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7 Reasons You are Never Going to Get a Job

This is a little sarcastic, I know.  But as I was clearing out my email yesterday, I was hit over and over again with reoccurring themes of “stuck in a rut”, “unable to find a job”, “no one wants to hire me” sob stories.  If any of these shoes fit, get a new pair quickly.  Better yet, share this with people you know, you may even need to highlight the areas they need to fix.not gonna work

As a society (a gross generalization, I know), we are afraid to provide direct feedback to one another.  When you were treated poorly by a store clerk, waitress or work colleague, did you let them know how their actions or words made you feel?  Did you suggest they approach how the deal with people differently?  No? Why not?  It wasn’t your place?  What good would it do?  Unless you do something, you’ll never know if it will work.  This is a plea to help a fellow job seeker by providing them with the honest, maybe even brutal feedback they need.  If they hear you, if you are authentic in your message and its intent, they’ll thank you later.

Stop playing it safe, take some risks.  Let’s make this a better world, OK?!

These are seven descriptions of behavior or missing knowledge I’ve witnessed that prevent people from getting a job, feel free to add yours!

1) You’ve got nothing to say

If you aren’t reading the news and you aren’t up on current events, you have very little to contribute to any conversation.   This is probably the reason why you aren’t getting much from LinkedIn and you think Twitter is a waste of time.  These tools are social.  People are sharing information because they have something to say.  Over simplified, perhaps.  My point is, you have to have “conversational currency” as Keith Ferrazzi calls it.  Read your local newspaper daily, subscribe to industry newsletters and blogs, pick up a book for crying out loud (Have you read any of these?)!  If you are looking for some free online industry newsletters, check out SmartBrief.  If you want to read interested blogs about your industry, try searching AllTop or Technorati.

2) You are waiting for people to get back to you (hand you a job)

I’ll admit, employers aren’t very good at responding to applicants.  Let’s just all agree the process is broken.  You are the job seeker, on a hunt for the job.  No company is handing out jobs to the first person in line (though that would be nice, wouldn’t it?!).  You have to prove you are interested in the job, be persistent, follow up.  One email isn’t enough. One phone call, isn’t what I’m talking about.  Pursue each opportunity until you get some sort of response and ALWAYS ask when you should follow up again.  Take ownership of this hunt.

3) You are an “old fart”

What I mean by this is you are coming across as:

  • Too expensive (your salary expectation are out of wack for today’s job market)
  • Unwilling or unable to adapt and work in a fast paced environment with constantly changing priorities
  • Behind the times (your skills or knowledge are not up to date)

Who created this perception of being a “old fart”? You did.  Change this by making sure that on paper and online you are perceived as contemporary.  Use examples of times you’ve had to adjust and adapt.  Create videos or Slideshare presentations and add them to your LinkedIn profile.  Enroll in training to keep your skills updated. These are some of the obvious solutions.

4) You are a young whipper-snapper

The flip side of being too old is being too inexperienced.  As any new graduate realizes, it is hard to get experience without some prior. This is not new.  The ones who overcome this are the recent graduates who were involved in activities or internships.  These activities provide great hands-on experience, so talk about them.  The other thing young whipper-snappers should realize is that you may need to start at the bottom and work your way up.  Get your foot in the door, gain some real work experience so you’ll have something to build upon.  FYI, starting at the bottom also means a lower salary than you might expect. Heck, we all have to start somewhere.

5) You don’t know how recruiters work

For the last time, recruiters do not find you a job.  They work for the employer.  Don’t expect more from them than they are able to provide.  Here’s a post about the differences between a recruiter, hiring manager and HR:  HR, Recruiters, Hiring Managers…they all have different missions.

6) You haven’t realized this isn’t about you, it is about the employer

If you are still obsessing over what you’ll say about yourself in your elevator pitch and using the same resume and standard cover letter to apply for every job, then you are missing the boat.  No one cares about what you’ve done and where you’ve been. They want to know how you can solve their problems.  Put everything you say and write in terms that will benefit others.  And make it interesting.

7) Your attitude sucks

You’ve met these people.  They complain, criticize and blame others.  They are negative and exude a dark black cloud.  Please, somehow, someway, let them know that their “tude is showing.

The really good news about these seven problems, is that they are all easily fixable. First you have to admit which ones are yours.


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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Christina July 12, 2011, 8:09 am

    Hannah, thank you for being right out there!

    Being a job seeker stinks, but that doesn’t mean that we have to hang out by the manure pile. Get up, be interesting, positive and valuable, and make it possible for an employer to notice you and want you!

    And if you can’t do it on your own, get a buddy, a networking group or a coach to keep steering in the right direction!

