We’ve all been there. You read an online job description that seems a perfect match to your consulting skills and availability. You may even get submitted to the job by a recruiter and have one or more interviews with the client. And then… disappointment. You don’t get the role.
If you’re a veteran consultant, you know that the job market is competitive, but that doesn’t lessen the sting of losing a prospective assignment that you really wanted. Don’t take the loss personally. There are lots of reasons that you may miss out on a role, including many factors unrelated to your fit for the position.
Read on to find out why some jobs don’t go your way and how to improve your odds for future success.
Your interview went poorly
Candidates can fumble questions. Hiring managers can be off-putting. Maybe you just didn’t ‘click’ with your interviewer. Next time out, focus on factors that you control, like making time for interview prep to improve your confidence and knowledge. Also get the basics right: know if you are calling your interviewer or vice versa, and don’t be late for a call. Stumbling on small but important interview details can be enough to tip the scales against you.
The job was filled internally
Internal candidates generally have an edge over an outsider. Some clients will open a job, and even interview outside consultants, with a knowledge that an internal candidate is the likely choice all along. Don’t take it personally if you lose a role this way. A client may not always know whether they have a strong internal option until they make the job publicly available.
Your rate was too high
You may demand a premium for your hourly services and good for you—but understand that some clients won’t pay your rate, especially when they see a bevy of quality resumes from other candidates seeking less money. Sometimes you hold all the cards and can stay firm on a high hourly fee, but other times rate flexibility is required to win a role. Your recruiter can guide you on the rate requirements for specific clients as well as what the overall market pays for skills and experience similar to yours.
The job was put on hold
If you get put into a holding pattern after your interview, it’s possible the client is having second thoughts about whether to fill the job at all. Large enterprise IT projects, in particular, can be subject to delays and budgetary decisions that can push hiring out for weeks or months. It’s frustrating to be sure, and clients don't always provide timely feedback on the status of certain roles. Your recruiting firm should do their best to provide you updated information, including the likelihood and timing of whether a role will ultimately re-open.
The job description changed
Believe it or not, the first job description isn’t always the final job description. You may have been a perfect fit for the role as originally posted, but hiring managers, perhaps after reading through a few resumes, may decide they require different skills or add more specificity to the original job spec in a way that knocks you out of the running.
A more qualified candidate was hired
The hiring process—especially for consultants—is almost always competitive. For most roles that you seek, you are likely being compared with others who have similar skills and experience—and you will lose a job on occasion to someone who is better qualified. Understanding that, you can increase your odds of success by keeping your skills current and marketable, sufficiently preparing for interviews, and maintaining strong and current references. When you do lose a role, ask your recruiter for constructive feedback to learn how you might improve and win the next one that comes your way.