Getting Hired – 2 Things Harvard Won’t Teach You

You’re overqualified.  You’re not a good fit for this company or position.  We don’t have anything available right now.  Thanks for coming in, but we’ve decided on someone else.

Ever heard this?

We all have.  Everyone gets rejected when applying for jobs, regardless of capabilities or talent.  Einstein would get rejected from Einstein’s Coffee.  Mark Zuckerberg would get turned down by the Best Buy Geek Squad.  Donald Trump wouldn’t stand a chance at Century 21.  Here’s why.

If you get a face to face interview, the organization already has a good feeling you’re qualified for the job.  You’ve passed the HR Screeners, and are now getting a chance to back up what you’ve put in black and white.  All that hard work you put in to this point has a chance to pay off with a shiny, new career.  They want to meet you, and interrogate you.  This is why.

Putting a Face with a Name
Quite frankly, ‘Joe Interviewer’ is only mildly interested in your qualifications.  He doesn’t care about the hard work you put in, how many late nights you spent studying, or what your teacher gave you on a report.  Unless you went to a big name college, you might as well be accredited by Supercuts.  Hell, prior to this day, he barely knew you were alive.  All he knows is that you passed the HR screeners, and that MAYBE, you’re a fit for the position… then again so are the other 50 people he’s having to interview amidst his already busy work schedule.

So congrats on having a resume, congrats on having a cover letter, and congrats on having fresh breath, but your future boss doesn’t really care about any of that.  As they stare at you across whatever desk or table they’re sitting at, this is what they’re thinking…

#1 – Do I want to spend 40 hours a week with you?
Are you personable, or are you a friggin’ robot?  Do you do human things?  Do you have human emotion?  Are you funny or pleasant?  What types of activities are you involved in, that I like or am interested in.  Do I like talking to you?  Can you even talk?  Can you be social?  Are you going to scare my Secretary?  Are you going to scare my wife?  Are you generally a fun person to be around?  Can you interact without freaking everyone out?  Are you a hermit?  Do you enjoy life?  Do you have interests?  Do you sound like the person who did perform what they claim in their resume?  Do you possess a character in line with your credentials?  In 30 years, am I going to want you at my retirement party?

Even more important…

#2 – Will You Make Me Look Good?
Do you look for opportunities, or do you wait for instruction?  How likely are you to do something that will get me in trouble?  Do you figure things out, or do you wait for someone to help you?  Are you capable of independent thought that creates value?  Are you able to take a simple command, expand it, and make it better?  Am I going to have to spend time looking over your shoulder and managing you?  Are you going to benefit this place, or is this place going to benefit you?  Are you promotable or are you going to be the forever mail boy?  Is there a chance that you’ll excel so well, it’ll make me look like a genius for ‘discovering you?  Is hiring you going to benefit me?

Harsh as it may seem, everyone wants to appear smarter and better than they are.  Getting hired is more about a playground game of Dodgeball than the ‘Gold Stars’ you got in XYZ class.

I’m Kind of a Big Deal…
So many mock interviews I’ve conducted with recent / upcoming college grads are narcissistic diatribes about all their wonderful SCHOOL accomplishments.  I got an A in this class, I was IT student of the year, I was ranked this in my class.

Quite frankly, nobody gives a sh*t.

Nobody is ever going to ‘high-five’ you in an Interview.

What I really want to know is what you did outside the syllabus or curriculum.  There were 10-100 other people in that class doing the exact same thing as you, where did you find opportunity to use and develop your skills without being asked or ‘assigned’ by your teacher?

Real Life Example:  “I see you worked at a funeral home while in college?  Interesting.  How did they track their customers, burials or whatever business related information they require?  Word Document, really?  You, being the IT student of the year, how come you didn’t build them a database?  Do they have a website?  No?  I see on your resume you’re capable of doing a website, why don’t you have any?”  Burn.

Want to know what outdoes a Masters degree and a 4.0 GPA?  Pure, raw, f*cking talent.  Charisma, capability and creativity will land you the job over any Masters accredited 4.0 grade-wielding cardboard college cut-out.

Final Ra-Ra-Zip-Boom-Bah
Unless you’re Doogie Howser, you’ve been around long enough to know that ‘personal interest’ drives damn near everyone in decision making.  Think it’s any different in Corporate?  It’s not, and you can bet your shiny new college grad butt that drives their hiring decisions.

So Stand out amongst the masses.  When you arrive on interview day, come prepared, and bring killer examples.  Bring a portfolio.  Bring ideas.  Bring personality.  Bring more than the other interviewees.  Outdo your competition, and they’ll no longer be your competition.