employer won’t give me a fair chance to interview

A reader writes:

I am a middle-aged mom who is trying her hardest to re-enter the workforce. I worked part-time when my youngest was in high school three years ago for a year and half, but my job got eliminated. I went back to college for a year and received my certificate as a Medical Secretary.

I have applied at a health system (this includes hospital and clinics; they are combined) for about a year and half, even back when I was in school. I got one interview in 2010 before I went back to school, but although the HR lady said I interviewed quite well, they let someone within have the position. I have not been able to get back through the gate yet. I volunteered in medical records at this hospital, working toward a credit in college this past fall, and the volunteer coordinator told me I could use her as a reference.

Well, HR did call me this past October, and I know I sounded nervous and messed up. I still kept applying whenever I saw a job posted on the website. But when I did not get a interview for a job I was very qualified for, I sent the HR lady an email asking if she would mind giving me some feedback. Was there something my resume did not have? She emailed me back and said it wasn’t me, that they just have a strong pool of applicants with specific medical experience the hiring managers were looking for.

Last week, I was in one of the doctor’s clinics as a patient, and I happened to ask the front office assistant there (this is the job title I have been applying for at various clinics within this health system) where she worked before she came there and about her clinical experience. She told me that she worked as a administrative assistant at a tire place. No clinical experience at all. She had been hired within the past few months. I have had previous hospital training and experience before our family and have medical office schooling and volunteer experience. I didn’t know what to make of this.

The HR lady obviously misled me, and it really hurt my feelings because I have applied there probably 10 times over the past year. I came home at sent the HR lady a very nice and super polite email stating that I was a patient there and that I found out someone was recently hired without any clinical experience and it made me reevaluate this health system as a whole. 

Well, she e-mailed me back saying, “Thank you for your email. Moving forward, I will contact my managers and see if there is a way we can elevate your application against the other applications being considered.” But three days later, the one job I had applied for was filled.

I think maybe my problem is one hiring manager who I interviewed with in 2010 ( I had a panel interview with four hiring managers). She is the practice manager when I go for my OB-GYN exams, and I had to go over her head as a patient there regarding insurance. She does things when she wants to and it took her a month to get around to handling my insurance concern. I think she may have resented me going over her head. I also think the HR lady just sent me that email back because now she knows my family is a patient there and for public relations. Or maybe she thought I might tell people I felt discriminated against because I am middle-aged or I had more experience and was not given a fair chance to interview. I just don’t know. Is this unusual? If I see anything else posted on their website for a position, should I even bother to apply or I am blackballed?

Oh my. I think you’re operating with some fundamental misunderstandings about how hiring works. I’m not sure where to start, so in no particular order:

* The HR person gave you a very typical response when you asked for feedback — explaining that they simply had more qualified applicants. This is very often true, but it’s also very often a polite way of saying “we didn’t think you were a strong candidate.”

* Complaining to HR that they hired someone who you don’t think is as qualified as you are and that you’re “reevaluating” their organization is basically like blackballing yourself. You look difficult and cranky and like you’re not willing to take no for an answer, and no reasonable employer is going to invite those traits on to their staff.

* There’s a bit of a sense of entitlement in your email. You’re not entitled to a “fair chance” to interview. You’re not entitled to tell them that you question their hiring decisions and still expect them to consider you a serious candidate. You’re not even entitled to candid feedback about your candidacy. They can interview and hire anyone they want, and they don’t owe you an explanation. If you act as though they do, you’ll only succeed in ensuring that they won’t hire you.

* As a side note, I cleaned up a bunch of grammatical errors in your email to me. If you’re not proofreading your materials, that alone could have been the initial reason they weren’t interested in hiring you.

Now, is it possible that the practice manager at your OB-GYN office is standing in your way? Maybe. But based on the above, you’re far more in your own way than she is.

At this point, you need to move on. Don’t contact this HR person anymore, and instead focus on applying other places. You can continue to apply at this company if you want to, but I’d be surprised if anything comes of it, at least for a while.

And going forward, keep in mind that most employers have tons of well-qualified candidates applying to work for them. That means that lots of qualified candidates aren’t even going to be interviewed. You can’t take that personally or try to protest it, because if you do, you’ll move yourself from the “qualified but didn’t make the cut this time” pool to the “no way in hell, ever” pool.

{ 428 comments… read them below }

  1. Rob*

    Wow, great post! Excellent job of talking down the person with the questions and hopefully resetting their expectations. I can only hope that person took the feedback and can run with it to make themselves a better candidate moving forward!

  2. Jennifer*

    1. Letter writer: you don’t have a lot of on-the-job experience in the last few years. It is entirely possible that’s what the candidate who got hired had over you– recent work experience.

    2. Also, if you want to do a secretarial job, you need to be extremely good at grammar and spelling. If your writing isn’t legible/clear/grammatically correct, I’d throw out the application immediately and wonder why you want this job if you can’t spell. That’s probably why you didn’t get called back before. Bugging the HR lady on top of that…didn’t help.

    3. “Fair chance” means nothing when applying for a job. Hiring is not a “fair” process.

  3. Yikes*

    This reads like the girl who didn’t get a second date. Let it go, move on. Harassing them isn’t going to help you. You’re essentially showing them how pushy and annoying you’d be as en employee/coworker, and they’re choosing to stay away.

  4. Wow*

    “…it really hurt my feelings.”

    Wow. Just…wow. This makes you sound like you don’t know how the business world works. It doesn’t sound like you actually said this to the HR rep, but if it came across in your dialog, this might be another reason for the lack of interviews. Companies don’t want to have to worry about treating employees with kid gloves. It’s OK to have hurt feelings; it’s not OK to say or indicate that in a business context.

  5. Megan*

    I definitely understand how you feel, but it seems like you’re coming off way too pushy. If I were in your shoes, I’d follow up only once. If you don’t hear back from them, then it’s time to move on.

  6. Kat*

    Applying 10 times in one year was a red flag for me. It sounds like although there are different clinics or locations it all goes through the same HR department. There is a fine line between applying with the same company repeatedly because you are passionate about it vs. coming off a little crazy. When I get applications from the same people every month I wonder if they have forgotten they have applied already. If OP is applying for basically the same position over and over without improving her cover letter or resume nothing will come of it, and it probably looks to HR like she can’t take a hint. If they are different positions each time, can one really be fully qualified for that many positions? Admittedly I manage in retail, so this is out of my wheelhouse.

    1. AD*

      I thought this too, but then, I suppose it depends exactly how their system is set up. If they have an online system, it could be that you submit an application once, and then it notifies you every time there is a job for which you may be a fit. Now, if they really are identical or near-identical positions, it seems that it would make the most sense to post it once, but it could be that they are in locations far enough apart that they are drawing different candidates for each.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Having worked for a health care system before which included a large hospital and about 30 primary care practices scattered around the city, I can say that it could be possible that very similar medical secretary-type jobs are being posted frequently by the same overarching administration. Possibly they are in different enough locations that it makes sense to post them separately, or possibly this health care system administration is as entangled in bureaucracy and stupid red tape as mine was!

        1. Dana*

          I work for a research department within a health system.

          Once I was on the hiring committee for an open staff position. One person looked great on paper, but my boss mentioned that she had applied for every single job posting in the last 2 years and we all thought that was odd. We brought her in for an interview and stuff happened that made it apparent she was not a good fit, even though on paper she was great.

          1. Rachel - Former HR Blogger*

            I work in HR and find that the people that apply weekly or monthly are often the least desirable. In the situations that I have given these individuals a chance to interview – it never goes well. Just today I had an interview setup with someone who had been applying with us monthly for two years. She was a no call, no show.

            1. Anonymous*

              I am curious, as a learning experience for myself, are you at a big corporation where the applications are done through the online site or is it where someone has to specifically send you a direct email?

            2. ThatHRGirl*

              I agree, Rachel! I also find that those who call and need to reschedule interviews or start dates never turn out in the end. It’s discouraging when you try to give someone a chance and they do that. No good deed goes unpunished.

            3. Emily*

              Two summers ago I was hiring for an important new position at my organization. We were not under pressure to fill it immediately, so I collected resumes for a good three months during which I interviewed a few batches of candidates, retitled the position and revised the job description and reposted it, and finally found the candidate we ended up hiring during the third or fourth batch of interviews. During this time, there was someone who was clearly resume-bombing every single job that was posted on Craigslist. He applied to the job every time it expired and we reposted it. His cover letter was an obvious form letter – it had (no subject) and opened with:

              “I am seeking a position with [[our org’s name in a different font and size than the rest of the email]] to apply my skills in cross-cultural understanding across linguistic barriers in the position of

              [[position title abruptly on a new line in a different font and size than the rest of the email]].”

              The position had nothing to do with cross-cultural understanding across linguistic barriers. We’re a US-based and exclusively US-focused non-profit. His cover letter went on to talk about his background in anthropology and cross-cultural transactions which had absolutely no relevance to the position we were hiring for (a legislative policy researcher).

              After receiving this bomb half a dozen times over a couple of months, I decided to provide him some feedback because I wanted to help him. I sent him a friendly email telling him he wasn’t a good fit for our organization but I hoped he would appreciate some professional advice. I told him that he had applied for the position multiple times which made him look careless and disorganized; that he wasn’t following instructions to put the position title in the subject of the email which also looked careless; and that his cover letter did not explain why his anthropology background qualified him for this legislative/political position.

              Not only did he not reply to my email, I received his resume-bomb a couple more times before I finished hiring for the position. Only difference? He started putting the position title in the subject line.

              *sigh*

              1. Another Brit*

                See I always checked if it was the same as one I’d already applied for. Because I knew that postings expired i kept a word document with a copy of each advert I applied for so that i could refer 1) to see if I’d already applied 2) so I could refer to it when an interview opportunity came up weeks later and the posting wasn’t available any more.

                Since I was applying to 5+ a day it meant I had a chance of looking knowledgeable at the interview!

      2. FromMichigan*

        This is an interesting point, although not related to the original post.

