Why job hunting isn't fair

Looking for your next job can be a harrowing experience.

Yes, the daily grind of sending out resumes, cover letters, networking, all the day-to-day operations can test your professionalism on a daily basis, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

What we’re discussing here are some of life’s most raw examples of why life isn’t fair. Job seekers, especially those who interview, can witness some appalling behavior and, unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to avoid it.

What I can tell you, though, is that it’s not your fault. This behavior is experienced by people applying for jobs at all levels of the corporate ladder.

It isn’t you. It’s them. 100% them.

Last week, I was working with a client named Taylor. He’s an intelligent, motivated guy with an impressive bundle of successes for someone this early in his career. Taylor emailed me to tell me that he just left an interview, and he knew as soon as he walked in the door that they weren’t interested. Two people asked him questions, not including the hiring manager, and he was back in his car within 20 minutes.

What I told him was the truth; that he was probably right in thinking they weren’t interested in hiring him.

I also told him that it wasn’t his fault, he probably didn’t do anything wrong, and that’s ok. Many times companies want a certain number of applicants for a given job, say five applicants. Looking at the resumes, they know they’re only really interested in two, maybe three people, but they have to call in five, so they call in a couple more to fill out their dance card.

Yes, it’s a rotten thing to do. Taylor spent plenty of time preparing and took time out of his day for the interview. Yes, it happens all the time. No, that says nothing about your worth as a candidate or your chances of landing a job sometime. It just happened.

Here are some other common scenarios that are simply part of the dysfunctional way corporations hire employees, and the possible motivations behind their dysfunctional behavior:

“We just wanted to see what was out there” – Sometimes companies will call in applicants for a job they have no intention of filling in hopes that some prince or princess is going to walk into their door and solve all their problems, which isn’t going to happen. These companies are ‘shopping’ for people, and obviously have too much free time on their hands.

No contact after an interview – I’ve had clients spend hours in interviews and get no notification whatsoever that they’ve been passed by. None. Crickets. Even after follow-up contact. Either the HR department, or the hiring manager, felt they were too busy to at least send out a form letter letting people know. Again, very unprofessional.

You have a great phone screen, and don’t get called in for an interview – As a job applicant, appreciate the pre-interview phone screen. It allows the company to learn some important information about you while minimizing inconvenience to you. Sounds great! But, just because you felt the phone screen was successful, that doesn’t mean you’ll get the interview. As stated, the phone screen is to learn more about you. The results were probably presented to the hiring manager, and that manager made the call on who to bring in for an interview.


Looking for your next job “ain’t all sunshine and rainbows,” to paraphrase Rocky Balboa. It’s a fight, and it’s a fight worth fighting. You’re doing the right thing. Sometimes you get hit and you need to get back up and keep working at it.

Come to think of it, I’ll let Rocky finish this blog post out…

“You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!”

Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa


Also see:

Explaining a gap in your resume

Research the employer BEFORE you interview