I was not hired, and I love it

I was not hired, and I love it


I want to share a wonderful story about how I didn’t get a job.

I interviewed and was not hired. Although the job was through a recruiter and my first interview was with a personnel clerk, at the end of the interview the hiring manager himself gave me his decision that I wasn’t right for the job. He said it was a difficult decision, but he was impressed with my qualifications and asked if I wanted to be considered for future openings.

not hiredHe also volunteered to help me in my job search with his industry contacts! He told me to wait while he called two managers he knows in other companies and suggested they should meet me! At first I thought, how insane, but then I realized how smart it is! This is a very busy person who travels non-stop and has all of the same reasons that everyone else has for not following up with people. Yet he made the time for me.

In my whole life, this has never happened when I did not get hired. I think the benefits of an employer handling a situation like this are tremendous. Would I send him business if I had the opportunity? Would I recommend this company to other people? Of course!

I hope other employers read this and act accordingly. You have everything to gain by being direct and honest with people who have invested time with you and your company regardless of the outcome. It can be good for you to help a candidate you did not hire to get hired elsewhere.

To everyone who did not get hired for a job, I hope someday you get treated like this. Simple decency and respect go a long way. It changes everything!

Nick’s Reply

Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s important to note what really happened here, what did not happen, and why you’re happy even after you were not hired.

First, the manager took personal responsibility for notifying you of his decision. He showed unusual character and integrity. That’s why you’d recommend his company to others.

Second, the manager has acknowledged your value to his professional community. He didn’t hire you, but he didn’t reject you. He offered you the professional courtesy of introductions to his peers. Everyone benefits. Recommending good people strengthens the entire professional community.

Finally, he treated you respectfully. Your joy makes you likely to recommend people for jobs there — and you may apply again yourself. You’re happy because even though the manager didn’t hire you, he’s aiding your career. How often does that happen?

If I were you I’d send this manager a note acknowledging his kindness and largesse. Whether or not one of his buddies hires you, I would stay in touch from time to time. Let’s encourage high standards!

A note to managers: The next time you interview a job candidate, remember that the manager in this story is your competition. Are you as good as that?

And now I rap employers for stupidity

What happened to this job seeker may seem a bit off the wall. But consider how stupid it is for employers to invest loads of money and time recruiting impressive candidates only to dismiss them without another thought just because they didn’t hire them. Where’s the ROI in that? What a waste of talent, not to mention the hiring manager’s time and other company resources!

This is a big reason why the Employment System is so broken. There is no reason to waste good candidates! The manager profited from this “no hire” by building good will all around — with this good candidate, with the other managers he referred the person to, and by showing that his company doesn’t waste talent or valuable new personal relationships! The candidate might even return for another job, having had such a good experience — even if no hire was made the first time.

Cultivating talented people in your company’s professional community that hold you in high regard should always be a top business objective. Because It’s the people, Stupid.

Have you ever been treated this way after you were not hired? The manager’s behavior is certainly an anomaly. What might make other managers adopt this manager’s practices? Can you think of two or three ways an employer could encourage its managers to behave this way? In what ways could it pay off?

: :

“We can’t proceed with your job candidacy.” WTF?

“We can’t proceed with your job candidacy.” WTF?


I am a member of the long-term unemployed and need the benefit of your experience. I stopped tracking the number of jobs I’ve applied for. (It’s in the high hundreds.) The few interviews that I have been selected for have failed to progress past the phone screen stage. The interviewers have been unwelcoming and downright unprofessional. I grade myself pretty hard, but I have gone into these phone screens confidently and with a positive, cooperative attitude. I adapt quickly to the interview style and I’m less nervous than I used to be, and I have a strong command of subject matter.

job candidacyMy most recent opportunity left me with the impression that I would be invited for a site visit. But after a full 30 minutes of discussion on the phone, they e-mailed me that my job candidacy “will not proceed.” I have a nagging feeling that they don’t really know why.