        If you really want to work for an organization, does it actually hurt your chances if you apply for all the postings for which you think you’re a good fit? So many large corporations/organizations require everything to be done via an online submittal process; you don’t even email your resume to anyone. If you aren’t selected for one position, your information is not saved and then referenced for the next position. So if, say, Dept. A is hiring in March, and Dept. B hires in June, and Dept. C hires in July… does it hurt to apply for them all even if they’re different job titles?

        1. ThatHRGirl*

          Yes, it can hurt, especially if it shows that you have no idea what those positions do and are vastly offbase about your qualifications. I’ve seen some come through my system that have applied for Asst. Designer, Marketing Coordinator, Imports Manager, Benefits Administrator, Financial Analyst, etc.
          It is highly unlikely that someone is qualified or would be a good fit for more than 1 or 2 of those jobs. It looks like the candidate is just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

          1. KellyK*

            Good point. I think there’s a big difference between applying for dramatically different positions and a bunch of similar ones. (I don’t think you’d assume someone was throwing stuff at the wall to see what stuck if they applied for three or four different marketing and communications positions in different departments.)

            It’s probably worth looking at all the openings you want to apply for in a company and evaluating whether they look like the same person could reasonably apply for all of them.

            1. Anonymous*

              That is very true if they are just throwing to get into the company. However, in this economic period applying for various jobs (still within a skill set) for 2 years at the same company should not be considered a negative.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                *sigh* Well, the two biggest employers here are hospital systems, and I have tried and tried to get in. I’d love to do clerical work there, but no. I give up.

            2. Piper*

              Yeah, I’ve definitely applied for multiple positions in larger companies all within the same umbrella of what I do. It’s perfectly feasible to be qualified for more than one job in the same department. What would be weird was if I was applying to a marketing job, an HR job, and a finance position. That would be ridiculous and clearly appear to lack focus.

  7. M-C*

    Oy. Yes, it sounds like OP is verging on harrassment, which isn’t going to get her anywhere. She may think of it as mere nagging, but nagging isn’t OK at work (although I’d gently suggest it’s not OK at home either..).
    I’d add one more thing to the list of things to look at: mixing roles. It’s one thing being a patient somewhere, and quite another being an employee. Deliberately crossing the line between roles isn’t helpful as it emphasizes the potential drawbacks.
    Do investigate other work avenues, this one isn’t going to lead anywhere at least till everyone concerned has left, by which time your experience will be obsolete.

    1. AD*

      I think it’s pretty common for employees of a healthcare system to be patients of the healthcare system as well, as their insurance generally encourages it.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Agreed. If you’re a medical secretary at Dr. X’s office, you probably want to choose someone else as your primary care physician, but most people in that position would still choose someone in the network if Dr. X is part of a larger organization. (And if Dr. X is in private practice, you’d probably ask her for a recommendation.)

    2. ThatHRGirl*

      AGREED… especially since OP basically told the HR lady that, while at a routine medical appointment, she questioned the current front desk attendant about her previous experience and hiring process. What a HUGE red flag that OP has issues with boundaries, confidentiality, and appropriate behavior, which are obviously very important for someone working in the medical field.

      1. Anonymous*

        I don’t think I crossed any boundaries asking a question. I have worked in the medical field before.

        1. Anonymous*

          You did. It wasn’t appropriate to use small talk as a patient to gain information about hiring.

          1. Anonymous*

            No, not the way I asked the question. I really only wanted to know what skills I needed or experience for the job that she had that I needed.

            1. Anonymous*

              Perhaps I mis-read the piece, but it sounded as if you wanted to find out what experience someone else had that exceeded the skills that you had to offer.

              I understand your angst – I have two master’s degrees – one of which is in librarianship – and I am working two part-time jobs. Welcome to the new order. It’s tough out there.

              My recommendation – network. Get to know people in your field – perhaps through professional organizations, etc. – and just as importantly, let them get to know you and what you have to offer.

  8. david*

    I understand how you felt when you found the person’s background was in the tire industry.

    It might help you to understand, that truth is less important to other human beings than it is to yourself. I understand because truth is high on my list of what is important in life.

    You have to understand that many people simply don’t care if they lie or they care more about being polite than correct.

    The HR people don’t really care. And most of them are not above telling falsehoods. many times they are ‘directed’ to do so.

    On the other hand, you have to realize that if you send emails like that, they will not be interested in talking to you further.

    I disagree with AAM – you are entitled to good work – we all are.

    The problem is that businesses don’t think like that and they view you as a ‘resource’ and not a person. It is clear by the name, isn’t it?

    It is a sad fact of life that you are going to have to play the game the way others play it in this world. They do not care that you see the discrepancies that you see in their personal integrity. This is because they don’t understand, to the level you do, what that should mean.

    This indicates that you are going to have to learn to look beyond their faults, even when you see them.

    Not everyone cares about integrity to the degree you do, nor does everyone value it. Of course, they will say they ‘value integrity’ because that is the response they believe people want to hear.

    HR is there to be the axe for companies. They apply the axe while attempting to stay within legal parameters.

    HR is NOT there to help employees.

    Many people have sought HRs help when they had a problem only to find that it got them booted out of the company quicker.

    They will appear to be friendly to grab as munch information as you give them and then they will use that information to get rid of you…

    They want employees who never complain and never show the slightest bit of displeasure.

    If you want to work for a corporation, you have to understand that this is the reality – even though they will officially deny that it is.

    1. Elizabeth*

      I think you’re being a bit harsh in some of your points. I think an HR person could have integrity, be truthful, and still honestly say, “We have had a strong pool of applicants and went with someone who met our needs best.” The woman who had worked for the tire company might have been a stronger candidate because of her administrative experience, even if it was in a non-medical field.

      Also, I don’t entirely agree with you that “you are entitled to good work – we all are.” As a society, I do think that we should strive for all people to have gainful, useful employment, and I believe the government should support that goal both at a local and federal level. However, this company does not owe the letter-writer a job simply because she has asked for one multiple times. The company can’t employ all the people who need good work, so they pick the people that they think will do the best work in the jobs they have available. That’s the responsible thing to do.

    2. ThatHRGirl*

      Wow, sounds like someone has an axe to grind with their HR department…

      While you are correct that HR’s main responsibility/allegiance is to protect the company from harm/risk, that does not mean that they (general “they”, of course there are bad apples) do not have integrity and only seek to hire people who won’t be a pain in the ass, or diabolically try to get rid of employees who put up any kind of fight.

      What we ARE concerned with is finding the best employees for any given position, who will perform the duties/requirements well thus justifying that person’s paycheck and continuing to keep the company in the black!

      It is abundantly clear from OP’s email and the actions she describes that she’s taken, that she has a hard time recognizing boundaries, appropriate business conduct & communication, and certain aspects of confidentiality. I would hope that ANYONE applying for a position in the medical field, especially a customer-facing one that also deals with medical records and quite a bit of communication (face-to-face, phone, email) would recognize that they needed those skills. OP feels entitled to the position because of a small amount of previous experience, and a certificate from a local school. Those do not say anything about soft skills which clearly are what is lacking.

    3. Josh S*

      I understand your sentiment, though I disagree with a good many parts of it. Let me address a few of your points:

      “You are entitled to good work – we all are.”
      This is correct…for certain definitions of the term “good work.” The high school drop out might only qualify for work at a fast food restaurant, and certainly isn’t entitled to a $60k/year job.

      And while the OP might be entitled to “good work” (however you define it), she is not entitled to good work at the employer of her choice. There are plenty of other good jobs out there in her field. She should pursue those.

      “The problem is that businesses don’t think like that and they view you as a ‘resource’ and not a person. It is clear by the name, isn’t it?”
      Businesses are there to make money for the people who own them, usually by providing a good or service to others, creating some value in the process. They are not there simply to provide jobs. (That’s called a ‘make-work’ program, and isn’t sustainable.)

      If you, as a worker, can help the company add value, provide a good/service, or make money, then you are more than a resource–you are invaluable. A business will fight to get you. But if you are the nicest person, the smartest thinker, and the most socially adept, BUT you cannot add value to the company, you won’t get a job there. People are *not* plug-and-play for any given job.

      To me, it would be degrading and humiliating to think that my value to a company lies purely with my ability to fill a seat. It’s my unique set of experiences, talents, and skills that allow me to bring value to the company, and having a company that recognizes that is WAY more fulfilling than just having a seat to warm (…I’m looking at you, telemarketing industry!)

      “HR is NOT there to help employees.”
      This is, sadly, true more often than not. But in good companies, HR *is* actually there to help employees. Not in their personal problems/issues (though that happens sometimes too), but in their jobs/careers. HR should probably be rightly called “Talent management”–it’s about identifying people with potential and helping discover/uncover/refine that potential, succession planning for if/when people leave the company or transfer departments, and otherwise making sure that people are aligned both in skill and direction.

      It is sad to me that too often, HR only fills the role of “axe-man” or enforcer or legal counsel or whatever. Those jobs can be outsourced (and they often are!), leaving nobody to handle the more important task of talent management.

      ~~~~
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts though. I appreciate hearing them–it’s always sharpening to have someone disagree with you to make you reevaluate the reasons you believe something to be true, and reconsider if you are actually right or not. :)

      1. ThatHRGirl*

        Marry me, Josh S!* You seem to always say what I want to say, but you articulate it better.

        Unless you are the temporary HR Coordinator who works for me. Because his name is Josh S. as well and that would be very weird and not HR-like :)

        1. Josh S*

          A) I’m married. So that ship has sailed. Sorry.
          B) I’m not your temp HR Coordinator (see comment somewhere down the page about what I actually do)
          C) Thank you.

      2. khilde*

        Great points….but more importantly to me right now: how the heck do you get words to bold and italicize?! I have seen a few of you do it and am not sure what code I need to type in to make it do that. Many thanks.

          1. Jamie*

            Now that I know that it works…

            put a in front of anything you want bolded and a to end the bolding. Type the tags with no spaces

            Same for italics – but use an i instead of the b

              1. Jamie*

                ARRGH – I swear I used to know how to type. Let’s try this:

                type .

                that begins the bolding. To end the bolding type . The same for italics, but use an i instead of a b.

