Here’s why your application has been rejected

by May 18, 2023

Why your application has been rejected

Was it a lack of the right skills and experience or are there other reasons why your application has been rejected?


The job market today is highly competitive and job seekers are frequently confused, discouraged, and even angry when they get that rejection email if they get one at all. Many think they were the perfect fit and checked all the boxes, but they fail to be called for an interview despite their excellent background and qualifications.  They don’t understand why their application has been rejected.

While many assume that they didn’t make the cut is to do with a lack of the right skills and experience, a rejected job application can also involve a number of other factors which influence the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s decision.

Reasons why your application has been rejected

1. High Volume of Applications

In today’s digital age, job postings can quickly attract a vast number of applicants. As a result, hiring managers are often overwhelmed with the task of screening and selecting candidates for interviews. It is important for your application to be on target – not just in terms of the skills and qualifications required but do try to use some of the keywords found in the job posting.

One important thing to note, whatever you might read, there is NO ATS bot randomly cutting candidates. All parameters are set by a human being and if a ranking system is used (LinkedIn Recruiter offer one) any decision not to check lower-ranked job applications is made by a person.

2. You haven’t followed instructions

There is a lot of misleading advice around by-passing the hiring system and doing your own thing. This advice tends to come from the U.S. where individualism is valued and rewarded (Hofstete.) Going straight to the hiring manager can work in other geographies but there are no guarantees because this approach is not appreciated in all cultures. So if a recruiter asks for a cover letter – provide one, and follow other specific instructions associated with the process.  Any special efforts should be a supplement to the requirements of the system, not a replacement for them.

3. Over/under qualification

The fact that you are overqualified for a position can, surprisingly, work against you. Employers can be concerned that candidates with higher qualifications than required will become bored, dissatisfied, or leave the company in search of a more challenging role. They may be worried that the candidate will be too expensive ad some hiring managers don’t like the thought of having to manage a person who has more experience than they do.

To get around this, tailor your CV to emphasise the skills and experience most relevant to the position in a way that may allay concerns.

4. Bias

Employers often prioritise finding a candidate who fits well within their company culture, as this can lead to higher job satisfaction, employee engagement, and overall productivity. It also makes them easier to manage. Confirmation and conformity bias have a strong influence in the hiring process which is why the concept of “Mini-Me” hiring persists.

5. Internal Candidates

Sometimes, companies have internal candidates in mind for a position before even posting the job externally which accounts for why your application has been rejected. External candidates might be overlooked despite having strong qualifications in these cases, as the employer may prefer to promote from within. Sometimes companies are carrying out an external search to benchmark their internal talent.

6. Timing

Different recruiters have different protocols for selecting shortlisted candidates. Some use a “first come first served” basis others wait until the job posting has closed. In a highly competitive market, many recruiters have increased the speed of their response in case candidates get caught up in other processes. It is therefore better to apply early if you can and respond quickly. You will be surprised how slow job seekers can be to engage even with green circles in their profiles. It really is a question of you snooze you lose.

7. More suitable candidates

Although this is a bitter pill to swallow there are times when there are more suitable candidates. Note I didn’t say better. Try and get feedback if you can for the reasons behind your rejection and see if it is something you can work on. Sometimes it isn’t.

Job search is challenging and requires patience, persistence, and resilience. Remember throughout the person to take care of is YOU.


If you need help with your job search get in touch today


Staff Writer: Career Contributor
3Plus welcomes any writers to join 3Plus as a Staff Writer. If you are an expert in Job Search, Career and Mentoring or just want to share your experiences, contact us! We would love to give you a voice!

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