How do you ever get the job?

Today, I received yet another job rejection. I asked for feedback from the recruiter, and he gave me some. Everything he said were things that I was also thinking about as I left the interview…but I’m genuinely not sure how to apply said feedback….so maybe read this and give me your thoughts?

What the recruiter told me was this: While everyone really liked you, some of our other candidates were clearer on their motivation for the job and how it fit in with their long term goals.

Yep, that sounds about right, considering my general motivation for the job is “working on something I’m interested in and fits my skill areas (at this company that I like for x, y and z reasons),” and my long term goals are “working in something that’s interesting and allows me to develop said skill areas.”  Which are both totally vague and unconvincing answers.  If I were that company, I would so much rather hire somebody who lays out exactly how the position figures into their five year plan.

BUT I don’t have a five year plan. Grad school? Maybe. Future in industry? Maybe. Developing software? Maybe.  At this point, I just don’t have enough experience to be able to say any more than “I’d like to continue working in the field, and this job will help me to do that.”  I’m not ready to commit to saying more.

So how can I possibly compete with those who come in knowing exactly what they’re looking for?

The real reasons why I want every job I apply to are to a) try it out, b) gain experience, and c) see how I can best pursue my interests from there. I feel like I share this with many job-seekers who have graduated recently.  How can an employer who is hiring for entry-level positions expect anything different?

No amount of soul searching or meticulous five-year planning is going to make me certain of where I want to go in the future.  I can’t just sit down and ask myself to “dig deeper” to come up with my exact interests and goals. Yes, I have interests now, and I have some skills now, but I don’t know where they will lead. The only thing that can help me is to dive in somewhere, so that I can figure out what I definitely like and don’t like.

Plus, this particular position wasn’t one that really requires much passion.  Although it may ask for higher level thinking, most of the responsibilities involved following their “standard operating procedures.” How can anyone genuinely express enthusiasm for those specific tasks?  It’s hard to take someone seriously when they say “why, I’d absolutely love to follow your company checklist all day!” Thus, I think my answer of wanting to apply my skills and contribute to an effective company is a pretty good one.

So where do I go from here?  Obviously, I will work on relating my skills and experiences to the job I’m applying to (there’s definitely room for improvement without resorting to half-truths). The big question is: what do you do when you don’t know what you want to do?  Has anyone else been in this situation? How do you get out of this sticky mess of wanting the job, but not yet having a clear passion for the job?


Note: After reading this, I realize that it is a pretty negative post.  After all, it may just be that the reason why I didn’t get the job is because my answers weren’t polished enough or detailed enough. Any special tips you have that you want to contribute would be greatly appreciated.



One thought on “How do you ever get the job?

  1. thewishingwell says:

    I don’t think this is negative. At least not from my perspective. I think you’re being honest. I think it’s realistic for someone applying for an entry level position not to have a whole five year plan and all that. I guess my only idea for you would be: make one up! o.O I wish we could be more honest in job interviews but that’s not the way it is a lot of places.

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