                If this doesn’t post correctly I’ll slink off in shame.

                1. Jamie*

                  Okay this is parsing my tags – the site hates me.

                  Type a bracket (less than sign for the math geeks) and then a “b” (no quotes) and a closing bracket (greater than sign) to begin bold.

                  to end bold do the same, but put a forward slash between the first bracket and the b.

                2. khilde*

                  This is hilarous – Jamie’s conversation with herself and the computer. Entertaining and educational!!

                  I think I got it; I vaguely remember that from a message board I used to read a few years ago. I’ll try it sometime. You’ll know I fail if you see a whole bunch of random letters and characters mixed into my sentence!

                3. Jamie*

                  Please do – I don’t want to me the only one with with keyboard mess all over this thread.

                4. Lynne*

                  Hee. Like this:

                  >b< text you want bolded >/b<

                  (Jamie, to get the tags to appear, type:
                  & g t ;
                  & l t ;
                  for the greater-than and lesser-than signs…only without the spaces I just inserted.)

                  (and this *ought* to work, but I will hit Submit and see…)

                5. Lynne*

                  Okay, it worked but I mixed up the signs. Apparently that sort of thing is inevitable in ths thread. :) Correction:

                  <b> this is the bolded text </b>

        1. Jamie*

          It was fun for me, too! Such a beautiful illustration of my wicked IT skills!

          This is why I don’t use my last name on here – if this was googled I’d never work again.

        2. Josh S*

          <b> bold </b>
          <i> italics </i>
          <u> underline </u>
          <del> strikethrough </del>

          If you want to do two of them, you can, but you have to close the tags in the opposite order that you opened them. Like this:
          <u> <b> underlined & bold </b> </u>

    4. Anonymous*

      Thank you so much. I really appreciate your feedback. Yes, being honest is important to me. I do treat others the right way and it is hurtful when you trust what people tell you.

    5. Anonymous*

      I have to agree with David – as a former HR Manager – working under a director – our jobs were to make sure that the employer did not break any personnel laws. There are all sorts of reasons for not selecting a candidate, and a lot has to do with the way in which the applicant interacts with the people in that department. It’s not a perfect science.

  9. JT*

    “HR is NOT there to help employees.

    Many people have sought HRs help when they had a problem only to find that it got them booted out of the company quicker.

    They will appear to be friendly to grab as munch information as you give them and then they will use that information to get rid of you…

    They want employees who never complain and never show the slightest bit of displeasure.

    If you want to work for a corporation, you have to understand that this is the reality – even though they will officially deny that it is.”

    True or not, how are these statements relevant to the OP?

    1. david*

      It’s to help the person understand the background of the situation they are dealing with. This background information can help the person to see the reality of the situation, that is why I took my time to post it.

      1. JT*

        But the “background” I quoted is all about employee-HR relations. The OP is not an employee.

        1. Long Time Admin*

          Yes, JT, but it’s apparent from the OP’s post that she doesn’t understand how the business structure works. She thinks they’re assessing her qualifications differently than they actually are. If she got a job there, she would make the mistake of thinking that HR is her friend.

          The most important sentence in david’s post is: “They want employees who never complain and never show the slightest bit of displeasure.”

          The OP has already gone way over the top with complaining and being difficult. They’ll never hire her, and she won’t ever know why.

  10. Andrea*

    I’m sorry to say it, but when the OP described herself as a “middle-aged mom,” I had a feeling what was coming, and I kept reading to find that I was right. OP, start thinking of yourself as–and acting like–an aspiring professional. Hurt feelings? Grilling a receptionist about her background and then deciding that you are better qualified? Um, no. If I were that HR person, I would not have claimed to try to elevate your application, I would have told you to look elsewhere for a job. (Oh, and I hope you aren’t describing yourself as a mom in your resume/cover letter.)

    1. Anonymous*

      Yeah, I agree. I was shocked to hear you were questioning the receptionist on her experience, and then had the nerve to e-mail HR and question the hiring decision! You have definitely black listed yourself by being so aggressive and unprofessional. Newsflash– bombarding a company with applications, e-mails, phone-calls, etc. DOES NOT make you appear as a desirable candidate… instead it gives anything with your name on it a re-direct from a hiring managers inbox straight to the trash. I still can’t believe you sent that e-mail to HR… you may have been reevaluating your opinion of their hospital, but you also solidified the hospital’s opinion in respect to your candidacy. I’m sure your name certainly has a reputation among the hiring officials at that company!

    2. Malissa*

      I think a change of perspective is exactly what is needed here. I like the suggestion that the OP act like an aspiring professional. That is excellent advice. I imagine a lot of the other problems will fall by the wayside if this kind of attitude is taken.
      I understand the utter frustration of job hunting and can totally sympathize with the OP in that respect. After a few (hundred) rejections it really does start to play with your mind. I keep telling myself that it’s the economy, not me that’s truly hindering the hiring market at the moment. Whether this is true or not I don’t know, but I’d like to think that. ;)

  11. Anonymous*

    She emailed the HR lady to complain about how an employee has no medical field credentials, just some secretarial work from the auto industry???

    I’m still cringing.

    Please move on OP before you make things worse for yourself with this company. If you haven’t done so already, that bridge is going to get burned pretty damn quickly.

    AAM – Any chance we can see how poorly written the original email was?

    1. Victoria*

      See the original email? Absolutely not. (I mean, I’m not AAM, but I’m sure she’ll respond the same way – at least, I hope she does!)

      I hope this comment threat doesn’t turn into a bashfest for this letter writer. Ok, so there are some things she needs to be doing differently. AAM addressed those things, in an effort to help the writer and offer an example and lesson to the rest of us. The point was not for readers to take mean-spirited pleasure in the writer’s struggles.

      1. Ry*

        I totally agree and really really hope my sea-o’-words below does not seem like OP-bashing :(

      2. Angela*

        I’m so glad someone said that. This poor woman, misguided as she is at this point, doesn’t deserve the bashing she’s getting. Just because someone doesn’t know the right way to do something doesn’t make them a horrible person or an idiot in general.

        1. Liz*

          I agree. The OP is probably a great advocate for her children and that is the model she is using here. It is obviously inappropriate but how would she know that? Most professionals will just nod politely and snark behind her back, so she wrote to AAM and then we all jump on her? She is trying to move from a world where as a good mom she was respected by her peers to a world where people cringe when they hear “mom.”

          It sounds hard and she is obviously trying to learn, if imperfectly, so to me that deserves some compassion.

        1. Victoria*

          Oh, for crying out loud. I keep screwing this up. I am not the OP; that was left in my Chrome autofill after being the OP a couple of days ago (on the ethics question). Sigh.

      3. Anonymous*

        I am the person you are answering.

        See the original email? Absolutely not. (I mean, I’m not AAM, but I’m sure she’ll respond the same way – at least, I hope she does!)

        That’s right. You’re not AAM. Before you start jumping on my case and “tak[ing] mean-spirited pleasure” by bashing fellow readers, I suggest why you ask you I want to see it. Since you didn’t ask, let me tell you anyway. AAM brought it up, and she claims that she had to do some major editing to make it presentable for her blog. Now, it is up to AAM about that, not you (unless Alison has a pseudonym or ghost writer named Victoria) as to how much more she wants to divulge about how the writings of the actual email. Was it text speak? Was it poor grammar? No use of capital letters? AAM has ranted against the use of poorly written comments on here where we have been able to see it.

        Furthermore, everything else I have said does not turn it into a bashfest against the OP. She is certainly looking to burn a bridge if she has not done so already.

        And let me say one more thing while I’m here. People are very quick to put down the young, straight-out-of-college kids, but when we have an “adult” (emphasizing to distinguish the older folks vs. the kids), suddenly they are sympathizing when this OP is demonstrated the same, if not at times worse, behavior as the “entitled” young ones. Everyone thinks that, “Oh dear, she has been an advocate for her kids and she wouldn’t know better.” But when the new college grad jumps on here, it’s suddenly, “This entitled brat thinks he’s boss…”

        And no, I’m neither the new college grad nor the middle age person. It’s merely an observation.

        1. Anonymous*

          But trust me, when the email comes in from a college grad, many of you will be on that bandwagon where you wouldn’t mind embarrassing the you-know-what out of the kid.

  12. V*

    Can everyone back off of OP a little bit please?! I’m not advocating any of this stuff- but this blog wouldn’t exist (or be useful) without people who don’t know how to do everything right. OP has not been in the work force for a while, and is misguided and is demonstrating some attitude issues (which can be adjusted). Let’s have a little compassion, and give her some advice in a civilized way. And no, we don’t need to see how poorly written the original email was.

    With that said, the essence of all of the above comments pretty much sums things up. One thing I would add, however, is that it seems like you (OP) aren’t applying at many (if any) places aside from this specific health system. It won’t matter if you don’t change the way you are interacting with the company, but if you have applied to this company 10 times in the last year you’ve still only applied to 10 jobs. That’s not many jobs to be rejected from, especially when it could be thought of as only being rejected from one organization. But now you’re seeing it as unsuccessfully job searching for a full year, which can’t feel good. Change your approach and expand your horizons.

    1. Victoria*

      V and I are not the same person, but I wholeheartedly second everything she says.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      V (and Victoria above too), thanks for saying this. It’s easy to pile on (especially when I’m no sugar-coater myself), but it’s good to remember that a real person is reading this and could be your mom/aunt/sister/friend/neighbor.

    3. JPT*

      Agreed… all mistakes aside, one thing I thought was that this person has been out of the workforce for awhile. It was probably way different the last time she was jobhunting (i.e. easier to get a job just because you’re qualified). I know multiple moms who have gone back into the workforce after raising children, and if their skills are solid and they interview well, they eventually found employment. It sounds like the original poster has gone back to get some of the needed skills… I would suggest going back through some of the posts on this site and others about applying/interviewing. They’re very useful.

