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Looking for a job is the absolute worst. The people giving the jobs have to do everything they can to be efficient, while the people who want the jobs (and aren't being paid to apply for them) need to do so much work to try and convince the other person that they're worth hiring. It's a huge power imbalance, but there's no other way for it to work (as far as I can tell, anyway.)

Rejection is super awful and every time I've applied for a job and not gotten an interview I felt terrible. Every time I got an interview and didn't get the job, I felt even worse. But when you find the right position, it can be really wonderful. Let's be honest about the actual situation, which is that not getting a job has no bearing on your worth as a person, and it's completely possible, likely even, that the company ended up hiring the wrong person.

But they have limited resources and had to make a call. They would've been lucky to have you!! AND SO WOULD THAT GUY AT THAT NON PROFIT WHO MADE FUN OF MY APPLICATION!

Vezitos Animation of Katherine and I

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Good morning, John.

I'm gonna tell you a super embarrassing story about myself.

When I was right out of college, I applied for a job at the non-profit where Katherine, my wife now, was working and I didn't get an interview. Then I went to go visit her. This is kind of a weird situation. There were a lot of people who lived on location at the job, and I was there visiting. Katherine was working and I was sort of, like, bumbling around, and two of the people who worked there, who I have met before, are talking about the worst job application they've ever received. And one of them starts talking about this terrible cover letter that he recently read. He's a couple years older than me, which at this point seems like infinitely my superior. He's tall. He's tan. He's handsome. He's fit. And he is going into a lot of detail and it is becoming very clear that it's my cover letter. So, I just stand there and listen to it, and suddenly I'm feeling like I'm in the job interview that I was hoping to get, except instead of them asking me questions, they're just telling me all of the reasons why they didn't even want to talk to me. I'm obviously not gonna tell him what's going on...

It was one of the finest humiliations of my life. He had no way of knowing it was me, so I didn't see it as a cruelty. I was just hearing his very raw, unfiltered, somewhat mean dissection of my cover letter, and he went- he went in a lot of detail. But also, no one ever tells you why you didn't get the job. You might hear like, "We had a huge number of qualified applicants," and that's true, as a person who hires people, that is often the case, but the real reason like the moment when we were like "Eh, let's not put that one in the interview pile," you just don't get told and there's two reasons of that.

One is because sometimes it's dumb and sometimes, like, you just- you have a lot of application to go through and you don't have a lot of time to do it, and so you're making quick subjective decisions that might not be the right ones but you have to make a call. And two, providing that detailed feedback to every single person who applied would be a huge amount of work and managers have other work to do. So, despite the first that this was one of the cringiest moments of my life, I think I actually came out a little bit on top, especially after Katherine told me that he was a jerk and she didn't like him, so much so that she would actually sneak into the kitchen sometimes and squeeze his pears just a little bit. If you listen to Dear Hank and John, you've heard this story before.

So, at least, I didn't have to be afraid of the guy stealing my girlfriend. Maybe we don't talk enough about why people don't get a job and maybe we should talk about it more. So I asked on Twitter, "People who have hired people, what are some unexpected ways a candidate has disqualified themselves from / decreased their odds of getting a position they applied for?" and then I made an Ask-Reddit post with the same question and have gotten a lot of good and interesting replies. 

John, the most common one is people who are rude to, like, office staff or assistant before they meet the interviewers, like, "Why?" And then there was a post from a guy who kept not getting callbacks over and over again, and he was getting really discouraged until he realized that his Gmail profile picture was him doing a bong rip, and similarly a lot of the hirers talked about how people put, like, 'lazy procrastinator' in their social media bios. Pause the self-deprecating Twitter bios during the job hunt, y'all! Then you've got people not hiring someone because their handwriting is bad, like, I'm sorry, is this a calligraphy job? It's 2018! This is what computers are for. And one person didn't hire somebody, because they said their favorite movie was Bridge to Terebithia! It's got 85% on Rotten Tomatoes! It's okay for somebody to like a movie you didn't like! 

I feel like these threads are really helpful to read if you're a person who might be or is looking for work. They show me two things, one is that the job of the applicant is to make it very easy for the person doing the hiring to make the call. Give them lots of signals that you understand the problem they need you to help solve and will be good at solving it and will do so happily. And second, it becomes very clear that you aren't figuring out how to get the job, you're figuring out how to increase your chances of getting the job, because the dumbest little thing can be the thing that gets your application put in the wrong pile and you're never going to know what that thing was.

Unless you happen to be in the room when the hiring manager starts yukking it up about how bad your cover letter was. 

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.