Anyway, I am running long and my intent is not to burden your time. I hope you can share your thoughts. How do they decide I “will not proceed?” What does that even mean?

Nick’s Reply

Job seekers rarely “proceed” past an employer’s screening because they don’t know you and you don’t know them.

What do you really know about your job candidacy?

Please think about this. When you search for jobs in online databases (Indeed, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, a company’s own “career pages”), all you know about “an opportunity” is that the job has a title, a description and a bunch of keywords. So what do you know about your job candidacy?

Software determined that your keywords earn you a screening — by phone, online form, video or otherwise. That’s all you know about anything. It came in over the transom. What made you believe it was a good match?

What does the employer really know about you?

Without any respect to the “intelligent algorithms,” because they don’t deserve it, the employer really knows nothing about you. That company didn’t come looking for you because you are a good candidate for the job. You’re just a database record.

The company knows nothing about your abilities, motivations, integrity, performance, successes, failures, aspirations, interests, or likelihood that you’d be a profitable hire. It knows nothing about how respected you are in your industry, whether you can ride a fast learning curve, or whether you perform best verbally in person, on the phone, or via video. It has no idea whether anyone in your field would actually recommend you because you can actually do the job.

You know really nothing about the job. Even if you recognize the name and research it, it’s not an employer you chose and pursued with great intent. It’s something that dropped into your lap thanks to a database “search.” If you’re honest with yourself (and here I mean anyone, not just you), you’re applying simply because you can.

The employment databases are so HUGE!

Human beings need to see some kind of connection, a trusted mutual friend or associate that brings them together. We like to see that we have something in common, that we have shared experiences by which to justify further discussion about working together.

The system that dominates employment today offers none of that. So it’s no surprise that virtually all “opportunities” you encounter online turn out worthless. The online jobs world is not fertile ground on which to spread your credentials. It’s a huge arid desert that impresses people because… it’s so huge! As if that’s a benefit!

Nobody needs access to 10,000 jobs or 20,000 candidates to fill a job! A company needs four or five good candidates. The same goes for the job seeker. More is not better. The dirty little secret is that this desert doesn’t produce many good hires.

This system is pretending to be an “intelligent agent” that uses “semantic algorithms” to initiate your job candidacy. But it cannot tell the difference between you and the next 50 candidates it selects for screenings. All 50 of you “qualify,” but — WTF? — after the screening no one can explain to you why you can’t “proceed.”

“I know William”

So how do people and jobs get together? Through mutual contacts, through professional associations and industry events, via customers and vendors and consultants and other trusted connections who can supply this basic element that’s crucial when matching a person to a job and a company:

“I know William. He’s great at doing X. You really ought to talk with him before one of your competitors snatches him up.”

Wouldn’t you love to be the name on that referrer’s lips? If you want a real chance at a good job, you have to be.

Trust your nagging feeling

There is nothing wrong with you. Your judgments are sound: those screenings are unprofessional and unwelcoming. Your sense that you’re not being judged properly – you’re absolutely correct about all of it.

Stop doing what you’re told by “the employment system.” Start doing the kinds of things to find a job that you’d do in the normal course of doing your job. Define your objective, do your homework. Plan who you need to meet and talk to that can help you. Figure out what problems and challenges an employer faces. Map your abilities onto those – and share with the people you meet how you’d do the job. They will tell you whom to talk with next.


WTF indeed. Good question. The answer is right in front of us: Big Marketing by Big Job Boards tells us hiring and looking for work are now totally automated, totally intelligent, and easy! And that’s a lie.

This is all a lot of work. But, so’s that good job you want. Don’t trust your search to databases and automatons. Diddling your keyboard and talking to screeners who don’t know you from their left foot doesn’t work. So do the work.

Make friends and focus on talking shop with people who do the work you want to do at the company where you want to do it.

Make sense? You can’t get the good job you want by crafting keywords and applying for jobs whose keywords match yours. You can’t “proceed” when they don’t know you and you don’t know them.