      1. Anonymouse*

        This. I’ve seen lots of my peers raise children and then try to re-enter the workforce with a great deal of experience in parenting, only to realize that the skills they’ve honed being full time parents don’t necessarily translate in the realm of today’s modern business world.

        I think a lot of it has to do with the concept of equality and fair play that we strive to teach our kids. The business world does not revolve around fairness. In fact, it’s quite unfair. Just my observation.

    4. Eva*

      Thank you, V, I just may save that first paragraph of yours for future reference! All one would have to do would be to change the specifics shortcomings of the OP and it would be good to go for many a future thread.

  13. Ry*

    Oh dear, oh dear. Even though it might be difficult to see yourself in the light Alison has cast, please listen to her.

    A few notes, since you’re applying for a job in my industry:

    1. Don’t work where you’re seen as a patient. Especially don’t apply to work someplace after having been a patient already. It blurs professional boundaries (patient/coworker/supervisee) in a way that not everyone is comfortable with. If you’re applying to work with people who aren’t comfortable with that kind of dual-role relationship (and it would be very difficult to find that out in advance), you won’t get the job. (NB: It is totally different to be seen by a trusted colleague for a medical problem. If both people already know each other and are comfortable with adding a medical relationship, that’s totally fine and can work great. Just don’t abuse your colleague-providers for “door-handle consults,” which is when they’ve already got their hand on the door to leave and you say, “Oh, by the way, would you mind looking at my rash real quick?” or whatever.)

    2. The tone of your email does sound pushy and entitled, unfortunately. Maybe you don’t intend it and aren’t really that way at all; that’s just how it comes off here. You’ve given us lots of information about your feelings, your age, and your suspicions about what others may think of you, but not a lot of facts. A collection of feelings and suspicions cannot drive your behavior at work.

    3. You seem naive. Did you really spend a year and a half getting a certificate in being a medical secretary? Was it one of those for-profit technical schools? This certificate is not a thing you need (whereas you would need an LPN, RN, or BSN to practice nursing, for example), and the vast majority of employed medical secretaries do not have certificates. Quizzing the medical secretary at your own doctor’s office, and then judging her for not having medical experience, shows naivety and lacks professionalism. You wasted a bunch of money and might consider leaving this certificate off your resume. Alison, or anybody in medical support, other opinions about this?

    4. You HAVE TO be good at spelling and grammar. You also have to be a quick typist and able to adjust to new technologies. You also have to be scrupulously professional towards patients (and the people with the power to hire you will only be able to judge this ability by seeing how you behave, in person and on paper). Concentrate more on these skills and less on whether you deserve interviews or whether your feelings are hurt.

    5. Go to a temp agency that specializes in placing temps in medical support positions. The benefits may be poor or nonexistent, unfortunately, but if you want a first job in the field, you may have to try to put up with that situation for a while. Big health care systems often use temp-to-hire situations almost exclusively, usually without publicizing that practice. That way, they get to “try out” new staff for up to one year before deciding whether to hire them. If they love you, it can happen quicker, but be patient.

    Sheesh, sorry I typed a million words here. I hope some of this helps. I genuinely do wish you good luck, so I’m trying to give you information directly, without beating around the bush, but I hope I don’t come off as snarky. It’s not easy to get a job and since you’ve written to Alison you clearly want to solve the problem! Good luck!

    1. JT*

      Yes, the OP has made many mistakes, but they haven’t hurt anyone but her/himself. I’m a little disappointed in the piling on that seems to have started.

      1. Anonymous*

        If AAM and her readers don’t shine a light on what is hurting the OP, then who will? I highly doubt that HR lady will. It might sound harsh at first, but if the OP is open to all suggestion and can sift through them properly as to what is applicable to her case, then she might have a job sooner than the track she is on presently.

    2. K.*

      I completely agree on the temp agency thing – that’s a great suggestion. A temp agency will also likely go over your resume with you in your initial meeting and sort of teach you how to present yourself. You could also ask them if they’d consider submitting you for other positions for which you might be qualified: other admin jobs, data entry clerks, whatever – maybe even short-term gigs just to boost your experience a little since you’ve been out of the work force for a while.

      I actually don’t think the OP asking the receptionist where she worked before starting there is a big deal; that’s not an uncommon or particularly invasive networking question (depending on how she phrased it, of course). Emailing HR and questioning their hiring of said receptionist, however, is way past anything that could be considered appropriate.

      1. ThatHRGirl*

        I think the problem with asking the receptionist such questions is that it could make someone concerned that she’ll have personal conversations with patients and does not know where the line is.

      2. L. A.*

        I think it’s a matter of how the OP approached the receptionist. If she flew off the handle in the doctors office it was obviously inappropriate. However, if she approached the situation by saying something like “I’d really love to work here, can you tell me how you got your job?” or “Can you give me any advice as to how I can get a job in an office like this?” I think it delves into inky territory if she said something like, “I’ve applied for 10 jobs here and can’t seem to get an interview! What did you do to get yours?” It’s a fine line to walk between networking and complaining.

        1. K.*

          Exactly – that’s why I said “depending on how she phrased it.” If she was like “How the F did YOU get hired?” that’s obviously not going to work. If she checked in for her appointment and then said something like “By the way, I’m looking for jobs similar to yours – do you have a long history in the medical secretary field?” I think that’s OK. It’s not really a personal question if she confines it to the receptionist’s background as it pertains to job-hunting.

          1. Anonymous*

            True, if she kept it to herself. But then she used that as ammunition when talking to hr. That’s where I say the big no-no.
            Very similar to when AAM says just because A is getting paid X does not mean you should go into your boss and say well I want X. It will usually backfire.

            1. Kelly O*

              I think you said what was bugging me about her conversation with the receptionist best. It wasn’t that she asked about what the receptionist did before, it was taking that conversation (which the other person may have thought was either just friendly chit-chat, or a non-threatening line of conversation) and then turned around and emailed HR to point out how “under qualified” she felt this person was, in comparison.

              I think that’s where my original sympathy went south when reading this the first time.

              1. Jamie*

                That’s how I read it. Like if some customer in passing where I got my computer science degree and upon my saying I didn’t have a CS degree emailing my boss complaining about my qualifications.

                It felt mean – using pleasantries to get info which was used to point out their ‘inadequacies’ to her boss.

              2. Cassie*

                ^ This. My mom asks questions like that (how did you get this job, etc), but using that info to bug the HR person is a no-no.

              3. Anonymouse*

                Me three. It sounds like the receptionist was trying to share her experience and encourage the OP to keep on trucking, and the OP attempted to torpedo her.

    3. Long Time Admin*

      Yes, suggestion # 5 is the best advice so far!

      Temp agencies can help job seekers get the technical skills they need, and the best of them can help job seekers with the “soft” skills as well.

      One other organization that I know about is the Christian Women’s Job Corp. It’s not an employment agency, it’s more of a training center. Check and see if there’s a branch in your area.

      There is A LOT of competition for decent jobs, and the OP needs to get all the help she can.

    4. Andrea*

      #3 is exactly what I was thinking. I suspect that the OP was misinformed by some for-profit place who sold her a certificate that she doesn’t need. If she doesn’t have a good grasp of basic grammar, usage, and punctuation, then they did her no favors at all. And as a result, she may have assumed that she is more qualified than someone with recent secretarial experience at a tire shop. Hey, we’ve all fallen for advertisements and bought things we later wished we hadn’t. I agree that a temp agency would be her best bet at this point, and I hope the OP takes that advice. She should stop focusing on this particular health system and broaden her search a bit. (Maybe also check out some language and usage books from the library, because brushing up on those things might really make a difference for her.)

      1. fposte*

        Oh, that’s an excellent point–I didn’t even think of that. Yes, it might be worthwhile for her to do some searching or check with somebody who does hiring to see if what her certificate is perceived as giving her. It’s all too possible to make something like that the centerpiece of your application without realizing that it shouldn’t be.

      2. Jaime*

        I second the suggestion to check out your local library for brushing up on your grammar/language skills. My public library also has lots of online resources – test prep, business writing skills, foreign language learning, etc that are all part of your free, library membership. :) Also, many libraries have free resume help sessions and practice interviews, networking, etc.

    5. Dana*

      Agree, except for #1. Employees of large health systems are often also patients. This is true in my case. Healthcare in the area is dominated by my employer, and it’s much cheaper for insurance purposes. I wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable being treated in a clinic where I worked, but there are other options (which is probably what you meant- just don’t actually make appointments at your own place of employment, where you know the docs, nurses, etc)

      1. Ry*

        Yes, that’s exactly what I meant, Dawn. Sorry to have been unclear. My PCP is within our system, but I don’t work for her. In my clinic, we treat a specialist MD (as a patient of ours), whom I see in her clinic (as a patient of hers), and when we’re in one setting we never let on that we know each other from the other setting. Whew, that was confusing! And yes, insurance does encourage us to stay within the system – but not necessarily within our own clinics.

    6. Susanna- From fair chance post*

      I just read again the suggestion you gave me and wanted to say thank you. Since you work in this industry I appreciate your comments so much. Unfortunately, in the area I live the temp agency here doesn’t have a lot of work period. I am going to take to heart your suggestions, they are very helpful. Yes, I agree there are many things I need to do differently. Thank you again.

  14. Anonymous*

    You’ve had two chances with this company but messed up the latest one. Then question the employee and complain to HR. That is not professional. You had your chance, you messed up, you move on.

    And applying 10 times in 1 year. That is nothing, I can apply to 10 jobs (at different companies) in under a week. Nothing about applying for jobs is “fair” it is just the way it is.

    Though I do disagree with the poster who said applying for the same company in a year is wrong. Many times there are different titles for the same jobs but different hr people. As well getting through the computer system maze of keywords with job applications could be different for each one with different hr managers.

  15. JPT*

    I would be wary of how you ask for feedback. I’ve gotten e-mails where one candidate in a pool of 100+ told me that they did not understand why they didn’t get an interview, because they were qualified and had X and Y experience. 100+ other candidates also had X and Y experience. I don’t mind giving a little feedback, but having your decisions questioned by someone who did nothing but send you a resume and application is not generally welcome.

