period of six months to a year and you begin to sense how frustrating that must be for the people concerned. To add to this frustration, not only are they not getting hired, but when following up with employers to get feedback, it’s hard to hear that they think the candidate performed really well and there’s no tangible piece of advice they can pass back to improve on future interviews.

In other words, in attempting to figure out how to improve or where they are falling short, they get nothing to work on, nothing to adjust. So if they can’t figure out where they are going wrong, the feeling arises that they are likely doomed to repeat the experience. They’ll fall short again and again because they’ll go on acting as they’ve always acted, saying what they’ve always said, and hoping for a different outcome.

It’s not like they want to hear about some fatal flaw in their approach, but at the same time, they’d actually rather have someone find something to address rather than hear a sympathetic, “You did great. Don’t change a thing.” Sure it’s affirming and validates all the effort they put in to perform at their best, but the end result is the same, no job offer.

For a moment, let’s de-personalize the application process. Instead of talking about you specifically, let’s look at a reality. In any competition; for a job, a race, a trophy etc., there has to be a number of entrants for it to truly be a competition. The bigger the prize, the stronger the competition. Each individual or team competing trains and competes to the best of their ability and in the end, wants to feel they’ve given it their best shot. Some know they are longshots to win and others feel they’ve got a legitimate chance of winning it all, seeing themselves as a favourite to win. The one thing all of the competitors know without a doubt though is that there can only be one winner. The longshots who finish eighth often cite pride in doing their best and acknowledge that those who finished first and second are just that much better; they are at a different level of compete. The second place finisher? For them it stings. They were so close they could taste it. Next time around they vow to get hungrier, so they work harder, they make adjustments, but they also acknowledge they did their best, they just came up short to a competitor who on that day, performed better.

The competition for a job is much the same. You know when you apply that there will be others doing likewise. A reality is there’s one job to be had and therefore there’s going to be one successful candidate and everyone else who will fall short. This is a reality you have to accept when choosing to apply. Your job is to position yourself so you come across as the best candidate. What’s meant by, ‘best’, is responding to the needs of the employer. If you succeed in addressing all their needs, (this you can control), it’s going to come down to their preferences in the intangibles, (this you can’t control).

In other words, there isn’t a shortcoming in you. You are doing nothing wrong. There’s nothing to fix, there’s nothing to change in your performance. You did the best you could, you stayed authentic and genuine in your delivery and represented yourself to the very best of your abilities. In the end, they made their choice and this is their prerogative. It stings absolutely. If you still want it bad, let them know. Those hired don’t always work out, or new needs arise and you might be considered a month or two after this disappointment.

But all competitor’s for a race or a trophy have one thing you may not have; a Coach. Someone who they listen to, take advice from, someone who will give them honest feedback and push them to find that elusive next level of compete.

So who’s your Coach? Excellent advice is to find someone you can establish some chemistry with. It’s no guarantee, but perhaps they can indeed give you some single piece of advice to consider that in the end makes a difference. Whereas an employer might not feel comfortable sharing how to improve, a professional Coach, someone experienced and with a track record of partnering successfully with others will. I’m not talking about your girlfriend or sister’s friend here, I’m talking about a professional Employment Coach.

It’s not the answer for everyone, but it just might be the answer for you.


The Best Don’t Always Get Hired

Sometimes the best people find themselves not being chosen for employment opportunities. They submit strong applications, they interview very well, but someone else gets the nod. Yes it happens and we need to acknowledge it. So should the good people of this world stop applying for jobs because the best don’t always win out in the end? Of course not.

Take for example your unionized workplace setting. In these kind of settings, it is more than occasional that someone who is better suited to a position finds themselves finishing second to someone else who meets all the minimum requirements but doesn’t necessarily sell themselves as the best candidate. The seniority of the applicant might trump the performance of the person who is better which is indeed unfortunate. That to me is always perplexing, as I’ve always wanted the best candidate to get the job.

The above scenario does happen in unionized workplaces; sometimes a unionized employee upset with finishing second to a better candidate will even grieve a hiring decision and sometimes win the appeal. Imagine the implications of that process. Two people apply, the Management decides on the person they feel best meets the job requirements, the person who finishes 2nd grieves this to their union, an appeal is launched, and the decision overturned. So now you’ve got someone in the job that everybody knows wasn’t the initial choice and the best person isn’t in the role? What a message to send everyone.

Another situation could be that the interviewers and the selection panel aren’t skilled enough in their own jobs to make the best decisions, and so they just pick the wrong candidate and the best get passed over. Even when entirely competent, interviewers could themselves be stressed out, mentally fatigued or distracted, overly tired or ill. In other words the usually good judgement they have is distorted and they make a decision they’d otherwise not make. In short, they are human and err.

My point here is that because people are at the key of the selection process, errors are possible because no one is infallible. We always hope of course that every single time the very best candidate gets selected, and where we personally are involved we trust that person is us.

What often comes into play in the selection process are the factors that go beyond the written requirements in a job posting. Oh sure the educational requirements and skills are printed in black and white, as too are the job responsibilities. However, often the person making the final decision is looking at other less well-known factors. So you could have a decision at that point made on things like team chemistry and personality fit. Can you imagine a job posting that says, “Applicant must mesh with existing chemistry of the present team”. How could you prepare yourself for that?

Looking at things from the point of view of those making hiring decisions, you really do have to look at the environment that you are going to be adding a person to. Do you want to stir things up with the inclusion of a strong personality or are you looking for someone to mirror what currently exists? How will the addition of one of the three final candidates for a job impact on those currently working on a team? All candidates might look entirely qualified on paper and interview very well, but the best person for the job might be all three of them and only one can actually get hired.

And so it is that you might be told, “There was nothing more you could have done to get this job, and you interviewed very well but another candidate was selected.” Is this a good thing or not? Nothing else you could have done. I’d say that is actually great news. Sure you didn’t get the job, but it would appear you left it all on the table and didn’t hold anything back. Your personality might have just not been a good fit for the organization and the people you’d be working with. So that in turn could mean one of two things; you may not have worked out well and thus have been happy yourself working with them, or if you hear that again and again, you might need to consider a change in the vibes you are giving off.

Do yourself a favour though. Only about 1% of job seekers ever even think to write a note to an employer after they have been rejected for a job in the final decision. Think about writing a note expressing your disappointed with the end result but at the same time wishing to let them know of your continued interest in the role or a similar position. Hey if you got to the very end and finished number 2, it could be that number 1 doesn’t work out after a month, or another opening comes up. Write that letter and maybe they realize they should have hired you in the first place.

Exceptionally qualified people – the best people – do sometimes finish second. That’s life, it happens and it’s not fair maybe but it happens. If you give up, you will lose out 100% on all the jobs you don’t apply for – guaranteed.