job hunting

Why Did I Waste My Time Interviewing When The Company Offered The Job To An Internal Candidate?

iStockphoto.com |  Bet_Noire

iStockphoto.com | Bet_Noire

You just walked out of an interview at a company where you really want to work. After feeling like you nailed it, you’re stunned – and not just a little upset – to learn you didn’t get the job. In fact, you heard that the person who did get the job was an internal candidate. Why did the company put you through an intensive interview process if they were always going to give the job to somebody who already works there?

Both parties involved in a job interview operate with a blind spot. A company can use every traditional tried and true method of recruiting, interviewing, and hiring staff, but still only learn a fraction of a person’s actual skills and fit before making him or her a co-worker. The outside candidate for a job knows even less; he or she has little to no visibility into the decision process that goes into corporate hiring decisions.

In most cases, there aren’t really any federal regulations stipulating any requirements in granting preference toward internal or external candidates during the employment process. Unless it’s mandated in some sort of labor agreement or government contract, companies have a lot of latitude in who they hire.

That said companies tend to have a hiring philosophy. That philosophy is most likely in a written corporate policy governing staff recruitment. There is no single approach, but many companies explicitly state that internal candidates will get preferential consideration during the hiring process, while many others state that the best candidate wins.

This can frustrate both internal and external job seekers, who aren’t playing by a single set of rules. Candidates wonder, “Why did you bother to interview me?” Here are several factors to keep in mind as to why the process can play out the way it does.

  • The process of recruiting and interviewing candidates costs both time and money. A company is not going to spend resources and dollars for practice. Even when company’s hiring philosophy favors internal candidates, the fact that the company interviewed external candidates signals that you had a legitimate chance at getting the position. Otherwise, only internal candidates would have been interviewed.

  • Many employers give internal candidates preference in the form of internally-posted job openings on the company intranet or similar platforms. Depending on the company’s guidelines, generally speaking a public job announcement shows that the company is looking to identify the best possible candidate, which sometimes means an internal candidate and sometimes and external one.

  • Recruitment policy at some companies can be governed by union contracts, which may specify internal and/or union members receive preferential treatment during the hiring process.

  • Even in cases in which preference is not given to internal candidates by default, you are still competing with employees that possess the advantage of already being a known quantity.

  • The hiring process is fluid and the candidate pool may change day to day due to unforeseen circumstances. Internal or external candidates can – and frequently do – accept offers then back out. A perceived lock for a position may have a rocky interview process that reveals they are not the best person for the job. A dark horse candidate, either internal or external, may emerge and end up with the offer.

 In the end, you shouldn’t allow the phantoms of internal candidates deter you from pursuing the job you want. How can you compete more effectively? In addition to polishing your interview skills, you can tip the scales in your favor via strategic networking. This way, you can increase your profile with hiring managers who still may have a need for you in the future.

And as frustrating as you may find the process, try to remember that companies that selected internal candidates for jobs are trying to provide additional opportunities for development and promotion to their employees. As an external candidate, take heart that this could potentially be a sign of an employee-centered culture.


Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

6 Simple Ways To Take The Pain Out of Career Networking

iStockphoto.com |  Rawpixel

iStockphoto.com | Rawpixel

Searching for a job is hard, and one of the more ominous obstacles between you and your dream job is networking. Many of us believe networking is tricky, time-consuming, and painful. Where do you start?

Start small. Tell your best friends you’re looking for a new job. Now, other people know and will either keep you in mind for job opportunities or hold you accountable (wasn’t that was easy?). Networking is like a garden, tend it a little at a time and everything will bloom.

Here are six simple ways to take the pain out of career networking.

1.     Be active on LinkedIn.  Showing up is half the battle. Participating in LinkedIn, by having a good profile and contributing to the online conversation, can accelerate the job search, and help build and maintain professional relationships over the long term. If you post content that builds your brand, you are more visible and more likely to make more – and potentially helpful – connections; great content will drive people to your profile. Not to mention, if you are searching for an “in” at a particular company, you can leverage your network, and your network’s network, to connect with someone at that company.

