Job Search & Interview

Picky Employers: Why They Are Picky And How To Convince Them  

If you’ve been wondering why there are so many picky employers out there, remember that you aren’t alone. Many job seekers grapple with this reality. It’s too common to see a long laundry list of skills and other requirements in job adverts. Although there’s nothing unusual about lengthy skill requirements, some employers go overboard.

An ever-increasing number of hiring managers use the list to find the perfect candidate. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to fill the positions, owing to the somewhat lofty requirements. Because of this, the positions often remain vacant because most applicants don’t meet the requirements.

Information technology is undoubtedly one of the fields that employers tend to raise the bar. Companies of varying sizes may become picky due to the tighter competition. To make the matters worse, the tech space evolves at a lightning pace.

Picky hiring managers want employees capable of helping drive innovation and growth in a cutthroat business world. So, expect employers to become choosy if you’re looking for a job opportunity in critical areas. On the other hand, some companies are looking for the perfect candidate because the position comes with top-dollar perks.

Another issue is that companies are asking for more from new employees to enhance the chances of finding committed professionals who stay with the same organization for longer. It’s also common for hiring managers to avoid signing anyone requiring training or retraining.

Some companies are even willing to rely on external consultants until the right person comes along. Such arrangements can last for many months. I’ve also noticed that the laundry-list trend is resulting from the rise in freelancing.

You should remember that companies aren’t only looking for skills. There are other things like experience on successful projects.

Degree inflation

According to a study conducted by Harvard Business School Professor Joseph Fuller, many employers raised the bar by revising job requirements upwards. So, it’s now common for hiring managers to demand bachelor’s degrees for positions that previously didn’t need one. In doing so, employers close doors on people with relevant experience in favor of university graduates.

Professor Joseph Fuller calls this tendency degree inflation. This study revealed that the requirements typically apply to middle-skill jobs that aren’t professional careers. These are jobs that require more skill than a strong educational background.

A good example of the changes in the requirements relates to production supervisors. Currently, only 16% of people in these positions have a bachelor’s degree. Yet, when you think of it, two-thirds of new openings require one. On the other hand, degree inflation is not a new phenomenon.

As the researchers shed more light on the phenomenon, it becomes clear that the context of modern degree inflation is unusual. Over the years, many analysts reviewed the trends trying to make sense of the context in which degree inflation takes place in today’s labor market.

While millions of Americans are either underemployed or don’t have a job at all, the Harvard study shows that one in three employers struggle to fill middle-skill positions. These roles typically don’t require a college education as long as the candidate has something more than a high school diploma.

What fascinates me about this phenomenon is that it’s more than just a matter of perception. There’s a contradiction between labor market trends and the increasing time to hire. Still, picky employers approach the market as if it were ice cold.

Professor Fuller believes that degree inflation is due to companies’ unwillingness to train new talent. Instead, they’re willing to bear the brunt of a long time to hire while waiting for job-ready professionals.

One of the most interesting revelations by the Harvard study is that there’s no difference in performance among professionals with or without a university degree. Only a third of the American workforce has college degrees. So, why are interviewers so picky?

How do you look appealing to an employer?

When trying to get a job, picky hiring managers are one of the challenging things you can face. In such cases, you need to meet increased education and experience requirements. Because of that, stakes in the labor market are higher than ever.

You may find yourself rejected for positions that you’d have previously qualified for. Thankfully, there are ways to land that role you’ve always wanted. One of the best ways to get it right is to frame your transferable skills in the context of the position you’re applying for.

For starters, you must be likable. Even the pickiest hiring managers can make decisions based on who they like the most. So, be the type of candidate the interviewer likes to hang out with. The likability factor can boost your chances when the competition is stiff. For this reason, maintain a positive attitude.

Apart from showcasing your credentials and wealth of experience during the interview, let the interviewer know how you can be a solution to particular on-the-job challenges. As such, research the position and company thoroughly before the interview.

Make sure that the hiring manager is aware of your abilities or unique qualifications in the early stages of the interview. You should present yourself according to the requirements of a particular position. This approach helps put you ahead of other candidates more than your resume can.

Picky employers want to see how much relevant experience you bring to the job. With this in mind, don’t forget to list paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work and internships. Include anything that the interviewer could find useful for the open position.

Also, incorporate well-chosen keywords that the employer will most likely be on the lookout for. I’ve noticed that an ever-increasing number of companies now screen applicants’ resumes using the software. The digital tools often scan for particular phrases and keywords.

If your resume includes the required keywords matching specific skills, you’re more likely to be shortlisted for interviews.

Demonstrate a passion for the company’s products or services

If you’re passionate about what the company does, you increase your chances of getting the job. From experience, I can tell you that picky employers usually test job applicants for motivation.

Hiring managers look for candidates who strongly desire to make a difference at the company or in the industry. By demonstrating high levels of motivation, you bring a positive attitude to the role. A highly motivated new hire can survive the day-to-day challenges associated with the position.

It’d be best to familiarize yourself with the company’s mission and align with it. You can impress interviewers with your knowledge of the company’s vision and history. But that knowledge alone isn’t enough. Find a way to explain how you fit in, given the company’s overall mission.

When it comes to demonstrating passion for products or services offered by the prospective employer, it’s advisable to prove that you’re already a user. Alternatively, just show considerable interest and knowledge of a particular service or product. Having significant knowledge and interest can greatly boost your chances of being moved forward into the shortlist.

That said, you can also convince a picky hiring manager to choose you even if you don’t have significant knowledge of specific products or a competitor. In such cases, demonstrate high levels of interest in the company’s industry.

Fit with the role and aim for good timing

Another way to convince picky interviewers is to prove that you fit perfectly with the position’s scope of responsibility and day-to-day challenges. So, find something relevant to highlight in your cover letter, resume, or interview responses. If the employer wants someone with experience in a particular area, show a track record that makes the hiring manager believe you’ll thrive in the role.

Consider applying for a job opportunity that comes at the right stage in your career. For instance, if you’ve gathered considerable experience in, say, business development, and you want to change track. In this case, you should find it easier to convince a prospective employer to give you a role in your preferred field.

A hiring manager will most likely believe why you want to switch to a new career. On the other hand, you’re a job-ready candidate – something that appeals to picky employers. Your situation differs from someone desperate to move or has been pushed.

Make a good impression by avoiding risky business

When thinking about why are employers so picky, it’s also important to focus on making a good impression in your interview. In doing so, you influence how the interviewer perceives you. This perception may also extend to how customers and co-workers will interact with you.

For this reason, I recommend adopting an energetic and positive approach. Also, showcase your best qualities and professional achievements. Another crucial thing to consider when applying for a new job is to scan the internet for risky content linked to your name. Employers typically shun risky candidates.

Perform a Google search to identify anything that may jeopardize your chances of landing the job. Picky employers may reject your application if they discover unflattering stuff about you.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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