Hiring Managers Are Not Your Cheerleaders

One of the hardest things for my students to come to grips with, when I taught employment interviewing, was the idea that hiring managers were not going to give them the benefit of the doubt in their applications.

I repeatedly stressed that hiring managers have a large stack of applications to go through, and so in order to make it manageable they have to look for reasons to cut people from the pile, not reasons to keep them.

Students felt that this was incredibly unfair, and that since they worked so hard on their applications, the least the hiring manager could do was spend more than 30 seconds glancing over their materials. And so what if they had a typo — shouldn't they still get credit for the rest of their application being really good?

I'm sorry to break it to you, but it just doesn't work that way.

In most cases, a hiring manager or member of a search committee is looking through applications in addition to their full-time job responsibilities. This is not something they have loads of time to do, and they have far too many applicants to spend time thoroughly weighing the pros and cons of every single applicant.

Your application needs to be as perfect as humanly possible because there are no gold stars for effort in the hiring world.

On another occasion, when I suggested to a coaching client that she cut irrelevant material from her resume, she countered that if she didn’t get this position, the organization might suggest another job to her based on her other skills.

In rare cases, this is possible, like when an organization just happens to have another job about to open that happens to be a fit for the other skills you listed. But in the majority of cases, listing information not tailored to the job at hand is simply going to make you seem unfocused.

The hiring manager is not your friend, they're not your cheerleader, and they're not your job coach. They're not going to go out of their way to give you the benefit of the doubt or help you find a job. They're looking for reasons to cut you from the pile of applications. Don't give them one.