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Job-Hunting Truths: What 'No' Really Means

Job-Hunting Truths: What 'No' Really Means

Jeff Schmitt | BusinessWeek

Employers are no different with you. In some interviews, your counterparts will quickly size you up, right or wrong. They will look to reinforce their initial impressions. They will make assumptions about your experience and expectations.

It can be any factor. They may see you as too old. Too young. Too smart. Too expensive. Too pretty. Too plain. Too fat. Too short. Too bald. Too flashy. Too quiet. Too female. Too male. And too much like your predecessor. There are no hard and fast rules. And it may have little to do with the real you. It happens.

Employers Have Limited Resources

Employers want experience—they just prefer that someone else provides it. Today, companies face pressing financial pressures and skill gaps. Many times, they truly need someone who can hit the ground running. Fair or not, many talented candidates don’t get the luxury of starting slow and building momentum. Some employers simply can’t afford a long onboarding or hiring mistake, simple as that.

Employers Are People Too

Face it, accidents happen. Résumés get lost in the shuffle. People honestly forget to call. Your references may inadvertently raise red flags. You cannot control these situations.

Plus, believe it or not, rejection is hard on employers, too. It is uncomfortable, even painful, to tell candidates they chose someone else. They are worried about their jobs, too…and those jobs are on the line with the people they hire. They are naturally going to be risk-averse. Most decisions are close calls—and there are doubts. You just never see them.

There Is Always Hope

It is easy to feel sorry for yourself in a job hunt. Despite this temptation, you need to put on a smile and reach out. Tune everything else out and press on, even when you feel you are going nowhere. There will be times when you are cheated. There will be times when employers won’t see past their blinders. Keep your spirits up. Don’t dwell on the call that never comes. Let it harden your resolve. Let it force you to evaluate yourself. A career is never an uninterrupted string of successes. Eventually, you will find a fit and a place to call home.

Jeff Schmitt works in publishing in Dubuque, Iowa. His monthly column, “The Personal Touch,” is published by Sales & Marketing Management magazine at His e-mail is

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