Why Won’t Anyone Hire Me?

TO: LOGAN
FROM: BEVERLY
SUBJECT: AM I EFFING UP
I don’t understand how I have such bad luck. Everyone I know is getting jobs, and I’ve been applying for jobs for over a year and I’ve gotten no jobs. Interviews, but no jobs. Statistically it seems impossible that I haven’t had one single job offer. Is it impossible?

I just looked at Facebook and this kid I went to college with posted that he got an account executive job at the best ad firm in the city and and I slammed my hands down on my desk and hung my head so dramatically that the secretary asked if I was ok. (I have a job right now, it’s just a horrible job and I hate it.)

Why everyone else. Why not me.

TO: BEVERLY
FROM: LOGAN
SUBJECT: RE: AM I EFFING UP (no)

I’m going to skip the part where I ask if there’s something wrong with you. You’re a smart person. You know what you’re qualified for, you know what you can exaggerate being qualified for. You know how to spell your name on your resume. You’re doing great, you’re just not getting jobs.

You aren’t getting the jobs you are applying for because those jobs never really existed, for you or anyone else. They hired someone internally. They hired a client’s kid. They hired somebody’s friend’s friend. They hired the boss’s niece. Or maybe they really did hire from the pool of applicants, in which case: They got a million applications and interviewed the first five that came in and went with the person who went to the same school as the interviewer.

This is how people get jobs. This is how you are going to get a job.

The past year you’ve spent applying to jobs has not been a waste of time. Some might argue that it has been but I will argue that it has not been. It’s practice. Builds character. Keeps you on your toes. Gives you some hope, even if it does end up dashing it mostly.

Most of the interviews you go on are with someone’s assistant or a low-level HR person who can’t help you. But one day one of those low-level HR people are going to leave to work at a new company, and when that company is talking about a new position they need, and everyone is scraping their brain about who they know that they can put up for it, she is going to remember you, this swell gal she interviewed for this “open position” that went to the founding partner’s neighbor’s son, but maybe she’s still looking now, wonder if she is. And then that’ll be your job and you’ll live happily ever after until one of your friends offers you double the salary to come work for them.

So keep applying for jobs. Make sure everyone who knows and loves you and even people who don’t but would still like to be the one to raise their hand in a meeting and say, “I know just the person for that, sir,” know that you want a new job. Go to bars. Ask people out for coffee. Meet as many people as you can. Eventually one of them will know someone who will know someone who will offer you a job. That’s how it works.

As far as comparing yourself to others: Stop that. What a waste. Every now and then, sure, have a little hissy fit, that’s fine, but then take a shower, wash that shit off, and move on. Those other people have nothing to do with you. NOTHING. They just knew someone who knew someone. Soon, you’ll know someone, too.

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24 Comments / Post A Comment

@Beverly – I sorta disagree with this advice because every job I’ve gotten I never had an in and I got it anyway. Good candidates can get jobs without ins. It may take longer though.

One thing you could try: see how you could improve your applications and interviews in case there is something you could be doing better that is holding you back. Could your cover letters be better? Could you be trashing your current employer in interviews? Are you not seen as a culture fit? Once you get an interview, you should know that means they think you’re qualified. Now they just want to like you in the interview. So maybe concentrate more on making a connection than assuring them you are qualified.

Personally I try to tweak things for each opportunity and I feel like eventually I got really good at it. It also took me a year to find a job, from a job I hated, but it’s a great job and it all worked out. You can do this!!

sherlock (#3,599)

@Claire Henry@twitter It also might be a good idea to ask for feedback on your application from places that interviewed you but didn’t hire you. This might vary by field, but my company has done this on occasion, and I know other companies in my field do as well. As long as you’re polite, it probably can’t hurt. Even if they aren’t willing to do this, it at least shows that you are serious about the job and can follow up, which as Logan points out might make them remember you the next time.

theballgirl (#1,546)

@Claire Henry@twitter This is good advice! I am in the same boat; all the jobs I have had were found/obtained by me alone. My one ‘trick’, (aside from everything you mentioned!), if you could call it that, is finding a way to connect with the interviewer on a personal level. Be it where they live, what they’re wearing, or just something inane they mentioned, showing a (seemingly) personal interest somehow ends up with me landing WAY more jobs than the norm. Although you have to be super careful this doesn’t come across as fake. It’s a fine line for sure but I promise it can work.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

Also: the market fucking sucks. It’s not just you. I just started a new job a couple weeks ago after four months of unemployment. I applied for about 80 jobs in that time period, interviewed (phone or in person) with 15 or 16 organizations, and in the end got just the one offer which was luckily a fantastic one with a great organization and I’m very happy. But still. I went on a TON of interviews that I felt great about and either was rejected or never heard back. Such is the market. It sucks, until one day it doesn’t because someone has offered you something awesome. Hang in there!