    “I came home and sent the HR lady a very nice and super polite email stating that I was a patient there and that I found out someone was recently hired without any clinical experience and it made me reevaluate this health system as a whole.”

    … and in doing so, prevented yourself from likely ever getting an interview with them.

  16. Dan*

    Amen.

    As AAM has mentioned, and others have echoed in the comments, there are a LOT of qualified people out there right now. A lot of qualified people with a lot of experience in many things.

    This means you can’t take anything for granted, including your own experience or those you’re competing against. I’m pretty well skilled and very broadly experienced in my field. I get very far in the process, but get beaten out by people who are honestly more qualified than I. Some with decades of experience, some with only a few years but that few years is *exactly* what the company/agency is looking for.

    Best of luck.

  17. fposte*

    OP, I think you should broaden your search and even expand the possibilities to non-medical jobs as well. Keep your eye out for positions opening in the small practices outside of the big health facility; look for clerical work in offices that aren’t medical at all. You don’t say what your job was a few years ago; is there the equivalent of that any place in town?

    Even if what you really want to aim for is a job at Big Health Facility, this is how you get there–by gaining additional experience and work skills and returning in a few years when you’re a different applicant, not by reapplying over and over again with the same credentials. And in the meantime you may find that you’re a better fit with a different organization anyway.

    1. khilde*

      fposte – what field/industry do you work in? (and it’s ok if you don’t want to say). I’m just curious about the backgrounds of the more prominent and respected commentors on this site. I know that Jamie is in IT. Charles is in training. Wilton Businessman, I’m not sure. There are many others who comment often and are valued, so I know I’m missing some. But I can just think of you four as being the most frequent. Anyway, I appreciate all the occupational diversity on this site.

      1. khilde*

        Oh yeah, and Student, Josh S., and moe are others that comment often. Maybe I shouldn’t have singled out certain people……sorry if that has come across the wrong way. Heck, Maybe it should be its own post to see what industry people are in. I still want to know, but sorry for making it cumbersome.

        1. Esra*

          I know there are a few other graphic designers kicking around. I’m one myself and design + web teams have come up a few times in the comments.

            1. khilde*

              Yes, Esra & Piper — of course now that I see your names I realize that you comment often, too. Which is why I shouldn’t have called anyone out specifically. But glad you chimed in!

          1. Josh S*

            Man, if only our commenting system allowed us to have brief bios or profiles or something like that. This would totally be awesome for khilde’s question.

            Oh, did you know that DISQUS has an (optional) spot for bio/profiles?

            :)

        2. Josh S*

          I wear a lot of different hats. I’m a freelancer.

          Right now, I’m doing mainly Market Research Analysis. Not-so-much the taste-test or panel discussions, but rather competitive analysis, industry-level trends analysis, regression testing of consumer purchasing behavior, creating/maintaining/updating category sales & brand share data tables, company profiling and analysis, and other sorts of research-y things.

          I also spend a portion of my time doing Strategic Business Consulting, largely for small/local companies and non-profit organizations. Everything from strategy prioritization to marketing to social media presence/outreach to fundraising strategy to helping find/build/connect advisory boards (and boards of directors)… I don’t do it all, but I can usually point a company to a good resource if it’s outside my wheelhouse.

          As a sideline, I am acting as the business adviser for a small tech start-up. I allowed myself to get sucked in to a formal role in exchange for an equity stake rather than remain a cash-paid consultant. It’s a wonderfully distracting waste of time, I fear, but useful for helping me understand some of the dynamics of web-based businesses. I don’t think I’ll ever let myself get sucked in again.

          When I’m not busy with all of that (or commenting on this blog!), I’m the father of a 10 month old girl, a husband, and an aspiring foodie and wine snob.

          Oh, and I’m searching for a Full Time job doing research/consulting in the Chicago area. (So if you know anyone…)

          1. khilde*

            Yes, many hats! Hey – is there such thing as Marketing Psychology? I have always thought it would be awesome to be involved in the psychological/behavioral aspect of marketing. Or….is that essentially what marketing is? Clearly, I don’t know much about it. But I’m fascinated by human behavior and how it relates to how/why we consume products.

            1. Laura L*

              Marketing basically is psychology. I’m in the psych field right now and there are quite a few academic journals dedicated to marketing and consumer research. Most of that research is related to decision making.

              1. Piper*

                Yeah, I’d say marketing is a combination of psychology, sociology and anthropology…or at least applying knowledge of those fields in a business context.

                1. khilde*

                  [palm to the forehead] Well of course it is. And I have a BS in Psychology! I’m a little sheepish now. Perhaps that’s why I think marketing would be fun! I think where I’d have the trouble is applying that knowledge in the business context. I don’t think I’m very business minded so that’s where I’d get stuck. Thanks for chiming in!

                2. Jamie*

                  Just throw your data a pivot table and accompanying bar graph and reference the pareto principle a lot. That’s all it takes to dress up marketing data so you can take it to a business review meeting.

      2. fposte*

        I’m mongrelly–it’s a library school academic position with a big publishing component. As AAM says, we have a ton of librarians here, and I agree with you that it’s interesting to see where we’re all coming from, and that we seem to have people with a valuable diversity of experience. I’ve appreciated your take on things as well–what occupation are you coming here from?

        1. khilde*

          “I’m mongrelly” – ha, I love that.

          Thanks for asking. I work for state government in the HR department as an employee trainer. I develop and conduct professional development training, supervisory training, some safety training. I’ve been here for about 6 years and was in the Air Force in Personnel for 4 years before that. So I guess I’ve always been in the public sector and it’s fascinating to me to read how business operates in the private sector. This blog has been invaluable to keep me current with trends and issues in management and the workplace. Because I’m actually not a supervisor (yet teach supervisory classes), I am always afraid my skills from when I was a supervisor in the AF will grow rusty so I need to keep up to date. Alison’s advice, plus the comments have really kept me plugged in.

      3. Jamie*

        Hmmm…so what you’re saying is that if Alison wanted to start her own mid-sized corporation she has a ready made pool of talent in her comment section from which to fill key positions?

        With her at the helm there would be no crappy management getting in the way – this could lead to total domination of whatever market she wished to conquer.

        I’d be so in!

            1. Jamie*

              ISO/TS management rep and certified internal auditor…I can serve on Mike’s QC team if needed :).

          1. Andrea*

            I’m a technical/professional writer and editor. I also design documents. My field is public relations, specifically lobbying. I’ve written about a wide variety of topics for many different rhetorical situations. I also taught composition and professional writing at the college level for about 6 years (after grad school), and I have 8 years of experience in editing articles for academic journals and professional publications.

            All of this is to say: I want to work for/with AAM, too, please.

              1. Jamie*

                I was hoping to lure you into Information Project Management.

                Enforcing deadlines, doing cost benefit analysis, following up with people who don’t keep track of deadlines, negotiating contracts with vendors, diplomatically strong-arming co-workers into realizing that IT projects take priority over whatever pesky little things that compromise their actual jobs, creating electronic file libraries and keeping them save from rouge engineers, shoo people away who think IT should be responsible for teaching them to use Word, cost analysis breakdowns for inventory control, internal auditing…

                And now I am totally sad I don’t work in this fictional company – because creating that position would be awesome.

                Assuming I was hired for the fictional company, I can promise IT has the coolest gear and the most fun…and no one knows what we so when you remap a network drive in people think you’re a magician.

          1. Liz in a library*

            Who says they wouldn’t need a well-staffed corporate library? ;)

            (I also have law library experience, in case your hypothetical legal department needs help!)

            1. Laura L*

              Good point! Also, I’m currently working as an indexer/abstracter (I’m never sure how to spell that), so I can index this company’s future website, databases, training manuals, etc.

              1. danr*

                That used to be my job (the indexer part), but I moved on to content conversion and QA, so I can check the indexing. (another librarian who took a fork in the road).

        1. khilde*

          Jamie – never thought of it that way, but you’re totally right! What a fabulous idea. I really do think there’s awesome diversity on this blog. We could have a lot of fun dreaming up this organization….

          1. Jamie*

            Heck, on a serious note if there was some way for AAM readers to connect on Linkedin I would find that interesting.

            I know a couple of times over the last few years I’ve emailed Alison about certain posters asking to pass along my info because they were looking for employment in areas where we had open positions and I thought from their postings they might be a good fit. Unfortunately, none were in Chicago – but if AAM had some kind of careers section it would be an awesome candidate pool.

            I’m just musing aloud – as long as we’re creating a fictional company I thought we could create a fictional networking thing as well.

            Next…world domination.

              1. Jamie*

                I was just musing aloud (atype?) I don’t know how problematic that would be, and it’s certainly not my place to make requests for Alison to do more work and provide more free offerings, in addition to the daily dose of awesomeness.

                But if someone like that ever happened I would definitely be up for it.

                1. Lore*

                  Oh, yeah, I’m not saying Alison should take on another job of ongoing moderation. Just that the possibility for connecting in that forum exists, and I’d be all for it as well.

                2. Laura L*

                  I think it would be a great idea. Could it be set up as a kind of fan group? Meaning, it’s moderated by readers of this blog, not by Alison herself, and we clearly state that we aren’t affiliated with the blog/Alison.

                  We should probably get Alison’s okay, but I’m up for it.

                3. Jamie*

                  For sure any kind of group would definitely need to go through Alison – because it would reflect on her.

                  When she’s big enough to tour with Van Halen and had thousands of unofficial fan sites out there – then she trades her private life for fame…then it’s out of her hands. (fyi – when that day comes I have dibs on selling bootleg mp3s of her podcast interviews.)

                  I could be something as simple as those of who would like to having a link in the gravatar go to a page to link with information. It’s just the security aspect that needs work.

                4. khilde*

                  Do people typically put their pictures on their LinkedIn profiles? It just makes me think of when I was taking online classes and got to know my classmates’ online persona very well through all these classes we took together. You sort of form an image in your mind of what the person looks like. Toward the end of our classes together, someone suggested we post photos of ourselves (voluntary, of course) to the chat room. It freakin blew my mind. And sort of made me feel weird. Because the way I imagined people was not the way they looked at all!! And not that anything was wrong with anyone, of course. It just didn’t match what I was expecting (kind of like when you figure out how radio personalities look – whoa).

