Could This be Why You Aren't Finding a Job?

Nancy Anderson
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If you're a frustrated job seeker who's working hard to do everything right, you might be sabotaging your chances of landing a job. Anthropologist Ilana Gershon took a critical look at hiring practices and found that advice given to job seekers often didn't mesh up with the reality of getting a great job. Take a look at these reasons you may not be getting hired to help you improve your chances of success.

Focusing on the Wrong Areas

Gershon found that workshops for the unemployed often focused on personal branding through social media and creating the perfect modern resume. In reality, most companies don't care about personal branding; they just want someone who is proficient in their work. Although having a professional social media account and a good resume are important, they are not the keys to getting a great job. Likewise, extending your personal network with new contacts is not an essential element when it comes to finding a great position. Job seekers are better off spending their time renewing workplace relationships from the past with people who are willing to offer assistance and able to vouch for their abilities.

Not Trusting Yourself

Older workers in particular are often advised to forget everything they know about looking for a job. The truth is that older workers typically have a wealth of information and wisdom from years of work experience to help them succeed during a job search. If you are newly unemployed, always check advice you receive against your own personal knowledge and experience. Although it is important to update your resume and follow best practices regarding cover letters, your knowledge of what companies value and how the hiring process plays out are valuable assets that can help you get hired.

Following Standardized Advice

One of the biggest problems Gershon found was that much of the advice given to unemployed workers was so general that it did not apply to many job seekers. Each industry has its own ways of hiring, and these practices vary by company. If you are a job seeker looking for work in the same field you have previously worked in, your own knowledge of hiring practices is more likely to help you than more general advice. If you hope to move into a new field, you are best off doing your own research into how specific companies in that industry hire new employees.

If your job search seems to be never-ending, take a step back, and then reevaluate your actions before moving forward. It's best to spend less time on developing the perfect resume and more time on renewing workplace contacts and learning about the hiring practices in your industry. Job seekers with great past workplace contacts who are ready to share their strengths have the best chances of getting hired.

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    It is true, age has a lot to do with it. I am going through Staffing Agencies as well and have been looking for eight months. I am over 60, with a lot of experience in the work field. I do not have a college degree, but a High School degree. Have had no luck. Does anyone know of anyone who is seeking an Administrative Assistant/Receptionist position? I do rely on public transportation to commute. Preferably, looking in downtown, Boston, MA.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Sandy C thanks for your comment. It is true that companies seem to get bogged down with the educational aspects of a candidate. They feel that, if a candidate doesn't have the requisite education, move on to the next. The sad truth is that you probably will never need to use most of what you learned anyhow. But companies feel that a college graduate will bring more to the table which is why they focus on that. Don't blame you for feeling that it's their loss. Back in the old days, you didn't even need a HS diploma as long as you could do the job. Today, they want bachelors and master's degrees to do the same type of job that our parents did with a HS diploma. Before you go on your next interview, or even apply for a position, make sure you are doing your due diligence. Check the company out. Peek into it and see if you can find out anything about some of the folks working in your area of expertise. See if you can find out if any of them have higher educational degrees. Then you will know if you really want to take the time to even apply. And remember, if you know someone within the company of interest, contact them and see if they will submit you. I know I will hear about this but it's true - it's not what you know but who you know. All the best.

  • Sandy C.
    Sandy C.

    I am also in the 60 age range and am having a hard time getting a job after being laid off after 13 years at my last job. I do not have a degree but I have years of experience and references that will back me up. A lot of employers don't seem to care from the get-go. If you don't have a degree, they won't even look at your resume. Their loss. I am and have always been a dedicated and loyal, hard working employee.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Diane L that is certainly true. Years ago, the big thing was that you needed a high school education to get a decent job. As the years have gone by, that requirement has been upped to at least a bachelor's degree - even for the simplest of jobs - up to and exceeding a master's degree. Not sure how a master's degree can help out with many of the job postings. It seems as though companies are making it more difficult to get your foot in the door. And it's sad, too, because companies are missing out on great potential employees by being ridiculous when it comes to educational requirements. @Michael R thanks for your comment. I, too, am in the category and I know that there are jobs out there for us more senior job seekers. If it were me, I would go through an agency. That way I can sit down with the recruiter - face to face. By doing this, ageism is not a blatant factor. The recruiter already knows what the company will/will not accept as far as potential employees and won't send you out for jobs in which the company has specifics on age requirements. Of course they can't actually come out and say - we don't want Michael because he's over 60. They will just say that another candidate was better suited for the position. Try out a recruiter and see how it goes. Anyone else experiencing what @Michael R and @Diane L are experiencing? What are you doing about it?


    Being over 60 hurts my chances of getting a job. Employers won't admit it but age is a factor. I am fully qualified at many jobs I have applied at, but I have to compete with those younger applicants. Anyone know if a job site for people over 60?

  • Diane L.
    Diane L.

    Not only age, but now it seems even "simple" jobs require some sort of degree.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Debra D thanks for your comment. So true. But I have to say that it doesn't make any sense. By keeping those of us who are over 40 out of positions, these companies are losing a lot of talent and experience!!!!

  • Debra D.
    Debra D.

    I believe age has a lot to do with it, if your over 40, 50 +


    maybe you are just a non- accomplisher

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