6 Reasons Why You Can't Land a Data Job (And How to Fix Them)

Mar 11, 2023

Trying to land a data job can feel like trying to solve a Rubik's cube blindfolded...with one hand tied behind your back...while riding a unicycle. 🤦‍♀️ 

Trust me, I've been there. But before you start pulling your hair out in frustration, take a breather and ask yourself: are you approaching your job hunt analytically minded, or more like a chicken with its head cut off? 🐔

It’s so easy to be so focused on landing that job that you don’t take a step back & evaluate the entire process.

But it’s important to evaluate where you’re getting rejected so you can find your weak point, work on it, and make it a strength. 💪

Use this 6-point guide as a rubric of why you’re not landing your data job.

Typically, a job hiring will have a 6-step funnel that follows the A.S.S.I.T.H. Method

1) Awareness

2) Surveying

3) Screening

4) Interviewing

5) Testing

6) Hiring

Rejection occurs at any point in this funnel, but based on what step you are getting rejected, you’ll have an action you can take to improve your luck

1) Getting Rejected at Awareness

Awareness is a company, recruiter, hiring manager, or ATS system getting to see your name for the first time.

It’s easy to know if you’re getting rejected at this point because usually if you are, you’re not getting ANY communication about jobs.

But that rejection could be coming from several different places.


You might be rejecting yourself. Do you have so much imposter syndrome that you’re scared to apply to jobs? If so, start trying; see what happens.

You’ll always be rejected if you are the one rejecting yourself. You’ll never land a job if you don’t apply.


If you’re not getting any leads from recruiters, it’s time to evaluate if you’re putting yourself in a position to be seen.

Is your LinkedIn up to date? Are you commenting or posting?

Do you have #OpenToWork on, especially for recruiters? If you aren’t seen, you can’t be hired. So get seen.

💪 Actions:

  • Apply to more jobs if you’re holding yourself back.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile & settings
  • Start commenting and posting on LinkedIn

2) Getting Rejected at Surveying

During the surveying process, the recruiter, hiring manager, or ATS now knows you exist but are you a good potential fit for the job? They’re trying to figure out if they like what they see.

Once again, if you get rejected here, you’re not getting any bites at all. But if you are putting yourself in a position to be seen and get eyeballs on you, and still getting nothing, that means we need to look better as a candidate.

Looking better as a candidate could mean our resume isn’t matching the job description. Maybe it means our resume is too long or has some weird stuff in it.

It could mean that our LinkedIn profile could use some sprucing up.

Perhaps we don’t have enough skills listed, or we don’t have any projects shown?

Do you have good bullets on your resume and LinkedIn? Is your about section up to snuff?

These are the things to consider.

This rejection could be done by a human (like a recruiter or hiring manager) or it could be done by the ATS.

This does not mean you don’t have enough skills. It’s VERY hard to evaluate someone’s skills at this stage in the funnel process.

For example, they might think you don’t have enough experience with SQL (by years of experience), but they can’t tell how good you are at SQL at this point.

Please, if you’re getting rejected here, don’t go take 237 more SQL courses. Instead, focus on if eyeballs are hitting you & if you’re attractive when they hit you.

That means focusing on improving your resume, LinkedIn, network, or portfolio instead.

💪 Actions:

  • Optimize your resume
  • Add projects to your portfolio
  • Ensure you’re a good fit to the jobs you’re applying to

3) Getting Rejected at Screening

Screening means they are done surveying you, they liked what they see, and they’re reaching out to you. Wahoo 🎉

Finally, we are getting some feedback. Typically this will be an email or a direct message on LinkedIn of sorts. They’re going to contact us and ask a few questions.

They liked what they saw, but now they want clarity, or answers to specific questions.

If you’re losing out on the job here, they’ll contact you once, have you answer a few questions via email, or short phone call, and you’ll either never hear back (ghosted 👻), or they’ll send you a rejection email.

If you’re getting rejected here, it could be for three reasons: you’re screening poorly, you’re not a right fit, or you’re not marketing yourself well.

Do you feel like the screening questions went kinda meh? Then that’s probably why.

Felt like you did okay on the questions?

Then ask yourself, am I a good fit for this role? Or would this be a stretch for me to land this?

And then think, did I show them evidence that I can do the tasks (projects)? Did I send a thank you email? Did I carry myself well in the process?

If you got this far though, you know your resume & LinkedIn are doing something right so that’s good. Time to evaluate the jobs you’re applying to & your screening behavior.

💪 Actions:

  • Practice the basic screening questions
  • Do a mock interview
  • Practice selling why you are awesome

4) Getting Rejected at Interviewing

If the screening went well, they’ll move you on to the next round of interviews. This is likely to be with a hiring manager instead of a recruiter.

In this part, they’re going to get to know your personality, as well as your skills.

If you get rejected here, maybe you’re interview rusty. I always tell my bootcamp students, the first interview they do is for practice. It’s just to get the jitters out.

I would suggest doing a mock interview with a friend. One of the perks of The Data Analytics Accelerator Platform is we have a weekly mock interview question.

It could also be that you’re not the best fit for the role, or don’t have enough technical expertise. Or maybe there’s just an amazing candidate you’re competing against.

If you get rejected here, try asking the recruiter or hiring manager for feedback.

Sometimes this is the last round, and you can go to step 6, Hiring.

Other times, they’ll give you some more technical skill evaluations.

💪 Actions:

  • Ask a friend to do a mock interview with you
  • Read about interviewing best practices
  • Ask for feedback

5) Getting Rejected at Testing

Some companies will want to test you further, even if they like you after that first “real” interview. This might include you interviewing in person, or taking a technical assessment.

These vary from company to company, but if you’re getting rejected here at the end, it’s likely due to either a better candidate, or you didn’t sell your technical skills well enough.

Some of these technical assessments are easy to study, so you might want to check out HackerRank or StrataScratch to practice.

For entry-level data jobs, these technical assessments usually are a bit easier.

If you do well here, you’re likely to get hired.

💪 Actions:

  • Solve problems on HackerRank
  • Read Ace The Data Science Interview book or something similar.
  • Ask for feedback.

6) Getting Rejected at Hiring

Wahoo! You got the offer letter. 98% of jobs happen at this point, but it’s still possible to be rejected. It’s super rare, and if it happens, it’s rarely your fault.

This usually only happens when something in the macroeconomy has changed. For example, if you catch a company-wide hiring freeze at the wrong time, or if they rescind job offers.

This stuff happens, and it sucks. But it’s not your fault. Don’t blame yourself.

My best advice is to chalk it up to God closing the window but opening the door. There’s something else in your destiny that you are supposed to do.

I know that doesn’t take the pain away, but just know this is pretty rare.

💪 Actions:

  • Stay positive
  • Ask your network for help
  • Don’t give up

So there you have it, a 6-step guide to troubleshoot why you aren’t landing your data job.

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