                  Part of me really wants to see you guys….and the other part is afraid. :) Well, now I’m just being silly, but I appreciate that we can be here.

                5. Piper*

                  @khilde, generally it’s considered a LinkedIn best practice to have a picture of yourself. Some even go so far as to recommend having professional headshots. I think this is okay, but a little much. Just putting up a professional looking snapshot (ie, don’t be holding a beer or standing on the beach in your bikini) is fine in most cases, I think.

                6. Jamie*

                  I don’t know what the break-down is, but while a lot of people do have pics, enough don’t that I don’t feel weird not having one.

                  I wouldn’t be comfortable posting a pic, just because for me it would feel irrelevant. “Hey, here I am smiling awkwardly at the camera so you can see how much I hate getting my picture taken in my terrified expression.” It was bad enough on my wedding day, I don’t want to repeat the experience for Linkedin.

                  Besides, I look exactly like Valerie Bertinelli. And if I posted a picture then you would know that was a lie…so what purpose would that serve?

                  I know I appear to be doing nothing but posting, but I’m working on something spanning shifts and weekends so my hours have been crazy long lately and I’m holed up in my office…and as sad as it is, you guys are my contact with the outside world at the moment. So I really appreciate the company – thanks.

                7. khilde*

                  Well, this has been a highly engaging post all around so it’s good timing for you. I spend too much time here, rabidly checking for updates, but I think I can do a pretty good job relating it back to my actual job. Reading, researching, staying current so that I can train others. At least that’s what I’m going to go with should it ever come up. :)

                8. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I’m totally okay with a AAM fan group on LinkedIn, set up and managed by others. I like the me-not-doing-more-work option! I’d have a couple of requests about how it’s framed, but nothing too onerous. If you guys really want to do this, how about anyone who’s interested emails me and I’ll put you all in touch!

                9. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Also, one note — if you register with Gravatar, whenever you comment here, your gravatar will show up instead of those weird little shadow figure, and when someone clicks on it, it’ll go to whatever site you put in there (so could be your LinkedIn profile or whatever). Obviously that doesn’t work if you want to be anonymous there.

      4. Jamie*

        “Anyway, I appreciate all the occupational diversity on this site.”

        I think this is a really good point – and one of the reasons it’s so valuable. Because AAM proves time and again that every situation isn’t made up of special snowflake and good management is good management regardless of whether you’re manufacturing bubblegum or doing field research to prove the existence of bigfoot.

        Field specific forums are fabulous – and personally I find the Spiceworks community absolutely essential both for the knowledge respository and the community. But that is a community of IT people of every ilk, so while there is diversity of specialization there is more commonality than you’d have here. When it comes to the big picture stuff I so appreciate Alison and the AAM comment section because it’s broadening and helps me see the big picture.

        On the other hand when I need a fast answer to a question about a problem with packet switching after remapping switch ports…then I head there.

        Speaking of which, someone over there had a general question about hiring or something (I forget the topic) and I was just pulling up a message box to post a link to AAM when I saw someone beat me to it. That was kind of cool – seeing Alison referenced in that other world.

        1. Josh S*

          “On the other hand when I need a fast answer to a question about a problem with packet switching after remapping switch ports…then I head there.”

          Um, refresh your TCP/IP protocols?

          Yeah, you better head to that other forum…

          1. Jamie*

            Ha! It was rhetorical – my packets are swishing just fabulously today.

            (I meant ‘switching’ but the typo amused me so I’m leaving it in.)

    2. Kelly O*

      I’d also add that if you don’t limit yourself to a medical secretary or front-desk position, you might also have luck with some organizations. I know several people who started off in records, file rooms, or in coding (most of them with certificates or A.S. degrees in a medical office administration type thing.)

      I’d think that getting some experience in an office after working part-time would be really valuable to you (and also help with perception issues so you get a better view of the bigger picture, and maybe understand how to go about getting your first promotion/step up job.)

    3. Anon1973*

      I agree with this. My goal was to work at the major university in town. After graduation I applied, but was turned down. So I applied at some other places and eventually took a position at a non-profit. I applied again at the university and was turned down. I kept working at the non-profit. I applied again at the university and this time I was hired. It took a while, but I finally got in.

    4. bradamante*

      The OP’s use of the word “clinical” was a red flag to me–in my experience that’s usually reserved for someone who has a healthcare license of some sort and is participating in patient care. OP, keep in mind that in medicine a little knowledge is a dangerous thing; by stressing your training so much you may be coming across as someone who would overstep her bounds and potentially put patients in danger. Go to any medical forum and read all the posts on medical assistants posing as nurses, etc. to see what I mean. Some offices may actually prefer people who have no pretensions to any medical knowledge, since they can train them to do exactly those things that they are qualified to do and no more.

  18. Jennifer*

    It’s not just about qualifications/experience. I hire part-time aides for our library’s children’s department and I’m generally more interested in finding someone who fits in with the other staff and is friendly and likable and then training them for what I need. I had a woman (regular patron) come back after one posting and yell at me for not even interviewing her when she had more experience than the high schooler I hired. Well, yeah, she had worked in a law library ten years before, but the circulation staff all hated her, she was super weird, and I’d seen in storytimes that she had difficulty crouching or kneeling, which was a necessity for children’s shelving and I’d had one adult quit on me b/c of this already. The high schooler I hired had no library experience, but she was eager to learn, staff liked her, and she showed through her previous jobs that she was a fast study and had initiative and creativity.

    1. Ornery PR*

      And the high schooler probably accepted a way lower paycheck than the person with experience would have.

    2. Anonymous*

      Regular patrons applying for jobs is so awkward! It’s never the ones you would like to have for co-workers. Many times we don’t even interview patrons because they are “known quantities” and we already know that they will be way too much trouble as employees.

      Also I doubt you are paying the HS employee less than you would pay an adult, as generally in the field everyone starts off at the same rate regardless of experience or age.

      1. Jennifer*

        We ALWAYS ask circ about potential new hires. If you have ever yelled at our front desk staff, we will know!

        Yeah, we pay the same. Some of our staff, who are unionized, get automatic raises based on how long they’ve been there, but that doesn’t apply to a new hire – or to these temp positions.

  19. AD*

    I want to touch on something I haven’t seen in the comments yet: There is a serious problem with the presumption that someone who worked for a tire place doesn’t have experience relevant to a medical clinic. Many of the exact same administrative skills are likely needed for both positions, and if the newly-hired woman was able to convey that in her resume/cover-letter/interview, then good for her!

    OP, you shouldn’t make this type of assumption about anyone’s level of qualification or expertise. It will only get you into more trouble.

    1. Kelly O*

      Totally agree. You can learn the medical terminology and the particular hospital’s procedures. Most admins are used to a faster pace, things changing frequently, and constantly adapting to new technology. Those are all transferable skills that can go across a wide variety of industries.

      So just because the person at the front desk worked at a tire shop previously (and that might just be what she did immediately prior to taking this job, you never know) doesn’t mean she’s not qualified (and you also don’t know if she’s in the process of taking courses, or even already had courses. Some people are selective about how they answer questions if they’re not sure about the context of the question.)

      1. Ellie H.*

        You’re totally right about the last part, that people don’t have to and often don’t want to recite their qualifications to you. I know this is a sign of a bad attitude on my part, but I take great delight in answering people’s questions with “Before this, I was unemployed” or “I’m a secretary” or “I’m not a student, I just live in the town” when I can tell they are really hoping I tell them about my fancy education and plans for graduate school and blah blah blah.

      2. Heather*

        And really? Why would she have to answer this stranger’s questions anyhow? I can’t even imagine how that went. I don’t think I would ever answer a stranger’s questions about what my past qualifications are to do my job.

        It would be different if someone said “I’m thinking of going back to school to do this – what courses would one need” or something like that.

    2. Natalie*

      Very good point. Admin skills can be very transferable between fields, especially for the more entry-level positions.

  20. Anon*

    I think the OP’s frustration with being passed over for younger candidates is probably legitimate, as I’ve watched older female family members struggle with the same thing. And while I agree with the general consensus that she should have been less aggressive in her approach with HR, etc., it’s likely that she’s a victim of bad/outdated job searching advice. You know, the old tropes about how you should follow up with a potential employer repeatedly because persistence will get you the job, etc. It’s hard to let go of that old conventional wisdom, but she’s come to the right place for good, current advice.

  21. Laura*

    Also, you dont know what they are looking for in an applicant. Hiring Managers discriminate (sorry to all those out there who dont!) for a variety of reasons. Maybe they need a male, or someone of an ethnic background other than yourself. This shouldn’t happen and candidates should be evaluated on skills, but things happen. Maybe the woman you spoke to (who used to work at the tire center) was the brother/sister of the hiring manager or someone within the organization. Things happen and you need to move on!

  22. Julie*

    Another place OP might want to look for jobs is professional associations for doctor’s. I’m currently the admin assistant for a professional association that represents fertility specialists, including OB-GYNs, nurses, embryologists, etc. No, it’s not the same thing as working for a hospital or a clinic, but a knowledge of medical terms and practices will definitely be helpful.

  23. Julie*

    (And, naturally, as per the rules of the internet, I discover typos in my own writing, right when I’m trying to be professional. This is what I get for not proofreading. *grin*)

  24. Nyxalinth*

    I admit to wondering why the medical center would hire someone without medical training over anyone who did (I don’t mean just the OP, I also mean anyone else with the training/background for it). I’m not going to dogpile on her–everyone else has already done such a fine job of it that it’s a wonder the poor woman hasn’t suffocated :P.

    I do want to point out that as someone who had been considering schooling for this career path it was a little disappointing to discover that even with training or a certificate I wouldn’t be anymore likely to get a foot in the door. Even so, it did make me reassess my own goals, which is a good thing.

