Why Do Good Candidates Get Overlooked?

You know you are the best person for the next job. You get your job. You get the metrics. You are thinking a few steps ahead. There’s no scope for error in your work. Then why did you get overlooked for the next job?

You gather the courage to go to the manager. What’s the answer you get? You need to have more strategic competencies. You have the ability to do your job, but need to work harder for the next job. If you probe a bit more, you may get to hear that you are not able to market yourself right. This sticks with you. You observe the new person in the job you wanted. The slight nuances: the confidence, the ability to sell one’s abilities, the ability to wing through situations.

You start applying for external roles. You are again getting overlooked by recruiters and managers.

What’s going on here?

Missing piece of the puzzle: We have all seen this. The perfectly competent internal candidate is ignored and someone who dazzles gets the job, and then systematically manages to unravel a perfectly good operations. I once did a small study with my receptionist. I had her rate the chances of hiring a candidate based simply on their body language and resume, and compared her ratings with those of the hiring manager. Lo behold, there was almost 95% correlation. But when we compared her rating with results of a technical test, the correlation dipped to nearly 60%. What happened here was simple: quite clearly, perceived value is a completely different from intrinsic value.

Perceived Value vs Intrinsic Value: We have learnt from the beginning that the predictors of success in jobs are quality education, good results, high emotional quotient, abilities & skills and a strong network. These then make up our intrinsic value. In theory, high intrinsic value should correlate highly with responses from future employers. When the response is not as high, we interpret it to mean that perhaps our value is not as high. Logic has actually failed here.

Success depends on perceived value, not intrinsic value. Having an authentic perceived value is about effectively communicating and articulating your intrinsic value.

I meet so many business leaders and middle management folks. Some of them, I have worked with personally, and know that they are exceptionally reliable and competent. They may even have good communication skills. Yet, they inevitably end up selling themselves short. Clearly they are not able to leverage their intrinsic value.

Communicating your value: You need to definitely work harder on communicating your value. Some tips and pointers:

  • Position yourself as an answer to commercial challenges: especially showcase ability to respond and anticipate different business challenges, weave in a narrative on application of critical thinking and problem solving skills, quality and process controls. These skills are fungible across industries.
  • Establish your unique identity: This is not easy, but the good news is that the answer is already with you. Look for patterns in your resume which make you stand out from the rest of the crowd.
  • Build your personal brand: Showcase your identity everywhere: Linkedin, Resume, links to any articles you may have written/talks delivered and talking points for interview. Having consistency helps more than you know.  Tip: Linkedin profile does not have to be the same as your resume. It is a funnel for attracting recruiters and should tell more than your resume. Also definitely work on your interviewing capabilities. If you are not able to talk effectively, you will unravel all your hard work.

Starting now, focus your efforts on yourself. Start with re-writing your resume. If you need help, get it. Remember your goal is to showcase your intrinsic value such that the gap with your perceived value disappears.

I am passionate about helping individuals maximize their career potential. With over 15 years of HR leadership experience, I offer a professional, personalized and affordable resume refresh experience.

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