Today we are experiencing a technical candidate’s labor market. Companies are investing in and prioritizing technical team expansion. Demand is outpacing supply, and the labor market employment rate for technical professions is essentially 100 percent. However, for a skilled technical professional, even when the market is in your favor, there is competition. Being a qualified candidate will not always mean you will gain the offer you are pursuing. So then comes the process of managing your way through rejection.
In the case that you end up not receiving an offer from a company that you had pursued with interest and enthusiasm, you could take one of two approaches. You could find all the reasons why you should have received the job opportunity, identify the weaknesses in the employer’s selection process and dwell on what should’ve been. Or, you can choose the positive approach and see each opportunity as a learning process, using the lessons to improve your ability to earn the offer you desire.
Here is a place to start. There is an common saying, “That everything has a way of working out for a reason.” That simple guidance has a basis in evidence. Employee satisfaction and employment duration stats leap up when both the employer and employee start with the impression that best fit was achieved at offer.
So if mutual a sense of best fit is the objective, then anything less is a career path compromise for a candidate. Consider these five approaches in your job seeking process:
Understand the process of determining best fit helps you understand the complexity of the decision
Employers are going to consider a number of elements to determine fit that go well beyond skillset and experience. If an attractive employer is searching for a .NET developer with six to nine years of experience, and you fit the description, understand that there is much more they are evaluating.
- What was the team size of your past employer? Is it similar to the prospective employer’s team size?
- Where are your skills in an N-tier development team?
- Are you a jack of all trades or a better front-end, middle or back developer?
- Are you a collaborative team player or an individual performer?
- Are you familiar with the prospective employer’s project management methodology (i.e. Scrum, Agile, Waterfall)?
- What source code management systems (i.e. TFS, Visual Source Safe, Subversion, etc.) and code deposit disciplines have you worked with (i.e. Daily unit tested deposits and builds, or weekly)?
- What integrated development environment (IDE) and code libraries have you worked with in past roles (i.e. MS Visual Studios and 4.1 or 4.5 libraries etc.)?
- What architectural patterns have you learned and do these align with the interviewing firm (i.e. MVC, MVVM)?
All this matters and will be evaluated relative to competing candidates as the interviewing firm debates the success and failure matching candidate job history, views, assessment of your match to these elements of fit and their budget. Knowing these details about the employer’s tools, disciplines, structure, SDLC, architectural patterns and interests before you go into an interview can help you prepare. However, understanding that the employer is looking at numerous candidate dimensions beyond skillset and experience means that if in their minds the best fit is not you that says little about your talent and ability to contribute to the right firm.
Keep Pushing Forward
Recognize that because organizations are looking at a complex array of elements to determine fit, rejection will inevitably happen in the job search process even to high caliber candidates. Walt Disney and Steve Jobs met with failure prior to finding their best fit! Not earning the offer is easy to channel into disappointment. It is better to instead use that experience as motivation to continue to search to find the best fit for you with an attractive employer.
When you do not get the offer, consider it your gain. This attitude is a mental discipline. It was not the best fit for you and best fit is still out there. You will be able to continue to search and lend your abilities to another company that will gain from your time and talent.
Learn from Past
As you continue to search for the best fit role for you and your talents, take an inventory on what you liked about the role you just heard back from and where you would like to take a different approach moving forward. Ask the second and third question before you engage in a process. Explore and make decisions about your preferences such as what environment are you seeking, management philosophy, corporate culture qualities and benefits.
Also recognize that attractive companies make decisions for a specific role in the context of a group of finalists. Your skills are a dynamically developing asset. There are opportunities to stay on an attractive firm’s radar for future opportunities. So leave a positive, final impression. Two things to remember here:
Grace in Parting
Leave a positive final impression for the interaction: thank them, stay positive and seem gracious for their time. You never know what kind of impression you will leave and who is watching with interest in future endeavors.
Just because you were not a best fit for this position does not mean you wouldn’t be a welcome addition to the company. Casually stay connected with those you interviewed with or had a positive relationship with. A few weeks, monthly or years down the line, the best person could be you!
When you look to see a job interview process as a positive experience for both parties, you will likely receive that positive outlook no matter what the outcome. As you continue to interview, consider every side of the situation and how you could benefit in the long run.