I could have written this letter in January. I was literally crying almost every day because it seemed everyone else was getting great jobs while I was languishing in one I loathed. The only thing I would add to Logan’s great advice is to consider temp agencies if you haven’t already. My friend tipped me off to one and I’m making more money than I was at my old job. It IS temporary, but if you’re like me and a change is what you need until you figure out the next permanent step, it’s something to consider.

clairapluie (#805)

If anyone lives around SoCal or is willing to move, PM me – we are looking for some entry level people at our job.

pearl (#153)

@clairapluie I’m not necessarily looking for a new job now, but I’m curious to see what’s out there/comparable in the LA area. If you don’t mind, could you send me a link to the job posting, if available? Sorry, don’t know how to PM here! My email is pearljchoi at gmail. Thanks!

Lily Rowan (#70)

As an Old, I know what happened to me in my mid-20s — I got an interview from almost every resume I sent out, but almost never got the job, and it’s because I was a terrible interview. I was sabotaging myself trying to seem “smart” and “serious” and instead I took five minutes to answer every question and I’m sure I seemed slow and boring. Being confident that you are qualified for the job, and remembering that if they hire you, they’ll get your real personality are the things I try to remember going in, even still. I mean, if they don’t like my actual goofiness and generally casual attitude (not to getting the work done!), then they will not be happy with me in the job.

@Lily Rowan Yeah I wish someone would tell me or show me what a good interview looks like, because I’m sure that’s where I’m usually messing up. All of the advice I’ve been given is along the lines of “When they ask X, they are REALLY asking Y” and it makes the whole thing feel like a theater game rather than a human interaction and I feel like I ramble in the hopes of saying something that’s the right answer eventually.

Lily Rowan (#70)

@Amanda@twitter I was always too scared of rambling! Or maybe I had one bad experience with it, I forget.

Here is the other lesson it took me 20 years to learn: Prepare ahead of time! You can guess the kinds of things they are going to ask, so come up with an answer! I swear to god, the number of times I have been asked to share a recent success, and couldn’t come up with anything is embarrassing.

Lily Rowan (#70)

@Amanda@twitter Also, maybe try doing some informational interviews? They will certainly ask you about yourself, if in a less directed way than an interview-interview, and then you can ask for feedback on your personal presentation.

e (#734)

@Lily Rowan yes, I think if she’s getting interviews and not the job, then the place to focus is on the interview. Practice standard interview questions with friends. Come up with some practice questions for your interviewer- at the end when they say, “any questions”, ask them some about the work culture, etc- the kind of questions that are basically disguised-suck up. Stuff like, “i saw online that the firm won an award for blah blah. Did any of you work on it? Because I was wondering how the blah process for that worked?”

Also be nerdy and over prepared. I brought more copies of my resume and cover letter with me to the interview and handed them out to the interviewers which was great because no one there had a copy- the people who interview here are not connected to HR who does intake. That kind of thing.

Trilby (#191)

I’ll give you the same advice I give my kids. Send out resumes. Keep your resume to one page but fill the space with detail. (No typos!) But don’t go into hobbies and personal stuff. You need to have a certain unspecified number of resumes out there in the pipeline before you start getting responses so don’t give up. Always include a personalized (for the job) cover letter!

Apply, apply, apply. Go to as many interviews as you can get– you need the practice, everyone does. Once the interview is over, forget about that job and look for the next opportunity. Don’t dwell on that dream job. Like a shark, keep moving.

When you are being interviewed, be the most up-beat, positive-energy person you can be, even if totally fake. When asked about your last job or present job, say “I love the job, it’s the best job I’ve ever had! The people I work(ed) with are fantastic. I would work there forever, if only–” This part, you have to figure out according to circumstances.

One most important last thing– in your interviews, say as little as possible while looking/seeming as intelligent as possible.

I guarantee this works! Money-back guarantee.

themegnapkin (#444)

@Trilby agree, especially about the upbeat, positive energy. Before my last interview (for my current job), I drank 2 cups of coffee. At the time, I wasn’t a regular coffee drinker. It made me peppier than I am normally, and just right for an interview.

