I was a supervisor making hiring decisions for several years before I moved into HR.
For all those years, I wondered about my process for hiring.
HR would set up interviews for me, but the hiring decision was mine alone. I was in my early twenties. I was surprised that nobody except me had to approve my hiring decisions.
I would have liked to have someone to confer with. It was a big decision — because only one person can get the job, but sometimes I met three or four qualified candidates.
I wondered how other managers made their selection decisions, so I asked them. Sometimes they said “I tend to hire the person who understands the job best, and asks the smartest questions.” Other managers said “I hire the person with the best work experience and academic credentials.”
I wondered “Is it only in this company that managers make hiring decisions based on shifting and oftentimes very personal factors?” Then I became an HR person, and I had the opportunity to talk to lots of other HR people. Here’s what I learned: deciding which candidate to hire is nearly all art, and very little science.
Hiring managers who can honestly describe their own hiring processes say “I make my hiring decisions based on input from my brain, my heart and my gut.” There are intangibles in the mix. It is no different from the applicant’s point of view.
How do you decide which job to accept, and which jobs to walk away from? You have to weigh the factors you know, but you always realize there are things you can never know about a new job — or a new employee — until you actually start working together.
Your degrees and experience get you in the door, but a live human being has to decide to hire you, and that is a personal decision based on factors the hiring manager him- or herself may not even understand.
There is a subjective element in any hiring decision. You cannot get too attached to any job opportunity, because if you do then you might be crushed when they hire someone else (or don’t hire anyone at all). You cannot afford to waste your precious mojo that way.
The key is to interview as often as you can, and keep putting new irons in the fire. If someone doesn’t want to hire you, fine! They can hire someone else. You cannot stop and pine over the job opportunity that got away. You will never grow your flame wishing people could see your talents when they simply cannot.
Many if not most job seekers make the mistake of believing that if they interview for a job and don’t get the offer, they messed up somehow. They think they failed. That’s ridiculous. Six or eight people interview for every available position — sometimes more than that. Only one person gets the job.
You cannot beat up on yourself just because you interviewed for a job and didn’t get it. It doesn’t mean anything. You might have hated the job if you got it!
You don’t need the whole world to appreciate your talents. There are people who resonate at your frequency and lots more people who can’t see the gifts you bring and therefore don’t deserve them.
Keep your focus on finding the people who resonate at the same frequency you do. Everybody else —including hiring managers who seem to love your background but then drop you like a hot potato and stop returning your calls — is welcome to live and long and happy life without you.
Forget about them. They are on their path, and you are on yours. Your assignment is to be yourself, not the version of yourself you think hiring managers want to see. The only way to grow your flame is to sing your own song, no matter who likes it and who doesn’t.
When you meet the right hiring manager, you and they will know it. The frustration and hassle you went through to get to that meeting will suddenly feel like a worthwhile investment. Mother Nature only gives us new lessons when she knows we’re ready for them.
Your job is not to get every position you interview for, or to please anyone you meet on the job search trail. Your job is not to squeeze yourself into a tiny box to try and make yourself attractive to a hiring manager who could never see your brilliance. Stay on your path instead, and keep walking. The right manager will show up when you least expect it!