2.     Maintain contact with people you know. You don’t have to manage a hundred email chains on a daily basis. Little things like a birthday message, or a heartfelt congratulations on a promotion or work anniversary, can keep a professional relationship open. If you are active on LinkedIn, like or comment on business-oriented posts. Share. Once a month, go to lunch with an important contact you wouldn’t otherwise see. If you’re in a position to so, be generous with professional referrals. Nobody has ever complained that someone sent business his or her way.

3.     Be active in professional associations. If you’re a project manager, PMI is the go-to-group. For human resources professionals, it’s SHRM. Depending upon your industry, there is likely a professional organization in your local area you can join whose whole mission is to provide a space for people working in the same field to network. You can take on leadership roles, make new connections, and foster new opportunities.

4.     Attend professional conferences. I know, I know. It’s a great way to meet professionals in your field, but you’re scared of the cost. It’s true that attending a conference often equals a substantial financial outlay. However, think of it as an investment in your future. A professional conference can have a stellar return. Since it’s like speed dating for job seekers. You meet a lot of people at once, hear about a lot of job opportunities at once, and may learn about career paths you had never considered. It’s not unheard of for job seekers to leave conferences with new jobs, or to establish connections that lead to new opportunities down the road.

5.     Call on old friends. You may be surprised how a reunion with old friends can pay off in the present. Next to family, old friends may rise up to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t hesitate to offer it.

6.     Manage your social networks with care. The best way to mitigate any unforeseen fallout from your social networks (not just LinkedIn, but also Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) is to always maintain a professional image, which is a tall order when it’s a social network. Short of that nuclear option, exercise caution when making posts and consider adding people with care.

These are some simple tips to get you going. The rest is up to your magnetic personality!


Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

Yes. Job Hunting Is Really, Really Hard.

iStockphoto.com |  SIphotography

iStockphoto.com | SIphotography

If there’s one single, most important thing to remember about looking for a job, it’s this:

JOB HUNTING IS REALLY, REALLY HARD.

Many people enter the job search assuming that because they have a resume – even a perfect resume – that employers will beat down their door after clicking “submit” on an online job application.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work that way. For each and every job posting a company posts on Indeed, hundreds – if not thousands – of applicants send in their resume. If it’s a Fortune 500 company, anticipate an even higher degree of competition.

And so, as employers look to make their recruiters and hiring managers ever more productive, they put in place technology to shield them from the onslaught of resumes in the form of applicant tracking systems (ATS’s). The systems, which do save recruiters time by using algorithms to sort through applicants, put another layer in between the recruiter and the hiring manager. And so, the recruiter ends up reviewing a small fraction of the resumes received and you may end up in the "rejection” pile even though your skills may match the job description down to the final detail. Then you end up with an anonymous, computer-generated letter telling you the company has decided to pursue another candidate.

And this doesn’t even include the interview or offer process.

It’s brutal.

It’s demotivating.

And it’s life as a job applicant today.

So, how do you get a job when you can’t even get noticed?

  1. Prepare yourself – mentally and financially – for the search to take a while. Job hunting is a marathon, not a sprint. Be diligent in checking job postings and in applying to any opportunities that might be a match.

  2. Make sure your toolbox is up to snuff. Is your resume modern, loaded with accomplishments, and ATS-friendly? Have you built an effective LinkedIn profile, so that recruiters searching the system for talent might find you?

  3. Try harder than the next guy. Be aggressive. Apply promptly to all jobs that are of interest. Tailor your resume to job postings. Identify and sell yourself to the hiring manager. If you do the bare minimum – applying occasionally and waiting for the calls to come in –  you’ll likely get minimal results.

  4. Remember, it’s not you. Don’t let a bad process kill your morale. As hard as it may be in practice, it’s important to stay positive. Channel your energy into applying to more jobs, not frustration. The process isn’t fair, but it is conquerable.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.