Why Did Someone Less Qualified Than Me Get The Job?

Posted by: Marc

Why Did Someone Else Get That Job

Losing out on a job is always painful, but it’s especially hard when you know you were ideally suited to the position. Whoever got it couldn’t have been more qualified. So what’s going on?

There are a few reasons why ability, experience and qualifications won’t necessarily get you hired:

1) Nepotism

The old ‘it’s who you know’ line remains as true as it ever was. Even if you’ve gone through a laborious, multi-staged interview process and ticked all the right boxes, there’s no guarantee that the position wasn’t always destined for the CEO’s nephew. Frustrating, yes – but at least it provides some consolation when you’re in the throes of rejected despair. When nepotism rears it’s ugly head, there’s nothing you could have done differently. Move on to the next opportunity with your head held high.

2) Modest CV

Often, the most able candidates are prone to under-selling themselves on their CV. It’s understandable – you don’t want to come across as a braggart – but demonstrating and quantifying why you’re suited for the position you’re applying for is absolutely crucial. Remember, your CV is all that a hiring manager has to go on initially. It has to communicate everything you want them to know. There’s no point ‘waiting for the interview’ to show off your full range of skills if you never get to the interview stage.

If, for instance, your previous role was nominally a sales assistant job but in reality you had managerial responsibilities, talk about those responsibilities on your CV. Explain how you exceeded the expectations of the role to become a de-facto team leader. Don’t just reiterate the job description you received when starting that job.

Having an objective perspective on your own CV is impossible. Show it to people you trust and consider their opinion when re-drafting.

3) Immodest Web Presence

Graduates entering the job market for the first time in 2015 have grown up online. They’ve joined social networks, or started a blog, and maybe said some silly things along the way. If they’ve used their real name for online activity as a teenager, they may come to regret what they see on page one of Google when looking for a job.

You might think employers should disregard the personal indiscretions or loud-mouthed political opinions of a candidate, but it would take a superhuman feat of restraint to resist searching the name of a potential employee. Always assume that recruiters will Google you. If that’s a cause for concern, consider hiring an SEO specialist who can ‘clean up’ your online presence so your ill-advised stag weekend photos are buried under something more innocuous. Ramp up your privacy settings on Facebook, and if you’re an active commenter on a potentially thorny subject, start using a pseudonym – it’s a right you’ll wish you’d exercised when the time comes to hunt for work.

4) Talented Wallflower

You’ve got the skills and the experience, a whistle-clean online reputation, stellar CV and have ruled out nepotism as far as is possible, but you’re still getting rejected. Is it possible your application is just a bit… forgettable?

Recruiters are gathering information on many individuals during a time-critical, high-pressure process. They’ll read several applications either side of yours. Many of them will be equally qualified for the position. Developing a knack for sticking in the memory of an employer could make the difference between a new job and another rejection letter.

To counter this effect, and avoid being seen as another blandly well-suited candidate, it’s worth taking a few risks on your CV. If you’re going for engineering positions, describe/link to a 3D model you’ve created. Visual statements are more memorable than cookie-cutter declarations like ‘I work well in a team’ so be a little bolder on your application if you want to stand out from the crowd.


Marc is a Director of The Talent Hive and leads our IT recruitment practice. Originally from the UK, Marc has been living in Christchurch, New Zealand for ten years and working in the recruitment sector for just as long. Marc has worked as an in-house recruiter and within multinational recruitment consultancies and independent SME recruitment businesses.

At The Talent Hive we specialise in connecting IT & Engineering professionals with the right career opportunities. We encourage collaboration, socialising your success and sharing industry insight and expertise. Start the journey, connect with The Talent Hive today.

Categorised as: Job Seeker Advice