    • Hannah Morgan July 14, 2011, 5:28 am


      Keep steering in the right direction or START steering in the right direction. Without a map and without the right attitude, getting “there” is really really difficult.

      Thanks for your comment, and I agree, stay out of the manure pile! LOL!

  • Josh July 12, 2011, 9:25 am

    This is so refreshing! IMO, both points 1 and 2 have a lot in common. The folks who do not have a desire to add value to a conversation, niche, whatever, are the same people who sit back and wait for things to happen for them.

    I don’t know a single employer who hires just to maintain the status quo. They look for people to solve problems, bring innovation, and ADD VALUE!

    Great post, Hannah.

    • Hannah Morgan July 14, 2011, 5:27 am

      In the old days, they use to call those folks who took initiative “A Players”. Today, I think, even more than before, employers have come to expect everyone to be an “A Player”. Times, they are a changin’.

  • Barry Ricketts May 3, 2012, 8:28 am

    Great blog Hannah! Having hired people before I saw each of these examples come by and I did not hire them. I hired the ones with a positive attitude, those that made me feel comfortable in the interview.

    I simply ask myself “would I hire me?” If I wouldn’t, who would?

    • Hannah Morgan May 5, 2012, 5:49 am

      I am so glad you chimed in! Sometimes it is hard to look in the mirror, but it is always worth it!

  • thomas September 14, 2012, 7:27 pm

    this economy sucks and all american companies have outsourced american jobs because their cheap and don’t want to pay taxes and so sending out jobs overseas is their antidote. if american people boycott american companies outsourcing our jobs then these companies will be forced to comply or go out of business.

    • careersherpa September 15, 2012, 5:24 am

      Sorry you feel this way. Complaining “ain’t” going to change the situation.These are hard times, but we better get used to it because I don’t think we’re going back.
      And to be a person of my word… #7 applies to you. Your anger and frustration are showing. If I were an employer reading this, I would think you have the same bad attitude at work, therefore, I wouldn’t hire you. Just sayin.
      Thanks for your comment and the opportunity to provide you with feedback!

  • qnary December 6, 2012, 7:00 pm

    Be sure to have a positive attitude when searching for a job.  Jobs will not be handed out to you, you have to put in the effort to get the job you want.

  • CrankyMuniz February 4, 2013, 5:15 am

    @careersherpaHow about adding:
    #8 – You aren’t a condescending know-it-all like me, who has subsisted on a strict diet of excrement and hot gas for the past 6 years and believes that being able to superficially converse about current events should be considered an asset in your job search.

  • Olivia March 11, 2013, 9:57 pm

    Honestly, it’s all well and good to keep trying and keep reading and learning, but about 50% of college graduates are living at home right now, and to imply that it’s somehow their fault is frankly untrue for many applicants. While I agree with a lot of the points you’ve made here, I can’t help but point out that I know SO MANY talented, eager, bright young kids who were super involved in school, put themselves out there and STILL CANNOT FIND A JOB.
    It’s difficult to maintain a constant perky enthusiasm when you are constantly feeling discouraged and well, are broke and relying on your parents, even as you approach each new opportunity with a positive, excited attitude. Things are different than they were when you applied for jobs. I envy your generation in that way. It’s downright depressing right now. :/  I don’t blame my peers for feeling frustrated.
    A lot of us really are trying our best.

    • careersherpa March 12, 2013, 8:50 am

      Thanks for your viewpoint Olivia!
      Being talented and eager isn’t all that it takes to land a job. Employers are looking for relevant experience (aka internships) and most colleges don’t require this, which is a shame.
      For all your friends who are at home and feeling down and out, tell them to volunteer with professional organizations in their field of interest and take ANY job they can get their hands on. Some experience is better than none. Some money is better than none. The tides will turn eventually.
      I am a Gen X and when I graduated we were in the midst of the 1988 recession, just an FYI. No companies were coming to recruit from campus and most of my friends didn’t have jobs when they graduated either.
      I’d be happy to help if you let me know what type of work you or your friends are looking for, I can provide some specific recommendations!

  • cory April 30, 2013, 5:19 pm

    I have recently graduated from an electrical program at a college. I have 7 years experience as a welder and had two employers tell me that they would hire me back anytime. But now I am having a hard time finding full time job in my new field. Employers are seeking people with 3-5 years experience, however, the trades are hurting for workers (apparently) and need to replace the people who are retiring. How can employers expect to get new people in the field when no one wants to train? even a person who has proven himself in another trade is still having a hard time.

    • careersherpa May 9, 2013, 10:52 am

      @cory Cory, check with the college that you got your degree from. Check with professors and ask who they know you can talk to. It may not seem like it, but companies do hire people without experience. 
      Avoid just focusing on job postings. Approach companies you know that need electricians (who doesn’t!) and introduce yourself! 
      Please don’t get discouraged!

