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I think by now, we can all agree. The job search process can be a grueling one. If you’re actively looking for a job, you know what I’m talking about. You apply online and never hear back. Or, maybe you go through rounds of interviews that lead nowhere.

This process can be both frustrating and disappointing at a bare minimum. It leaves smart, accomplished professionals feeling less than. It leaves them wondering what’s wrong with them. Are they too old? Too young? Perhaps they have the wrong college degree? They wonder what it is about them that employers don’t like.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Today’s job seeker is frustrated and fed up. But, what if it wasn’t really you? What if the reason you aren’t getting calls back has less to do with you, and more to do with the process? Hear me out.

The standard line that almost every company says to job applicants is, “Apply online. If you’re a good fit, we’ll call you.” Even at job fairs these days, many of the company representatives will opt out of taking your resume in person and will instead ask you to apply online. This would lead one to believe that applying online is the best route to finding a job, don’t you think?

The problem is, most people still find jobs the same way today that they did in 1990 – through their network of contacts. A hiring manager isn’t just dying to hire a random stranger off of the internet. And, the online tracking systems companies use are still a relatively new concept. I’m certain they will continue to improve over time, but as it stands, many of these systems struggle to get the right candidates in front of the hiring manager.

On top of this, company rules often dictate that they must post each and every job online – even if they already know who they’re going to hire. I’ve seen this first hand. Years ago, I started working at a company as a contract employee. I was brought in as a contractor so that I could start right away, and then was hired permanently months later. But, before I was hired, my job was posted online as a vacancy. It was the same job I’d been doing every day for months. It was the same job that I already had official business cards for. If anyone had applied or interviewed for the job, they may never have known why they weren’t hired.

So, what’s the answer to this problem? It’s not straightforward. But, one thing’s for sure. The reason you weren’t hired could have little to do with you and more to do with the company’s process. My best advice is this. Try not to take this process personally. Go through the interviews and take the opportunity to get to know the hiring manager. The more well connected you are before you apply, the more likely you will be the chosen one the next time around.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

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