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"We've decided to move forward with candidates more aligned with our company..."

In this job market, when applying for jobs and braving several rounds of interviews, in my opinion, there is nothing more triggering than seeing, "We've decided to move forward with candidates more aligned with our company."

What do you mean by that?

Other than the fact that it's a general way to say you weren't chosen, it could mean several things:

Hand writing on resume

Skills and experience

The competition is FIERCE, especially when you're just starting your career and you feel as if your skills and experience fit perfectly for the position. You may even have worked in the same industry as the title you're applying for, but if the interviewers feel like someone relayed their skills and experience better, it's game over.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you have years of experience, entry-level jobs will say that you're overqualified for the position. Usually, it's from a bag of assumptions on the employer's part:

"They will leave for a better salary/position."

"They will likely get bored with this position."

"This person could advance quickly, and we will need to hire for this position again sooner than later."

Cultural Fit

Clones Screaming "One of us!"

Cultural fit could mean so many things, but I take it as meaning that the company wants everyone to have the same goals. This is why it's important to do some reconnaissance on any company you know you're going to have an interview with! Visit their website and read their mission statement so you can find a way to work it into why you applied and how you'd be a great fit. But remember, you are also interviewing these companies; checking their mission statement and reading reviews from past employees can help you decide if you want to spend your time applying.

Reconnaissance is a good way to spot any red flag language similar to :

"We are all family here!"

Translation: We don't have boundaries, and you'll never know what work/life balance is.

"This is a fast-paced environment."

Translation: big workload, barely any breaks.

" You'll wear many hats in this position."

Translation: Again, boundaries. This phrase is typically used with postings I describe as "bag 'o' jobs" because the job title says, "Graphic Designer," but the job description also lists tasks aligned with a videographer or a producer.

Woman doing calculations with coins on the table

Picture credit : Getty Images

Salary Expectations

Unfortunately, profit is the bottom line for much bigger companies, so if they can squeeze every ounce of life out of you for a barely livable wage, they'll do it. That's why being vague about salary expectations is one of the main problems of today's job landscape. We've all heard about the job descriptions listing the salary as a range between $29,000 - $100,000 which translates to a lack of transparency. What I like to say in response to salary expectations is : " What is the range for this position?" when I speak to the interviewer or recruiter, because it usually catches them off guard and they'll tell you the actual range. This is a good way to decide if you want to move forward and negotiate your salary.

Solution: Feedback

It's unrealistic to expect every company to give personal feedback when you apply for a job, but it is reasonable to want feedback on why you weren't chosen for the position after an interview. If you have the email of the person that interviewed them, send a note thanking them for the opportunity ( I know, I know), and ask for any feedback they have on your interview to help you improve your skills as you navigate the job market.

Be prepared to receive silence or a "non-answer", but it's worth it if you can get some worthwhile information on how you can elevate your interview experience.

Overall, this sucks.

I'm unemployed and learning just like anyone else, but I don't want anyone to make the mistake of internalizing rejection as something wrong with them like I did.

Top comments (9)

cubiclesocial profile image

"They will likely get bored with this position."
"This person could advance quickly, and we will need to hire for this position again sooner than later."

Those are effectively the same thing. I ran into a concept a number of years ago called the Norris Number. A Norris Number is 2 * 10 ^ x where x is the skill level required to build a given piece of software. The vast majority of software developers sit around a Norris skill level of 2 or 3. That is, they can comfortably build 200 to 2,000 LOC apps by themselves (i.e. not in a team setting) and where LOC is not counting imported libraries (i.e. strictly application code). Each bump in skill level requires a significant mental restructuring around how apps get designed/built. There are far fewer developers that can comfortably build 20,000 LOC apps (level 4) from the ground up by themselves and maybe a handful of devs globally that can solo design and build 200,000 LOC apps (level 5). But a small team of level 3 and a couple level 4 Norris devs can build and maintain much larger apps than the individuals can build and maintain on their own. There are only a few dozen level 6 apps in the entire world and those are designed and maintained by large teams (e.g. monolithic OSes and web browsers).

What I'm getting at is that individuals and organizations have a Norris Number. Both sides can look at their own apps to determine that Number. If an organization has mostly level 2 and a couple of level 3 Norris apps, then a level 4 Norris dev is going to be overskilled and probably bored. If an organization has a single level 4 or level 5 app and they hire a level 1 or level 2 dev, then that developer is going to be completely overwhelmed. It doesn't matter what programming languages the developer is accustomed to - most devs can generally adapt to unfamiliar or even unpleasant languages fairly quickly. Norris Number is, IMO, a better deciding factor of fit when it comes to developer skill level than anything else and could replace the resume if everyone could agree on it. I realize this is a pipe dream but I'm fairly confident that it would dramatically simplify and speed up the interviewing process for software development positions when both sides can just compare a single number.

Somewhere around Norris level 4 (i.e. 20K LOC), software development stops being about writing code and more about human level interaction. Norris level 4+ developers spend far more time talking with the users of the system than doing actual development work. Is writing code still important and still attempt to meet deadlines? Of course. But the code that gets written is a byproduct of a series of conversations and interactions with stakeholders and end-users. The end result might take a little longer to develop since there's less code writing happening but will generally create a better, higher quality product.

I'm unemployed and learning just like anyone else

Don't think of yourself as unemployed. Working for someone else and their objectives may pay the bills and put food on the table but there's more to life than that. Money is less important than everyone seems to think it is. You can always freelance and/or run your own business as you see fit in between formal employment stints. As Captain Jean-Luc Picard said, "There is no substitute for holding the reins." There are limitless options and there is always a need for good software developers.

One final thought: Interviewing to work for an established business is a two way street. You are evaluating them as much as they are evaluating you.

grimkillingbeck profile image

Thank you for the very well thought out reply! And I agree-- as I wrote in the post, we are interviewing these companies as well and we can decide on if they are a good fit for us!

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel 🕵🏻‍♂️ Fayard • Edited

It's unrealistic to expect every company to give personal feedback when you apply for a job, but it is reasonable to want feedback on why you weren't chosen for the position after an interview.

It's unrealistic to expect a software developer team to write bugs with no bugs.
Yet this is absolutely the right goal, this is what the job is all about.
We should not normalize ghosting in hiring because it can feel exactly as bad as in romantic relationship.
You have built up hope and then... nothing. That sucks.

Anyway, take it from someone who now works in recruitment :

You are always 100% entitled to ask for feedback on what happpens in any job interview process. You have spent your time, your time is worth something.

It doesn't matter if the other replies or not, it's about self respect.

grimkillingbeck profile image

I agree with you 100%. I hope it didn't come across as if I was normalizing the ghosting -- I said what I did because, while ghosting is awful, it is unfortunately a thing.

I wrote to my HR contact at a company that I was rejected from for any feedback from the interviewers a couple of days ago. Silence. It's a fairly small office, so I know it's more so just shitty behavior. My expectations were low, but I still tried. My point was to be realistic because that is the reality of things, although it shouldn't be.

pavelee profile image
Paweł Ciosek

Great post! 👏 Keep working! 🙏

grimkillingbeck profile image

Thank you for the encouragement!

lagostechboy profile image
Abiodun Adeniji

Thank you for sharing! Great post!

grimkillingbeck profile image

Thank you for reading!

timdehof profile image

I try to respond to every "We've decided to move forward with candidates more aligned with our company..." email I receive with a reply asking for feedback and never got a response back.