    • Over30 May 9, 2013, 12:38 pm

      @cory I think this woman is rather out of her depth

  • Over30 May 9, 2013, 10:24 am

    Erm wrong wrong and wrong again
    I’ve been out of work 18 months, have done the very obvious things of adapting my CV, checking through it with other people.. I’ve thought outside the box.. tried other areas from admin to retail and so forth.. sending my CVs into various employment agencies.. and yet not one interview..
    My problem being – I am an ex-curator.. I’ve lots of experience that is relevent dating back to my teen years (working as a secretary) but somehow when reading that I have worked in a national museum that I can’t possibly want a job that pays this little.. erm actually I do

    • careersherpa May 9, 2013, 10:57 am

      Over30 Thanks for sharing your story! Recent experience trumps relevant experience unfortunately. 
      If you continue to play the job posting game, I have a hunch you’ll be frustrated. Focus in on a job or type of job you are interested in, then share that very specific information with everyone you know! 
      People have to really understand your story before they are ready to hire you. You have to help them understand why you are looking for this new opportunity and why you are a great fit and how you are looking forward to it and where it fits into your long term plan. Otherwise, why would they take the risk?
      I appreciate your comment!

      • Over30 May 9, 2013, 12:03 pm

        Your comments to be honest are rather repetitive and lack relevance or use.. These days you have to widen your search area and indeed the jobcentre asks for this.
        Recent experience – well it’s a catch 22 situation
        I have tailored my applications carefully to pre-requisites of each employer (from the time I was last in employment). Employers do not ask for the sob story/background..
        I have furthermore applied for every applicable curatorial post..
        I have to question your knowledge and experience in dealing with with unemployment at large

        • Over30 May 9, 2013, 12:36 pm

          Ahh..and being american you have very little clue of the UK economy/situation

        • careersherpa May 10, 2013, 6:39 am

          Sorry you don’t see the relevance or use in my suggestions. I have shared your conundrum with a larger audience in the hope that others with greater expertise or additional suggestions may be of help.
          While you have been tailoring the materials you submit carefully, for some reason, the screener/hiring entity is not seeing you as a viable candidate, otherwise you would be getting calls. Without seeing the posting and your tailored materials, it is difficult to assess where the disconnect might be. 
          Do you look at your materials through the eyes of the employer? 
          Do you include the same critical key words from the posting in your application and resume?
          Do you include only the most relevant skills for the position?
          Have you asked anyone else to evaluate your submissions against the post? 
          Hopefully we’ll see some others chime in with their thoughts.

  • Stephanie Green May 19, 2013, 1:35 am

    Well I actually have known many employers who hate Facebook and all that but anyways…I think a VAST majority of why people can’t find jobs is because businesses are way too picky. They have tons of applicants applying for 1 megar lousy barely support yourself on position. And to top it off they want you to sit there and say why your such a great fit for it …look everyone wants work …so they can live …SO THEY CAN LIVE ! THIS ISN’T A GAME … Good honest individuals are not being hired for some stupid idiotic reason or another and are being judged by probably some of the most narrowminded idiots in society. People who hire don’t care about whose sitting on the other side at all. Companys don’t care about the people who are the business and who run it …there’s no respect at all ….that’s the problem.

    • Over30 May 21, 2013, 8:55 am


  • RayHasto May 26, 2013, 7:25 am

    Hanna, looks like a bunch of responders decided to strap on their pointy-toe boots. Not me. Your points are well stated and right on the money. Locating a good job has been much more difficult over the last 5 years than years prior. Relative to a few responders’ point about “unrealistic expectations”, I have read job posts which are down right foolish. Request for skills and experience being such a combination of “left brain-right brain, we’d like a plumber with 25 years of industrial experience who also has a double major in socio-economics and brain surgery, going rate $12/hr”. (hmmm, OK might have been $15)
    However, to your point, for the employer IT’S ALL ABOUT THE EMPLOYER. Why wouldn’t it be, it THEIR business! A necessary game has to be played. The job seeker must understand this game to go to the next level. The job seeker must also asses his position as a “vehicle” or a “destination”. We are in charge of our own lives and I for one, live to drive.

    • careersherpa May 28, 2013, 5:07 am

      RayHasto Thanks for your support Ray! We’ve all seen those crazy job descriptions, asking for the absurd combos and most don’t even list the salary (don’t get me started on that!) 
      Of course it is all about the employer! The sooner job seekers understand, embrace and work this, the sooner they’ll start landing jobs! (Kinda NLP-ish!)

  • wtfismattt June 9, 2013, 3:36 am

    or have a criminal history