Why You’re Not Getting Hired (Let’s Open Up a Can of Worms)

There are plenty of blog posts, articles, and videos about how to find a job but not too many about why you’re NOT finding one so we decided to play (insert your favorite doc) on (ER, House, Grey’s Anatomy or whatever your favorite medical drama is) and try to diagnose the problem.

With that in mind, here are some of the most common causes of not being able to find a new job:

You’re not Evel Knievel. In an interview several years back Evel Knievel was asked why he performed a particular stunt if he knew there was a 50% chance of him dying trying to attempt it. His was response was, “Do you know who the hell I am?”

I get this attitude from candidates quite a bit and I want to answer them with a quick, “No, no I do not” before they even ask.

The solution? To quote Ice Cube from one of his earlier songs, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” It’s great to have confidence in yourself (and is required to be succesful in the job-search) but having the, “do you know who the hell I am” type of attitude will not get you far.

You stink at job-search. Not comfortable anywhere around networking? Send out 1,000’s of résumés and interview hundreds of times and no closer to the finish line? It’s more common that you think.

The solution? DO NOT STRESS!! No one is born being a pro at job-search – it is a skill-set that takes practice, time, and educating yourself to master.  

You are unrealistic. Making 50k right now but think you’re underpaid and want 85k to make a move? Been out of work for 18 months but still think you are gonna get above the going rate? Won’t make a move unless someone gives you five weeks of vacation right off of the bat? I don’t think so.

The solution? Come back and see me when you come back and join the rest of us in reality.

You aren’t as good at your job as you think you are. Do you feel you are a 9/10 in your job and everyone else feels you are a 3/10?

The solution? Before you try to sell yourself as the second coming do an HONEST assessment of your skills, strengths and weaknesses so you know exactly where you stand and what types of positions you should go after.

You are very unlucky. A big piece of job-search is being at the right place at the right time and maybe so far that has escaped you.

The solution? Be patient and continue to do the things that have proven to work for so many others (networking, networking, networking).

You’re ‘that’ guy. Send an email and leave a voicemail everyday just so that the 20 employers you have applied to over and over and over and over know that you’re still interested in the 40 positions they have open that you are not a fit for?

The solution? Calm down, take a breath and go after some new opportunities that fit your skill-set without harassing anyone.

You are abrasive, angry and full of hate. This is more common is more than you think. Maybe you are angry about your current situation, or about being laid off, or that your lawnmower didn’t start on Saturday. Whatever the case is you are angry, mad, abrasive, and just unpleasant to be around.

The solution? I wish I knew. When I find myself feeling angry at the world I always find that speaking to someone helps me with the process of putting myself together.

You are stuck in the 80’s (or maybe even the 70’s). Have no idea what LinkedIn is? Anti Twitter & Facebook? Don’t know how to use MS Word? Think the Internet is the devil himself? Ouch.

The solution? Learn how to use today’s technologies NOW (and I mean NOW) whether you use them in your job-search today or not you will need them for future searches.

The world is out to get you. Maybe you are 55 (or 45, or 35, or 25) and no one will hire you because of your age (at least in your own head). Maybe your old boss has let everyone know in the state that you live in that he would not hire you (at least in your own head). This list could go on and on.

The solution? Get over yourself and your hangups and get to work getting to work and don’t worry about whatever everyone else is doing.

You don’t believe in yourself. Maybe you have never been out of work before, maybe you have never had to look for a job – they have always found you, maybe you have been out of work for a while and are questioning your abilities.

The solution? Boy, I wish there was an easy answer for this one but I really don’t have one. Real situation affecting many, many people? YES. Easily solved in a blog post? NO.

Hopefully you are the exception to the rule, you don’t fit into any of these categories and your search will be short and sweet. If that be the case good luck in your new job.

If you fall into one (or more of these categories) examine your current situation and what you have done in your search so far and take a different course of action if needed.

Until next time – good hunting and good luck!


18 responses to “Why You’re Not Getting Hired (Let’s Open Up a Can of Worms)

  1. Matt:
    This is an awesome post. The solutions you advise are real, honest and on target.

    I don’t think most people realize all the skills that being in job search requires.
    Technical savvy
    Project management
    Writing and speaking

    I truly hope more people learn to hone these skills BEFORE they need them.

    Hannah Morgan aka Career Sherpa

  2. Can you please correct the misuse of the word “your” in this post? After reading the post directly above this one about the importance of using correct grammar, I can’t help but laugh.

