Working Wounded: Why Can't You Get Hired?

ByABC News
December 14, 2006, 5:03 PM

Dec. 8, 2006 — -- DEAR WOUNDED: I just keep striking out in my job search. I get interviews, but then nothing. Is there something wrong with me?

ANSWER: Your e-mail reminded me of Ptolemy, the Greek mathematician, geographer, astronomer and astrologer. He was born in 90 A.D. and was a key proponent of a solar system where the Earth was at the center of the universe and the sun and other planets revolved around it.

Like Ptolemy, most job seekers think that the entire job search revolves around them. In fact, there are often many reasons why someone doesn't get the job that have nothing to do with experience, skills or ability. Below, I've listed some of the ways that the hiring process can go sideways for a job seeker. For more insight on your job search, check out "The Elements of Resume Style" by Scott Bennett (Amacom, 2005).

Is the organization listing a job that has already been filled? It sounds dumb, but sometimes corporate policies or regulations require a company to advertise a position that is no longer available. It happens. This is a classic reason why you don't get the job, but it's not the only one. Here are a few more:

Is it just a headhunter trolling for resumes? A not-so-well-kept secret in the headhunting business is that there are unscrupulous headhunters out there who run fake ads just to collect resumes. Needless to say, if you respond to one of these ads, there will be no job waiting for you.

Is there just too much going on at the company? Has a project you were working on ever been delayed because of a reorganization, budget cut or layoff? Throw in a hiring freeze and there are many reasons the hiring process can move like molasses. It seems obvious that once a company starts looking for an employee, they should carry it to fruition. Logic, however, sometimes gets lost in the workplace.

Is the company simply inefficient? Some companies are like the movie "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight." There's nothing that this kind of company doesn't turn into a laborious, time-consuming and energy-draining ordeal.

Are there more qualified applicants than you realized? "Ringer" is sports terminology for a really good player who suddenly shows up out of nowhere. And sometimes that can happen for a job opening -- a ridiculously qualified candidate sneaks past everyone to get the job.

Is the company being rude? Unfortunately, it's rare that a company takes the time to notify job applicants when a position has already been filled. I've argued in the past that I don't think it's too much to ask to send applicants an e-mail or postcard. Sadly, I think I'm in the minority here.

Sometimes the planets just don't align for a particular position. That's why it's so important that you don't get too bummed out if you don't get the job.

Here are the results from a recent online ballot:

Working Wounded/ online ballot question: What has been the most successful when you've looked for work?

  • Information interviews, 0 percent
  • Want ads, 16.6 percent
  • Networking, 41.6 percent
  • Nothing, 41.6 percent

Our winning strategy for getting a job comes from R.C. in Toronto, Ontario:

"Most people don't understand how to network. It isn't just about contacting all your friends or people at parties. It's talking to people who've worked with you who know what you can do. These are the people that you want to get on your side, because they can vouch for what you can do once you are hired."

Absent the truth -- 32 percent of us have lied and said we were sick when we weren't

  • 48 percent said they needed to relax
  • 24 percent wanted to catch up on sleep
  • 20 percent needed to run errands
  • 17 percent had a doctor's appointment
  • 16 percent had plans with friends or family or housework


Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, speaker, and internationally syndicated columnist. His newest bestseller, "Gray Matters: The Workplace Survival Guide" (Wiley, 2004), is a business comic book that trades cynicism for solutions. Ask Bob a question: or publishes a new Working Wounded column every Friday.This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.