Why Qualified Applicants for Tech Jobs Get Rejected

In today’s hot market for technical talent, you might think it’s easy to land any job you want, provided you meet most of the requirements in the job description.

But even with tech’s job market nearing full employment levels, you can still apply to a job that matches your skills and get rejected. Here are seven reasons why that happens, as well as some ways to minimize your risk of elimination.

Exhibiting a “WIIFM” Attitude

Displaying a “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) attitude (versus a “how can I help” attitude) during a job interview will get you the boot, noted Scott MacKinnon, CEO of recruiting firm Technical Connections. It doesn’t matter how technically qualified you are; you need to show a passion for contributing to the prospective employer’s goals.

“The employer is looking to hire someone because they have a problem or issue that needs immediate attention and fixing,” MacKinnon explained. They aren’t going to hire anyone who isn’t willing to put the needs of the team before his or her own.

Instead of inquiring about salary or other perks when the interviewer gives you the opportunity to ask questions, try to gain a better understanding of what the business is trying to achieve and how you can help the team advance. That way, you can avoid the fate of those who seem too self-interested.

Inability to Express Yourself

Even if you correctly solve complex coding problems on a whiteboard, you may end up eliminated from the hiring process if you can’t effectively communicate your ideas.

“Communications skills are becoming increasingly important, especially in small environments where developers need to sell their ideas to non-technical product managers and architects,” said Kevin Reetz, an experienced technical recruiter with Riviera Partners. “That’s why technical evaluators want to understand how you arrived at your solution before giving you the green light.”

You Seem Like a Risky Hire

The more it costs to hire you, the more selective employers become. For instance, if your recruiter will receive the equivalent of 30 percent of your first year’s salary, and you make six figures annually, you’ll definitely need to bring your “A game” to the interview. Otherwise, the hiring manager may figure that the risks of hiring you outweigh the potential benefits.

Seeming Unenthusiastic

Again, employers don’t want to hire people who are simply looking to collect a paycheck; they want tech professionals who are passionate about helping the company build a superior product or service.

To avoid coming off as uninterested, ask questions about the company’s product and how you can impact the team. Also, look for opportunities to describe your interests and the ways that you intend to apply your skills and experience to the company’s goals.

Winging the Interview

These days, failing to research the job, company and hiring manager before an interview isn’t going to cut it. With a plethora of information easily accessible via the Web, hiring managers expect you to ask intelligent questions about the technology stack, provide relevant examples when describing your experience, and show how you might fit in with the company culture.

“From the hiring manager’s perspective, failing to prepare for an interview sends the message that you just don’t care,” MacKinnon added.

Failing the Background Check

If an employer finds that you provided incorrect dates on your application, or that you never earned a degree that you claim to have, your experience and skill set won’t matter. (And by the way, regardless of marijuana’s legal status in your state, you may still be required to pass a drug test if you apply for a position at an international company.) Make sure that all the information listed in your application is truthful.

Requiring an H1-B Visa Transfer

Even if you meet the key job requirements, getting a new employer to consider you for an open position becomes more difficult if you need to complete an H-1B visa “transfer” (officially known as a petition to change employers) to switch companies.

“Some employers are hesitant to consider applicants who don’t appear to have a strong enough case to qualify for a specialty occupation,” Reetz said.

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