SterlingCooper05 (#2,529)

I would agree with this IF she wasn’t getting interviews. Few companies are going to bring “unqualified people with no chance of getting hired” in for an interview. I had the same problem coming out of school…I could not interview well! I thought my resume spoke for itself and was hesitant to toot my own horn during the interview. I finally started practicing with everyone I knew and become very comfortable with the interview format. It worked wonders and gave me the confidence to talk about why I was the best candidate for ANY job opening.

mysterygirl (#2,058)

@SterlingCooper05: I agree with your interviewing advice, but I do think that a lot of organizations have requirements that they have to do interviews for a job even knowing that it’s going to someone else, just to cultivate a front of fairness. I got my job because, through a friend, I was hired to fill in temporarily, and then because I already knew the workings of the office and they liked me, I was the clear choice for the permanent hire. Even so, they were required to go through the motions of doing a hiring search, etc.. I felt horrible watching the candidates come through the office to interview with my coworkers, knowing there was a 99% chance that they were completely wasting their time and getting their hopes up for an opening that basically didn’t exist. So, I agree that they aren’t bringing in unqualified people, but the interviewees probably still don’t have much chance of being hired.

coastalelite (#2,528)

I need to print this out and stick it on my refrigerator to remind myself to get out and meet people instead of just sitting in front of my computer, filling out online applications for hours. You nailed it again!

siege91 (#1,738)

After graduation I applied for a bunch of jobs off job boards and company websites and didn’t hear anything back, except for automated rejection emails from usa.gov applications (the worst). After a few months I did some informational interviews with people my mom used to work with and eventually got a real interview and a verbal offer. After the interview they sent me home and told me to go apply online. They created a new listing for me to formally apply to, then did a repeat interview, and finally hired me. They never took down the listing from the website. Walking around the office I could recognize pretty much all of the listings on their website as people who had been working there for 1-3 years. I would bet that most company website job portals work that way. Disheartening!

rorow (#1,665)

Agree with the advice in the comments, but am also wondering if a) you’re in New York, and b) looking for an ad role (like your friend).

If so, my agency is hiring like mad.

CRINDY (#1,122)

Applying for jobs is the worst! I am a new grad as of May, have been applying since December, and can’t find anything at all. I’ve only gotten one interview, too, which is super depressing. I have great grades, internships every summer, worked throughout school, proficient Spanish skills, and a good resume and cover letter. I’ve also only had one official rejection, and not even from the one I interviewed with (just radio silence). It’s super upsetting. I’m applying in the field of reproductive health, too, which in my understanding is not a crazy difficult field to break into. I keep wondering if I’m doing something wrong, or if it’s just the state of the market, and I really don’t want to live at home forever. I’m giving myself a month to apply to jobs in my field, and then I’m throwing in the towel and applying to all kinds of jobs (although how will i ever be qualified)? Also, even the grocery store and restaurant positions I’ve applied for in the meantime haven’t written back. Ack.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

@CRINDY Not to be totally discouraging, but whoever told you that it isn’t crazy difficult to break into repro health was LYING. In the major cities with lots of repro orgs and therefore more jobs in that field (NYC, DC, San Francisco, and maybe Chicago & Boston), the entry level positions are fiercely competitive because there’s a hell of a lot of young people just like you who want those jobs.

In flyover country and red states, it’s a little less competitive because no one who wants to work in repro health seems to want to live somewhere where it isn’t accessible, but those organizations have much less money and therefore hire fewer people. And when they hire, they can’t often hire entry level, because when you have three staff for your organization in the entire state and that state is trying to complete limit access to reproductive healthcare, you can’t really afford someone who doesn’t already know how to succeed.

I don’t work in repro health, because even in NYC there are not that many jobs and the ones I applied for didn’t take me. I’m at a progressive economic think tank, and I volunteer in repro health/abortion access and hope to one day move into getting paid for that work, but I highly recommend opening up your search right now. Whatever kind of work you wanted to do in repro health- communications? programs? advocacy? development? education? Apply for those jobs in other areas. The job hunt sucks, and takes forever, and if you’re only applying for repro health jobs then there’s no way you’re sending out enough applications right now.

Cheri (#5,333)

I am really looking for a job anything to make an honest living. I will even work from home doing whatever Data Entry Customer Service.
I have registered with Employee Agencies also on line but I have had no luck if only someone would give me an opportunity they would not regret it I am willing hardworking loyal motivated and love a challenge.

Cheri (#5,333)

Everyone might think I am over qualified but I am willing to clerical jobs I will also work as a Temp preferable I am looking Part time jobs Receptionist Data Entry Administrative I am even willing to do some volunteer work at library or school.I have Banking experience and Accounts Receivable and Payable using Quick Book System. I write short Poems any offer will be appreciated.

Paul85 (#7,111)

Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article migliori film. Thanks! keep rocking!

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