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Why other people are getting jobs and you're not

Why you are an ugly duckling

Gore Vidal famously said that, 'whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.' Much the same might be said when a friend - or ex-colleague - finds a new job and you don't, especially if you've had the misfortune to be out of the market for a long time (or maybe just out of the market for anything more than 50 days).

However, rather than sitting around and feeling bitter and twisted it might be worth giving some thought to why other people seem to be so much more successful than you at segueing into new roles. There are usually good reasons for these things, after all. Persistent failure to penetrate the job market is usually because...

You're not going straight to the source

It's just a thought, but maybe you're not getting a job because you're piffling about on the outside, hoping that people who aren't really in any position to hire will take you on?

"You won't get a job if you're not approaching the point of purchase," said Michael Moran, founder and chief executive at career coaching firm 10Eighty. "Maybe you're using agencies or headhunters, or putting cold calls into HR departments. Instead, you need to identify the person with the power to hire and get an introduction through someone who knows them.

"Most people abdicate responsibility for their job search to a third party," adds Moran. "That's a mistake."

You've neglected your career for years and they haven't 

Maybe all those other people are getting jobs because they've been secretly working at their network for years while you've been going home after work and watching box sets?

"You need to plan your career," says Moran. "If you're laid off, you can't expect to suddenly find a ready-made network. You need to invest time in building your network while you're still working."

The people who do invest in their career whilst they're still employed stand out like a sore thumb when they're laid off, said Moran: "It's like they started the race before everyone else."

You're holding back 

Maybe the people who are getting jobs are more charming than you, and more willing to ask for favours.

The people who get jobs are prepared to dig deep into their networks, said David Schwartz of New York based search firm D.N. Schwartz & Co, and a former recruiter for Goldman Sachs. If you're not getting a job and other people are, you need to dig deeper. "Maybe you're afraid of reaching out to people you haven't been in contact with for a while," said Schwartz.

Even if you've neglected your network, try to overcome your reticence and 'reach out'. Often, Schwartz said people will be pleased to hear from you.

You're unlucky 

Ok, so maybe there's not a good reason why you're not getting hired - maybe you're just unlucky. "Sometimes one person's network knows of an opening, while another person's isn't aware of it," said Schwartz. "At one level it's the luck of the draw."

Actually, other people aren't getting jobs - you're just imagining it 

Finally, maybe you just think other people are getting jobs. A proportion of the population are 'realists' (read pessimists) said Rob Yeung, a psychologist at leadership consultancy Talentspace. They will always think that other people are having an easier time than them. Actually, this may not be the case at all. In London at least, very few experienced bankers are getting hired right now.

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • ba
    15 May 2013

    I can speak firsthand of 'unemployed need not apply' in the investment banking sector in NY and the States, in addition to the frequent comments of "you're too 'stale', you've been out of the market for too long". In 2010, a friend forwarded me an email from a recruiting firm that had been hired by one of the top investment banks to fill a position -- I would have been a perfect candidate -- the recruiter made the mistake of putting in writing (email) that the firm was 'only looking at currently employed bankers'....In the U.S. the EEOC looked into this issue of discriminating against unemployed people (I will just say that the two events were related and leave it at that). It is now illegal for an employer to STATE that they are only willing to hire employed people but they easily get around that.

    As it relates to the 'being stale' matter -- unfortunately there's nothing illegal about it, it is simply banks being very short-sighted in their thinking.. i.e. 'well this person hasn't executed a transaction in 2/3 years, he has no idea how the market has changed or how terms have evolved' - horsesht - I have kept more up to date on the market than many of my friends and colleagues who are IN the industry now (since they tend to put their head down to focus on specific deals they are working on) -- its a sad state of affairs when a bank like Citigroup, which would not exist today had it not been for a $300+ billion taxpayer bailout, refuses to hire unemployed/out-of-work finance professionals because, in their estimation, such individuals are no longer qualified.....who are they to stand on a pedestal and preach about qualifications?!...oh well

  • St
    St.Markus (Germany)
    15 May 2013

    I fully agree with jesh. It is one step away from corruption. But the most severe thing is that there will be a bias over time because people hiring people they know will make the same mistakes again and again. Just a few days ago, there was such a case on government level in Bavaria... so even Germany has to face the facts.

    But jesh is right: the brixit will be the worst thing at all and would complete the number (and geographic position) of countries to fail surrounding the EU.

  • je
    14 May 2013

    i had to choose either my health as i was working as manager for 16 h/d [including often weekends] and wound up in hospital on observation with BP 220/170 and i'm not even 40 to be in risk group !!!
    or be on mercy of employers now sending out many apps a week, the thing is - financial sector is squeezing people unbelievably, despite the fact that there were so many lay offs...

    it is irrelevant now if you have qualifications or not, it is what "networking" you have and who can put you on the top of the list when they made all interviews [is of course you made it to that stage], that's only thing today, who makes decision and if that someone is the one who set up you for the role, wink wink notch notch...

    UK is becoming like other countries in eastern Europe when not experience, not qualification or education matters - it matters who you know inside the organisation who can puss you thru... its one step away from corruption and protection or "clientelism" like in ancient Rome, and if someone forgot what happened with the Rome short reminder it is ancient and does not exist...

    if people in uk will decide to make brixit from EU it will be even worse, cos Germany will make everything with France to side-track the City from European financial markets to move it all to Frankfurt, and with those 100K jobs slashed ? well you do the maths...

  • Al
    Alternative Career
    14 May 2013

    I left my job voluntarily as I am very pessimistic about the prospects of investment banking in general. an industry that has historically generated close to 3-5% of GDP has suddenly grown to generate 10-15% of GDP in it's respective countries. This is not sustainable and a reversion to the mean is imminent, implying large scale permanent redundancies. Jump ship and find another vocation while you still can.

  • Fr
    Frank C
    14 May 2013

    I agree with robju to a point. My CV has too been kept up to date, network has been growing on a regular basis and I am awash with positive feedback but my age is not shown on any of my records.

    The number of times I have come across employers placing job advertisements to 'test the market' before hiring internally is remarkable.

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