    OP, all I can suggest is move on, and learn from your experience. We all screw up big time now and then. As long as you learn and don’t repeat it, you’ll do fine.

    1. shawn*

      You could easily make a case to hire someone with less relevant experience if the person with more relevant experience is deemed to be not a fit (and fit meaning a whole variety of things). You don’t hire strictly based on resumes, the most qualified candidate doesn’t just get the job. That’s why we interview. It sounds like this person shot herself in the foot numerous times along the way, and probably in additional ways that weren’t mentioned in her letter and not realized by her. Once that happens experience goes out the window. This person wasn’t getting a job there even if she were the only candidate.

    2. Elizabeth*

      I’ve worked in medical offices, and I think it’s more important to have strong organizational skills, people skills, and the ability to learn than to have a strong medical background (for front office people – obviously not for doctors, nurses, etc.). A hair salon receptionist would have many of the necessary skills for scheduling appointments and keeping the calendar straight, and someone who had filed in a lawyer’s office could quickly pick up the filing system for medical charts. The most important thing to learn would be HIPAA laws, but that training would take less than a day. Sure, the best candidate would be someone who had already done that exact job for years, but if no one like that is in the running, experience in a different field is still experience.

    3. fposte*

      I think the question is what training will do for you. It won’t, in a job where many of the tasks are generally learned by experience rather than scholarship, substitute for experience; it looks like the OP was in work for a year and a half in the last eighteen years and it ended some time ago, so her resume is very, very light–basically entry level. It also has to be training that’s valued by the industry you’re aiming for, and it’s not clear that it is here. If you’re looking to get into this field, I would suggest you consult with somebody in the area (preferably somebody hiring) to find out what kinds of training or credentials they *do* value, so that you have something more than the confidence of the people who are trying to sell you the training to go on.

  25. Laura*

    One more thing– by reading the original posters background, I got the feeling she may not live in an urban or large surburban area. For me, it would be silly to only apply to one medical center. There are probably 10 large hospitals within 20 minutes, and tons of other places to apply. I couldn’t believe she had her sites set on only one! However, perhaps this is the only place she can work in a 45 minute radius. If that is the case, maybe we should give her some advice.

    1) as everyone said, maybe a temp agency can get you in somewhere. Perhaps they can get you in the very medical center you want to work at. If you perform, you may be hired. If this is the only center in the area, then it may be the only way, after you may have already hurt yourself with all your follow up.

    2) translating your skills to something else. I know you got a certificate and want to work in a large health center, but perhaps you can use those skills in a small dentist or physical therapists office. Perhaps you can work with the school nurse and get into a local school. I am only making these suggestions in taking into account there may have been only one large medical center in your region.

    If I am wrong, and there are many in your area, it is time to move on. Please, find another one to apply to!

    1. Elizabeth*

      I was thinking this, too. I grew up in a medium-sized city, but one health care system dominated the playing field. (In fact, it’s the largest employer in the city.) However, there are still other primary care physicians and specialists that are not affiliated with that system, but holding private practices – fewer than there were twenty years ago, but still a considerable number. OP, keep your eye on Craigslist and the like for openings at those places – as Laura says, even if they’re not exactly what you’re looking for, they would give you more experience. (And, frankly, having worked for both a giant medical system and for a private office in high school/college, I found the private office had a lot fewer issues than the giant system and was nicer to work for!)

  26. Student*

    You cannot control other people. You can only control yourself.

    You’ve come up with an idea that the people you want to work for might be out to get you. The thing is, that’s irrelevant. They might be out to get you, they might not, and you have no real way of ever knowing. So drop it. The thought will poison your interactions with them, regardless of whether it’s true or not. Thoughts like that motivate you to behave defensively, when you really need to give them the benefit of the doubt to start out with.

    You can’t change them. They might, perhaps, hate you – or there might be something else entirely going on that has nothing to do with you. You can’t control that, but you can control your attitude toward them. You can either go forward acting like they’re out to get you, or you can go forward with as much enthusiasm and optimism as you can muster. It’s a game, a game with high stakes, and you are playing to lose right now – so start playing to win instead.

  27. moe*

    Lots of great advice, especially the suggestion about trying a temp agency.

    I must say it sounds like the HR person isn’t helping things: ‘Well, she e-mailed me back saying, “Thank you for your email. Moving forward, I will contact my managers and see if there is a way we can elevate your application against the other applications being considered.”’

    Assuming that’s an accurate quote–what?! Maybe she’s just trying to placate the OP, but still, that’s a weird thing to tell an applicant who’s already gotten a bit entitled.

      1. Anonymous*

        First of all, I have been misrepresented here. I am a wife and a mother and did go back to college. I finished this past December. I have very good skills, have dealt with the public and I am not a drama person. I am not expecting anything special from anyone. I really do try to treat everyone with respect and that is all I would like also. The quote I stated was sent to me in an e-mail after I let her know how it looked from my viewpoint as an applicant. She did say she was going to contact her managers. I am just someone trying very hard to do the right thing and am not trying to act entitled to anything.

        1. Anonymous*

          Just a heads up – being a wife and mother has absolutely no bearing on a job or how you will handle the position or how any of us feel towards you in terms of helping you.
          With regards to respect – that went out the window. I have gone on interviews, followed-up and never heard back.

          1. Anonymous*

            Sorry, and no being a wife and mother was stated only to say I have a life and have had my share of experiences.

            1. Anonymous*

              I am not a wife nor a mother. Apparently, you feel I am less worthy of having a life or experiences. Or perhaps a position that should go to you because after all you are a wife and a mother, so lets hold the door open for your highness.
              Here is the most helpful advice you will receive. You need to get out of your own way and realize you are the problem in this situation. No one else but you.
              So much for trying to help you.

              1. JPT*

                Gaaaaaaah I hate this. Everyone has a life outside of work. Everyone has a family, in one way or another. It has nothing to do with getting a job. Some of us actively prevented having babies because getting a degree was more important. Others chose to have babies and raise them and not work. Some of those people then decided they wanted to get a degree later on, and that IS amazing. But those people are going to struggle from being out of the workforce while they stayed at home with kids. All of these things are choices. It’s freaking 2012.

              2. Anonymous*

                No, I don’t think my being a wife or mother makes me more or less qualified for anything. Just stated to show I don’t think I am anything special. Good luck with your job search.

        2. ruby*

          >>> I have very good skills, have dealt with the public and I am not a drama person. I am not expecting anything special from anyone<<<

          I know this is likely a very difficult expeience for you. Some of what has been posted here has gotten a little mean but this is the Internet and this place is roughtly 98% less mean than the Internet as a whole. In general, you have gotten a lot of constructive advice – but I understand it's hard to hear.

          I posted that quote above because I understand that is how you see yourself. If you are open to hearing it though, that is not how you are coming across to nearly everyone else here, it seems. As an example, you say you "are not a drama person". That's not grammatically correct. It's "dramatic person" (or in this case "overly dramatic"). And I mention that because one of the things people have mentioned repeatedly is the need to present yourself in a polished and professional way in your writing and in your interactions. Are you open to hearing that your writing skills could stand a little improvement if making that change could improve your odds of getting a job?

          Although you don't think you are expecting anything special or acting entitled, the people here who either are, have been or will be again in the trenches job-hunting and have a lot more current experience at it than you do are telling you that you ARE coming across as entitled and expecting special treatment based on the realities of job-hunting in 2012.

          And grilling current employees about their background, judging them as inferior to you, emailing HR to tell them that afterthis conversation, their questionable hiring practices have you considering whether or not to patronize their business is absolutely NUTS. Regardless of the reaction you got from HR, this is 100 miles outside the bounds of "reasonable job hunting tactics".

          You asked for advice and you got it – if you thought you were doing everything right, why ask for advice in the first place?

          I see a lot of talk in your posts about being a nice person and doing the right thing and being treated nicely by employers and that's just not the langauge people use around job searches and I think they indicate a naive approach to job hunting. It's a pretty brutal process. We all want to be treated with respect in the job search. It's never going to happen. In order to preserve your sanity and minimize the stress of job hunting, you have to let go of fixiating on what the potential employers "should" do and how they "should" treat you. Not to let them off the hook, but to focus on what you can control – your actions.

          If you can detach a bit from feeling attacked and maybe read through some other posts on the site about how to approach the frustrations of job hunting, I think you will find a lot of valuable, practical and actionable advice here.

          1. Peter*

            At the risk of splitting hairs – the use of “drama person” sounds ok to me (like “drama queen”). “Dramatic” suggests larger-than-life behaviour in a particular scene/instance.

      1. Anonymous*

        Please, I am done here. I really don’t think you are wanting to help anyone but maybe your own website.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          OP, I agree with the other commenter who suggested that you go away, cool off, and then come back and re-read all this when you’ve had a chance to calm down. You’re missing out on really valuable information about how you’re coming across to employers, which is key to your ability to get a job.

          Insulting people who are volunteering their time to try to help you is really not doing you any favors.

            1. JPT*

              Well if that’s the case, you’re helping her do so by replying to everything defensively so that each of us comes back 10 times per hour to see what’s new in the thread.

              1. khilde*

                +1

                While I hate to see any threads spiral into ickiness (because I think this blog has a rock solid reputation for being very approachable and friendly overall), it’s so true. This morning I logged in to see what was new and just about fell over when I realized the comment count was into the 300’s!!

            2. Anonymous because I know this is mean...*

              You do realize she offers this service for free, right?

              And that countless people have written in thanking her for her advice because it helped land them a job.

              To say nothing of the free advice on management which improves the management and workplaces – so even people who have never read this blog, and don’t know her name, benefit because of readers becoming better managers?

              Did I mention that she does this for free? Just checking.

              1. Jamie*

                Temporary name from another thread – looks like my lame cover was blown.

                I changed it back before I wrote this post but it didn’t save – sorry about that. I’m okay with putting my name on this one.

                1. Josh S*

                  Honestly, your other comment wasn’t even particularly mean.

                  I mean, c’mon. How hard can it be to order Chinese food?

