I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak and meet with a lot of people being in the recruitment industry. Often times when I am working through a search strategy with my candidates they will tell me that they’ve come close to an offer but the firm decided to hire the other candidate. They offer several reasons why that might be but the end result is still the same; someone else is in the job that they so badly wanted.
It is an unfortunate scenario but it happens; great candidates come in second place and it hurts! Don’t stress, the past is the past and I have shared simple fixes that will help you nail the interview and get the job you’re after!
Concern: Your experience is an inch deep and a mile wide. You are a Swiss army knife; a jack of all trades and a master of a few.
Think about your strengths and document them. Clearly define what it is you want to do for the foreseeable future and tailor those experiences while highlighting a concise and defined career path. Conduct research on what employers are looking for and what skills are in demand. Once you are comfortable with the outcome, construct a resume that will bring those strengths to life– and don’t be afraid to have more than one resume for each path you are interested in exploring. I also recommend updating all of your social media platforms for consistency.
Concern: You make the focus of your search on increasing your compensation (which is OK just not exclusively) rather than looking at an opportunity holistically. You are money motivated and your compensation expectations are too high and thus you get hurt by sliding into second place.
Make a list of what is most important to you in making a career move and leave compensation off the list for now. Put the “must have” and “nice to have” in separate columns and really work out why you are looking to make a move in the first place as well as what you are looking for (must have vs. nice to have). Think about what is untimely going to get you motivated to put in 8, 9, 10 hours per day. If compensation is the only motivator, make sure to be transparent upfront and let your recruiter and/or the hiring company know what your salary expectations are – never negotiate on the back end of a process if you know that you are looking for a large increase. You may look greedy and even if there is good intent to join the firm. You might seem too money motivated and ultimately be passed over for another candidate. The choices you make will ultimately shape your future and compensation is only one factor you should consider in a career move.
Concern: You have all the attributes and competencies to deliver but are missing a few “must haves” and the management team is not willing to take a risk on you. For example: no MBA, lack of management experience or product knowledge, etc.
This can be a difficult one as your experiences should be clearly stated before you start the interview process. Unfortunately, time and time again, candidates get to the finish line only to be passed over due to the lack of “must haves” by the hiring company. If you are working with an agency recruiter (not the hiring company’s recruiter) confirm up front that you have all of the criteria to proceed in the process. You can also ask the hiring manger and/or HR is there are any concerns that they see that would prohibit them from hiring you. For instance, if a job requirement asks that all candidates have a PMP certification, point out that the job description asks for a PMP certification and you are motivated to get certified but yet to have done so. Hopefully, there is transparency and you won’t endure a long process only to be given disappointing news – second place sucks!
Concern: You are “The Benchmark” – You have great experience, tenure, and meet the criteria but the manager wants to use you as “The Benchmark” to ensure that they have seen a good sample set of the marketplace, even if you could be the “perfect” candidate.
There are so many challenges that we all face when entering the recruitment process and the most frustrating is the lack of transparency. There will be times that you are made the benchmark but it is important that you try to get as much clarity as you can with whomever you are working with. Ask the important questions: How many candidates are they looking at for this position? How long as the position been open? Have offers been made to other candidates and rejected? It is up to you to gain as much control of the process as allowed without looking overly eager or aggressive. You can work with a recruiter that you trust and allow them to uncover the answers you need or you can take matters into your own hands but tread lightly – second place sucks!
The first step of accomplishing any goal is to identify the root cause of the issues/challenges and plan a call to action. Once you’ve identified the areas of the interview that needs work you then can add corrective measures to ensure that you are giving yourself the best chance at landing the job. In an effort to advance in your career be sure to ask for feedback from the company or recruiter(s) you are working with. Collate the feedback and look for trends so you can work on it and land your dream job. It is never easy to be self-facing but once you overcome these obstacles you’ll be one step closer to achieving your long term goal!