Job Hunting: But I Match The Job Spec Exactly Why Am I Not Shortisted?

Clients generally have very specific preferences in their vacancy requirements. This ranges from certain amount of post graduate years’ experience required from the right candidate, to sometimes age preferences for an organisational/departmental fit, to specific levels of seniority. Sometimes they want only local applications for various reasons and will not consider expats, and visa versa.

At times they may have gender preferences, sometimes going as far as wanting single applicants without families when working in remote areas without schooling facilities, a large amount of travel and challenging roster arrangement. Clients may have knock out factors that unfortunately disqualify some candidates who may think they are perfectly in line with the job spec when applying.

For example:

In very rugged and remote areas, some companies will not consider female electrical engineers owing to tough living conditions, strongly male dominated environments etc. depending on the circumstance. Agencies cannot categorically state this in their job specs as it would be seen as discrimination and encourage many unnecessary questions from applicants applying when an agency does not have the time to explain and the preference to every applicant.

Another example:

Age preference. It may be that the department is a young group of people who have close relationships, working excessive overtime, and travelling extensively. In an instant like this, an older candidate with a family would probably not fit in as well with the team, battle with excessive overtime when family is generally a priority to many people, were spending late hours at work and travelling a lot would mean potentially creating strain on family relationships. The client knows that in the long run, and may have very well have had a negative experience with an older candidate in this very position and knows that someone like this will not be with the company for very long. For a client this would be a risk factor and so they would not consider someone in this situation to protect the company’s best interests.

Another example:

There may be a PA with an incredible amount of experience applying to a PA position, but has one module left in completing their degree to be a Legal Secretary. This is their intended career path, and when the client discovers this, it will put them off considering that particular applicant irrespective of how much relevant PA experience they have, as they will not be able to offer a career path that will align with that candidate’s future career intentions. The client does not want to hire someone knowing that they will be keeping an eye open for legal secretarial positions elsewhere.

What candidates also need to realise concerning applications, is that things are not cut and dried when applying to a job ad. Many candidates who apply to jobs fit the spec perfectly on paper, but must know that at times, there are specific requirements and circumstantial preferences that cannot always be communicated in the advertised job spec.

Many candidates do not get the response they want and get very despondent and even angry at times. Owing to the sheer number of applications that an agency gets on a daily basis with certain jobs, they are unable to give personalised and specific details on why applicants might not be shortlisted for a job.

Suffice to say, the agency should be professional in what they do, and so a courteous and basic regret letter should suffice. Some candidates want to demand an explanation as to why they have not been considered, but after understanding the recruitment process, may be more patient with agencies, provided there is some form of acknowledgement for their application. It is unfortunately the way of the industry, but many agencies never provide this courtesy of a simple regret, and so most candidates are left in the dark concerning their applications, sometimes not knowing whether they have even been received or not. You as a candidate reading this needs to realise that you cannot always get individual feedback and should not see it as your right. If an agency phoned candidates explaining why each person was unsuccessful, they would not be able to do anything else and the job would certainly not get filled. It is an unfortunate reality.