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  • Writer's picturePenny Langstaff

I Can Do That Job So Why Was I Declined?

Job Application Form Online

You’ve submitted a good CV and cover letter, you know you’ve got the experience and skills required and yet you received a “sorry, you haven’t been successful” email. So why were you declined?


The job you’re applying for is too junior

It’s often difficult to tell from a job advert what level the role's at, but reading between the lines can often give some clues. If the company’s looking for “at least 3 years’ experience in design engineering and you have 10-15, then they’re likely looking for someone at an earlier stage in their career. Similarly, if the ad talks about “knowledge of” or “understanding of” and you’re an advanced user or have significant experience, it’s likely the job’s too junior.

The company isn’t a “good match” for your background Skills and experience should be transferrable and industry sector or company size shouldn’t matter.  However, if you’ve always worked in manufacturing and are applying for a role in corporate services, the hiring manager may be concerned about how quickly you’ll adapt. In a market where job numbers are reduced but applicant numbers have increased, a company can be more choosy. It’s crucial you “sell” your relevant skills & experience in both your CV and cover letter to increase your chances of being shortlisted.

Your CV and/or cover letter don’t “sell” you for the job

If you’re not adapting your CV and cover letter for every job you apply for, then you’re not submitting a strong application. When recruiters or hiring managers receive large volumes of applications, they’ll often scan a CV for the key skills and experience they’re looking for. If you haven’t included these in your CV (assuming you have them of course!) then you could easily get overlooked. A “Key skills” section in your CV is a good way to highlight these – just make sure you change them for each application!


Unexplained gaps in your CV

It’s no problem taking time out from work but cover these in your employment history. Recruiters and hiring managers can get nervous if they see gaps and often will be too busy to call for an explanation. You don’t need to say much - just dates and a sentence explaining what you did is usually sufficient.

Your information is too difficult to understand or too detailed to read Imagine yourself as a recruiter or hiring manager reading through 50 applications.  How easy is yours to read?  Bullet points are good but space them appropriately, keep them relevant and avoid using unique company specific acronyms.  If you’re from overseas and looking for your first job in NZ, add a hyperlink to each previous employer’s website and a sentence explaining what the organization did.

Finally, the one reason you can't do anything about is that the role has either been withdrawn or filled internally. In the ideal world, you'd be notified of this but unfortunately that doesn't always happen. As long as you have covered off all the other possible reasons for being declined, you will finally start getting some positive results.

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