  3. Matt – You said many things we all are thinking. Another piece of advice to the job seeker – self esteem takes a big blow when you are fired, laid off, looking for work for a long time. It will help to volunteer somewhere and make a difference for someone else. While time heals those wounds, pouring into another’s life speeds up the process.

  4. Matt thank you for posting, great information! I also agree with Nancy, while you are searching for your next opportunity you have some time on your hands, so use it to help others. Volunteer! Get out and help others on their job search – network-volunteer, you never know whom you might meet or what opportunites come from those experiences. It is also very good for the soul and can be very fulfilling during a time when you are in need of a lift up.

  5. Just in the past few months I have meet a few Evel Knievels, but many more unrealistic, unlucky, angry people that the world is out to get.

    However, like you said, the ones that sadden me most are the ones that just don’t believe in them selves any more.

  6. One of the best things I have done to build confidence is get a job. Not the job I want to ultimately have, but a job that helps me build confidence, see people every day, and solve problems. The ultimate job will come along eventually.

  7. Very well said! What we are finding the most is the “unrealistic” expectations for today’s marketplace. I’ve actually had a candidate tell me that he “demanded” a company car when I asked him what his compensation areas were. Times have changed and expectations need to be adjusted.

  8. This is a very good post, Matt. I like the theme picked up by Jeff and Kim in the comments about rebuilding self esteem. As you noted, this can be hard to do, but low self esteem really hinders the job search (particularly at interviews). Taking care of yourself physically (exercise and nutrition) and emotionally (relationships and spirituality) are also important.

  9. Matt,

    Your blog is very much appreciated! It was just what I needed to read this morning. God used you in my life today.

    Having always been employed until two years ago and then finding a job 10 months later that I thought was the last of my career , just to be laid off again in April, is tough on the emotions. One thing I learned from the last job search is you never know who the person is that will give you that lead to your next job. Networking took me a while to learn last time around in the job search.

  10. “Take two self-awareness tablets and call me in the morning”. If only it were that easy…
    Matt, thanks for sharing this article-definitely good for a lighthearted laugh. We see these glaring issues everyday. It’s the “elephant in the room”. Some people can be coached to develop new attitudes and personal beliefs-but we all know change is a long process…So, no better time than the present to get started. -Kaizen

  11. Matt – Thanks for great post! Some great comments too.
    One archtype that we’re increasingly seeing is:
    You are acting entitled: Maybe you’re employed, or maybe not, but the new opening is YOURS. There’s nobody on Earth better qualified for that job. The only reason you weren’t chosen is for a nefarious reason – it couldn’t possibly be your bad attitude or lack of social (or any other) skills. Show your displeasure by cussing out everyone at the hiring organization from receptionist to CEO.

    “There are plenty of blog posts, articles, and videos about how to find a job but not too many about why you’re NOT finding one…”
    Here a blog that focuses on how NOT to find a job: NotJobs

  12. Christie Berger

    Hi Matt,

    Great post. I agree with a few others about the impact on self confidence and the lingering sense of desperation that starts to creep in. So many in the search process (even those with all the KSA’s and confidence) start to questions their worth and abilities. That is why it is so important to find some activity (such as volunteering– hopefully with a dual purpose of networking) to partake in. I also recommend people to find objective (not the spouse or kids) support structures such as a job club or networking group to get real feedback and sometimes just a shot of encouragement. Thanks for the great post!

  13. Pingback: Summary Sunday | Guide for Lifetime Career Navigation | Career Sherpa

  14. Ouch, you’ve highlighted some hard but necessary truths here!

    As hard as it can be, it’s always worth focusing on the “why you’re not having success”. I devote a module of my online coaching program to that subject, and usually one of my one-to-one coaching sessions with clients.

    It’s tough at the time, but ultimately encouraing – much like this post. Excellent stuff!

  15. Perfect! Great reminder.

  16. Hi Matt

    Your blog is awesome

    I am ecstatic that somebody actually understands my predicament.
    This is awesome stuff.

    This post has helped renew my faith in myself.

    Seeking employment is an art to be mastered.

    Hopefully I do so sooner rather than later.

    Keep up the excellent advice.

  17. Great stuff. Sometimes looking in the mirror alone is not enough allow for an objective self evaluation. Coaching comments from an objective 3ird party can help immeasurably. I think people forget that they are selling themselves in a tough economy and you have to make sure the value you bring to the table is needed, tangible and you can communicate it in writing and verbally.

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