What do you think they’re really doing behind the wizard’s curtain when they tell you “We can’t proceed with your job candidacy”? How do they decide, when they don’t really know you? What did you really know about them when you applied? How do people and jobs really get matched? How should they? Looking back at the last time you were told “We can’t proceed,” what do you think really happened?

: :

I took the wrong job. What now?

I took the wrong job. What now?


I just started a new job that might be the wrong job. My new employer lured me away from a very good job at a very good company, and moved me to a new city. I have been at the new job for one month and am beginning to see a not-so-pretty picture of what my job actually entails, compared to what was originally sold to me during the interviewing process.

I have a strong feeling that things will not improve. I want it to work out, and I have spoken to my supervisor, but I honestly do not think anything will change. What is the best route to take here? Should I speak with the recruiter who sold me on the job? (This is a full-time position, not a contract.) What did I do wrong? Thanks!

Nick’s Reply

wrong-jobYou’re on board now. Given that you relocated, there’s no easy way to turn back, unless you want to move back to your old company, and they’re willing to have you. That’s doubtful. Let’s discuss what to do now, then we’ll explore why this may have happened and how to avoid a repeat!

Did recruiter deliver the wrong job?

You should indeed speak to the recruiter, who might be able to serve as your advocate with the employer. I’d do this right now—the sooner, the better.

In most cases, the recruiter’s fee is contingent on you staying at the job for some period of time (90 days is common). So, the recruiter will have more than a passing interest in helping you work this out.

But let’s hope the recruiter didn’t deliver a wrong job.

Can you and your boss “right” a wrong job?

You should also continue to work with your manager to turn things around. It may take time, and you need to be very positive in the way you present this on an ongoing basis. You need to convey your interest in doing your work in the way that will be best for the company, and that “the way” is what you agreed to from the beginning. Don’t start with recriminations—that won’t help at this point. Approach it as a partner, because that’s what you are. Try to set the wrong job right.

This might mean your boss alters your job now, or agrees to change your work in the near future.

How to avoid taking a wrong job

The traditional recruiting and hiring process too often neglects the very issues that may have put you in the spot you’re in.

In the end, if the only real solution is to move on, you’ll know it. Remember that the purpose of a job search is not to “get a job”. The purpose is to win the right job. The best way to avoid situations like this is to address these questions before accepting a job:

  1. Has the work been clearly defined? Do you truly understand it? By the time HR gets done chewing up a job description and spitting out the job posting that lured you, you may be interviewing for a job even the hiring manager doesn’t recognize. So, discuss the wording of the job posting with the boss. This is best done in the interview, but it’s very important to review it together now.
  2. Can you do the work they want done? The only way to determine this for sure is to demonstrate your abilities in the interview, so they can see how you will approach the work. This also gives you the all-important opportunity to see what they really mean by “the work.” This may be why you’ve been taken by surprise — and why you’re in the wrong job.
  3. Can you do the work the way they want it done? Clearly, there’s a disconnect here, and you and they are not “matching.” Again, this needs to be covered during the due diligence phase of the interview process. It’s as much your responsibility as the employer’s.
  4. Can you do the work profitably, for you and for the employer? I doubt this ever got discussed, and it has likely contributed to the misunderstanding. If you had raised this issue and discovered what really matters to the employer, you may not have taken this job.

When these questions are not clearly and honestly addressed in the recruiting, interview and hiring process, people can land in the wrong job and wind up job hunting again very soon.

I hope you can work this out. Don’t assume yet that you took the wrong job. First, make sure you are doing a good job, then find out where this job leads. If you really took the wrong job, the sooner you move on, the better. (I won’t get into this here, but if you need to move on, please see Parting Company: How to leave your job.)

Never take a job unless you’ve addressed the questions above. Never hire anyone unless these questions have been addressed.

Have you ever taken a wrong job? What led up to the mistake? Were you at fault or was the employer? Should this reader even try to work it out with the boss, or just quit? What other methods should the reader try to get this resolved?

: :