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I can’t get a job because…

There is hardly a job seeker that can’t give you a really “good” reason why their situation is worse than most and they can’t get a job because of it.  Certainly there are challenges that many people face that may make it more difficult, but most people over estimate how large those challenges are. Also, there is almost no challenge that can’t be overcome with the right attitude, approach, and determination.

I regularly hear people tell me that they can’t get a job because:

  • I’m too old and face age discrimination.
  • I’m too young and companies are hiring older more experienced people.
  • I don’t have a degree.
  • I’m over qualified with my graduate degree. image
  • They are only hiring men.
  • They are only hiring women.
  • I have physical restrictions.
  • Companies want more experience with a particular skill.
  • Companies don’t want much experience these days.
  • I have too many jobs on my resume.
  • I’ve been at one company too long.
  • Companies are only hiring consultants.
  • Companies are focused on diversity, and I’m not “diverse”.
  • I’m a minority and face discrimination.
  • It’s a “Good Old Boys” network, and I’m not a “Good Old Boy”.
  • …and many, many more.

The reality is, depending on the company, each of those things may be true. AND depending on the company, none of those things are true. 

After 23 years in the executive search business, I can honestly tell you that many of the traditional barriers that used to be common, are all but gone.  “Conventional Wisdom” about age, or race, disability, or sex discrimination just don’t exist anywhere near where they used to even 10 or 20 years ago.  Certainly there are instances where it occurs, however, they are isolated and rare.  Most people that are convinced that they are being singled out though, “find” discrimination, or negative business reasons everywhere.

In fact, for almost any person that gives a reason why they cannot get hired, you can find another person with the same circumstances that got a job.  It may take more effort. It may take a different approach. However, the biggest stumbling block to getting a job is often the mindset of the seeker. 

As in anyone’s job search, they can benefit by some good search tips:

  • Call company contacts instead of applying online and waiting.
  • Network, Network, Network!
  • Follow up regularly – persistence pays.
  • Pursue all leads, you don’t know where the right job will come from.
  • Put in enough daily time and effort – treat your search like a full-time job.
  • Be prepared – in introductions, interviews, phone calls, follow ups, etc.
  • Keep a positive attitude!

Most people don’t treat their job hunt like a full-time job, and so their search drags on much longer than necessary.  When the job doesn’t come in the timeframe they’d like, it’s easier to blame it on other circumstances. 

Plan your work, and work your plan and the right situation will come!


Thank you for visiting The Wise Job Search. I truly appreciate your interest. If you like the material here and would like to help keep it viable, please peruse and visit book recommendations, and other resources posted throughout the site. Best wishes on your continued search, and feedback is always welcome!


Anonymous said...

Great reminder for me! I hear these "reasons" every day from job seekers and maybe I am getting soft in my insistance in a positive attitude and aggressive job search strategies. Thanks.

Kris Plantrich

Bonnie said...

Many job seekers even phrase their frustration as "Why won't anyone GIVE me a job?!?" I think that says a lot in itself.

But part of the reason so many people are making (usually incorrect) assumptions about why they were not hired is because employers/hiring managers don't provide any feedback. I'm not saying they SHOULD (although that would be very helpful!). I realize it's impractical to do this for every candidate. But job seekers are people, and like you said, Harry, most people prefer to find fault in their "circumstances" rather than themselves.

It's difficult to help them when we don't know the exact problem... (but you're doing a great job! :-)

Anonymous said...

In my coaching practice I hear many of the same refrains. When I ask people how they know these are the factors, they rarely have an answer.

It is human nature to look for reasons we can't accomplish, but with out independent confirmation, they are excuses. To combat the frustration and anger, take action.

Regardless of the reasons, and trust me, you will not get the reason by asking the interviewer or recruiter, the changes are the same.

Record a mock interview and review it with a critical eye/friend. Read a comprehensive job search book that all aspects of job search.
Make the appropriate changes.
Watch how you dress, make all your emails and writing the best it can be and refine your elevator pitch to reflect what distinguishes you from others who do what you do.
Once you have made these changes, your job search may just become a lot easier.

Rita Ashley, Career Coach
Author:Job Search Debugged
Author: Networking Debugged

Keith Gormezano, Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor said...

The one thing most job seekers forget and anyone who is self employed or has their own company like myself knows is that you need to think of yourself as a company seeking a joint venture with another company.

That means if you can't bring value to the table, the other company is not going to want to do business with you.

Keith Gormezano
Dr. QuickBooks & Quicken of Greater Seattle - I make house calls to help support and train you one-on-one

Anonymous said...

You are wrong. EEOC stats regarding fully corroborated discrimination complaints will tell you this.

In this Tea Party (GOP) laden era, refusing to hire qualified candidates because of race and sex is more prevalent than ever ever before.

The pendulum regarding equality is swinging backwards--back to mindsets pre-1960. So, those of you who say otherwise, are the ones denying opportunities because of race and sex, or prefer to keep a blind eye to stupidity.

Specifically, White males over the age of 45 remain the predominant decision makers regarding employment. These males, esp. in the south, are selecting what the organzation should look like regarding color and sex. They do not want too many Blacks, or too many Hispanics or too many Women in power over males.

It is simply the truth.

Harry said...

Thanks for your comment (Anon), however, I respectfully disagree.

While I never said that discrimination doesn't exist at all, I do contend that it's nowhere near the degree that many people assume it to be.

Even assuming you were correct, though, and things are grossly unfair, the more you focus on positive ways to overcome the obstacles, the greater success you will have. Clearly, others with the same circumstances, do get jobs.

Best wishes,


Anonymous said...

Oh, it’s a given that Black, Hispanic, and Women candidates are positive when applying for jobs. Why would they not be? Very seldom does a Black candidate with a Ph.D. or a JD walk into an interview un-positive. Insanity would have an applicant approaching an interview with a scowl on his/her face.

No, the lamb and tiger can only live in peace if the tiger agrees to do so. So, yes, Blacks and Hispanics do get jobs. However, for every 10 interviews it takes Buffy Vanderbilt (with only an Associates degree) to get two job offers, it takes Shaqueta Johnson (with a Bachelors degree) 25 interviews to get just one job offer.

The moral of my post is to keep the record straight: Skills, preparedness, and positivity are non-negotiable assets for all candidates to have, but minority applicants HAVE to be better, stronger, smarter, and quicker to get ½ the interviews that White candidates are handed. The stats bear this out time and again.

This is the Tea Party era, and I am, literally, an EEO/Civil Rights Investigator for a state agency. I have investigated thousands–I mean thousands--of complaints and the ends to which employers will go to exclude a group would make your mustache curl. The stories I could tell you.....–oy-va! :)



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