10 reasons why you didn't get that job you applied for

Once you reach executive level, it can be easy to assume you've got the job application process nailed.

But recruitment experts say even those in extremely senior positions make common mistakes that rule them out of the race.

Here are 10 of the most common mistakes to avoid:

1. Failing to genuinely believe you're the best person for the role

It's probably the most obvious question there is: why are you the best person for this job?

But executive coach Kate Neser says many people stumble over this question, mainly due to a lack of self-confidence.

"It's not so much about being able to spruik your experience, but it's authentically believing in yourself, that you are actually the best person for the job," says Neser, a former chief finance officer in the ACT Chief Minister's Department.

2. Not knowing why you want the job

Neser encourages her clients to think about their passion or purpose for that particular role.

Why are you applying for this job or promotion? What's driving that decision?

"That will be different for everyone. For some people it's being passionately committed to the actual role and what they're producing, or it could be that they just love managing people or they love using their analytical skills," she says.

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"It's really about being connected to the role - again that shows through in an interview."

3. Sounding just like everyone else

Sure, you might be spouting all the right buzzwords, but there's a danger in being too generic.

"You've got to make yourself stand out and it's really that passion," says Neser.

"People won't really remember what you say, they'll remember who you were being. That you made them laugh or you made them feel passionate."

4. Not creating networks

Neser says rising through the ranks is all about creating and maintaining a good reputation.

"The people I see overlooked the most are the quiet achievers. They're not willing to promote themselves, they're not willing to get out of their comfort zone and establish a network and go and meet with people that they don't necessarily have to meet with in their everyday job."

5. Not keeping your CV and LinkedIn profile up to date

This can be a particular problem for executives blindsided by a redundancy, says Paul Hallam, managing director at executive search firm Six Degrees.

"They've possibly been in the same organisation for the last 10 or 12 years and then have to start again thinking about their resumes, and their responsibilities and achievements. Often they've forgotten those or they possibly don't have the performance reviews to hand," says Hallam.

Even if redundancy is not part of the equation, Hallam says keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date provides you with a vital calling card, especially for those roles that are not advertised.

6. Throwing your hat in the ring too soon after redundancy

While a redundancy may put you into panic mode, acting too quickly can harm your job prospects, says Hallam.

So he recommends taking at least a couple of weeks off to get back on track: "Because like any grieving process you go through all types of moods from grieving to anger to delight."

7. Not being honest

Remember Andrew Flanagan, the disgraced Myer executive who was given a plum $400,000 package based on a fake CV?

It didn't work out for him, and being dishonest won't pan out for any executive, warns Hallam.

He notes that organisations are now probity checking all senior level candidates, with information now more accessible than ever.

8. Waffling on

In interviews, dominating the airspace may not be looked upon favourably. Likewise, an overblown CV outlining your entire career is a mistake, says Andrew Hanson, managing director for New South Wales at recruitment firm Robert Walters.

He says your resume should only highlight your last 10 to 15 years' experience, focusing on what you achieved for each business.

"It's not about the number of years' experience or a list of job duties; it's about selling your success story and highlighting your value."

9. Outlining your career objectives

Hanson often sees objective statements on executive CVS, but says at this level, hiring managers are more concerned about what you will do for them.

"Don't waste the prime real estate on your CV. Instead, include a brief overview of yourself and your top three accomplishments that highlight your talent."

10. Failing to research the company

Paul Hallam says some executive candidates fail to research either the company or the people interviewing them.

His colleague was recently placing a senior role paying $300,000 a year.

"The client was really disappointed with the candidate because that client knew nothing about the organisation," explains Hallam

The candidate may still have a chance to recover from the situation, but their prospects are now much rockier, says Hallam: "It went from certainty to 50/50."

Have you been told other reasons why you didn't get the job you wanted? Share your experience in the comments section below.

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