                2. Just don't want to be searchable...*

                  I don’t like to actively whine about current co-workers in print. Especially as I’ve bought Alison’s management book for the office lending library. Hence my very carefully crafted disguise which fell off mid charade.

                  I don’t want to me called into HR because someone is crying because I outed her difficulty with operating a menu.

                  I actually just don’t want to be pulled up in a search engine. And I know there are treatments for my paranoia – but I do enjoy it. :)

                3. Josh S*

                  I am totally on board with the desire to avoid teh great Google in the sky. Search for my name and nothing related to me appears in the first page of results. I’m glad for that.

        2. Nyxalinth*

          That’s really quite harsh, and untrue. I know you’re feeling disappointed and angry, maybe bitter, too. Getting snotty isn’t going to make you look any better on this, though. It will however cement in everyone’s mind that HR made the right choice.

          Some people are attacking you here, but most are really trying to help.

  28. bingo dauber*

    I work in a hospital and sadly, these certificate programs (medical coding and billing, medical secretary, etc) are a waste of money. You don’t learn enough for hospitals and physician offices to take a chance in hiring you, and unlike a certification (which isnot the same thing as a certificate!!), most people hiring for a medical secretary will not require completion of a certificate program.

    Try widening your job search–apply at insurance companies, billing companies, home health agencies, health departments, medical supply companies, and so on. Look at anything related to healthcare.

  29. Lexy*

    There’s a lot of good advice here, I hope the OP takes the time to wade through it.

    OP, I understand where you’re coming from. Breaking into a new career can be really difficult. Especially administrative type jobs which don’t have a clear entrance path.

    FWIW, the young lady who got the position in your Dr’s office may have a proven experience with high volume admin work, she is probably good at dealing with angry customers, maybe she has experience working for tempermental/difficult bosses. It may be that in a completely fair and objective hiring process those soft skills come out ahead of medical training (which one can receive on the job).

    It’s also possible that she was unfairly hired over you, but it’s honestly a lot less likely than her simply being the best fit for the position.

    If I were you, I would work on finding out what skills are really valued in a medical secretary (not what they told you would be valued when you went through the program, but what hiring managers actually look for). Try a vigorous Google search.

    Once you have a really good idea about what makes a great candidate for a medical secretary, see what you can do about presenting yourself as that applicant
    1) What experience do you have that points to those skills?
    2) What experience can you get? Volunteering counts!

    Relax, rejections suck but they are very rarely about you as an individual. Take deep breaths and find something to distract yourself with.

    Also, given Alison’s nod to the errors in your letter, see about taking a business writing class. Try your local community college (you may be able to take it cheaply by not getting credit) or see if your local library has writing classes.

    1. Anonymous*

      I do not know about any grammatical errors but I do appreciate that. Usually, I am very careful but I don’t see any errors she cleaned up because I have my original letter.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I did significant editing, more than I’ve done on most letters printed here. If you’re not seeing errors in the original one, I’d take that as a sign that you do need a refresher on writing skills. You could paste both into Word documents and do Track Changes/Compare Documents to see exactly what my edits were, and that might help.

  30. Anonymous*

    I noticed no one has mentioned this so far but she needs to consider where she is applying. At a medical institution confidentiality is paramount. She did not like she was not being interviewed, asked the new person about her background, and then told the HR person about this. In the HR persons mind, even though that was not the intention, she is probably being considered as someone who cannot maintain confidentiality especially if she there is a problem.
    It is a hard lesson to learn.

    1. moe*

      Hmm, I don’t really see an expectation of confidentiality with what the front office assistant told her. It’s not any kind of privileged medical information, just chit-chat. (And the HR person presumably already knew the assistant’s background anyway.)

      Not that it wasn’t a bad idea for all sorts of reasons, I just don’t see this being one of them.

      1. Anonymous*

        True, that is not confidential. But it does show how the OP may react, something not to be taken for granted. While the “chit chat” is small and not confidential the bigger issue that she is willing to repeat things that are told to her.

        1. Liz*

          This – everyone who deals with a lot of people can see this coming and most of us know to steer clear. Some people think it is ok to ask questions that show they are looking for some specific piece of info (or maybe they just don’t hide their intent well). You can tell they will repeat te answer and get it wrong and try to get other people upset… Everyone who does this please stop right now ;)

      2. Anonymous*

        Thank you so much. I am a very pleasant, friendly person and I had no way of knowing what the front office person would tell me. I was there as a patient and just wondered what I needed for that particular job. There was no wrong action on my part to ask a question about that.

        1. Anonymous*

          Yes, it was a wrong action to blur the patient-job seeker boundary in that way. I can see asking that question casually in conversation, but then turning around and “confronting” HR with your intel is very odd and unprofessional.

  31. Editor*

    OP — as someone who’s past middle age and who’s been on both ends of this, let me say that you need to be realistic about your qualifications, and that temping would help you be more realistic.

    One of the things employers look for is an ability to learn quickly. When I was in my 20s, I had to train someone who was coming back into the workforce after raising her children, and she couldn’t remember instructions from one day to another. Although I didn’t hire her and couldn’t fire her, I learned that employers who’ve mistakenly hired someone like that don’t want to repeat the experience. Even though I knew not everyone is like her, I still am cautious dealing with applicants who’ve been out of the work force, even when they’re younger than I am.

    Now I’m in my 60s. I think I learn quickly, but a realistic look at my skills shows that there’s a lot I don’t know about common programs, because I’ve worked with specialized software. I lost skills because I wasn’t practicing them all the time. I can talk about InCopy until I’m blue in the face, but if the employer wants Microsoft Word excellence, they won’t want me. Temping will help give you practice, even if it doesn’t give you health insurance and other benefits.

    Finally, life and HR aren’t fair. My children work in HR, and it is totally different than it was when you were 20. Even when a company is trying to hire on the basis of fairness, personalities and other issues will affect the decision. The young woman who worked at a tire place may have been such a genius with spreadsheets or so good at uploading and downloading forms that everyone in the medical office was giddy when she was hired. Don’t quiz her again, and don’t follow up with any HR office unless you are sending a nice, bland thank-you note after an interview.

    If you know someone who’s good with language, have them look at your spelling and grammar, or consider taking a basic writing class at an accredited community college. (An accredited college will tell you they’re accredited, but one clue to accreditation is that four-year colleges, such as state universities, will accept those credits if a student transfers; many course credits earned at technical schools won’t count toward a four-year degree.)

    Finally, I’ll keep you in my thoughts. It is hard to find out that the person you know you are — capable of raising a family and doing many different tasks — is not the first choice when a hiring decision is made.

    1. khilde*

      Best comment yet. Thanks, Editor, for your objective and kind response. And now I appreciate the age diversity on this blog, too! :)

  32. Blue Dog*

    All this drama before you even start. At your interview, you are supposed to be yourself — but a “light” version of yourself. If this is you trying to make your best impression, what happens when you settle in and get comfortable, complacent or cranky. Frankly, you are done at this company and, if you are not careful, you may soon be done in the industry.

    As for why they hired the Tire Shop transplant, it might not be about what she brings to the table, but what she doesn’t. Like baggage. No one wants to invite stuff like this into their house. It is begging for trouble in the future.

    Honestly, there are a lot of people who can do most jobs. So, as a result, EVERYONE applying for any job has an additional requirement of being pleasant, not hard on other staff, and somewhat flexible (especially in this market). Being overly-entitled, difficult, and combative is the best way for even a great candidate to sabotage himself.

    Finally, rather than focusing on being a “middle-aged mom” and assuming it was a detriment, I would spin it on its head and show what you bring to the table as an asset: I am settled and stable; I am not young and flighty; not a big happy hour kinda person; my children are raised; I am not going to be calling in sick every other Friday and taking long vacations; I am easy to get along with and used to being a team player; you can depend on me.

    Good luck.

    1. Anonymous*

      Thank you for your suggestion. Really, I am not the way I was being represented here. I do not cause drama. I am also a settled down person with a family.

      1. Anonymous*

        Please stop referring to your family or the fact that you’re a mom. Do you not understand that it does not matter in the slightest?

        1. Peter*

          Don’t be so mean! She’s just responding to Blue Dog’s post on how to sell herself in an interview.

        2. khilde*

          Anon 7:10 – you appear to be doggedly trying to counteract everything Anonymous OP says. Knock it off. That’s not helping anything. There are others who have managed to provide OP a different (albeit hard to hear) perspective, but have done so in a thoughtful way and tried to explain their reasoning. If your goal is to make OP feel duly punished, then you have done so and need to leave. You’re giving the rest of us who want to give her constructive advice a bad name.

  33. Colette*

    One thing that stood out at me is this: she does things when she wants to and it took her a month to get around to handling my insurance concern.

    Now, I don’t know whether this was something she could have done in 5 minutes or whether she was following up with other people who were out of the office or unresponsive – but neither does OP.

    I’m in customer service (not health related), but if I had a customer who had been a pain to deal with apply for a job, I wouldn’t hire her. I wouldn’t even consider it, because she obviously doesn’t understand that people have multiple priorities and she’s not always #1.

    1. Anonymous*

      Colette, I have worked in customer service at other place too. I understand your viewpoint. This particular manager has took her time helping me with another issue before. The situation I needed her to handle only took 2 weeks tops. The insurance problem had already been turned in wrong by the time she took care of it. She took a month.

      1. Anonymous*

        This paragraph is exactly what AAM was discussing with regards to grammatical issues. It does not make sense and is riddle with errors. Speak your reply to yourself as hearing it may help you understand the problem.

        1. Anonymous*

          Sometimes reading it aloud doesn’t always help either because if people write the way they speak, they won’t hear what is incorrect.

          I know someone who says “I should have did that” all the time. It should be “I should have done that.” Obviously. But I highly doubt if I wrote it down that he would pick it up.

          1. Natalie*

            Homophones can also be tricky if you rely on reading aloud to check your writing. For example, the frequent use of “should of” instead of “should have”.

      2. Colette*

        But … how do you know it took 2 weeks? What were her other priorities? What might she have depended on someone else to do?

        My point here is that it’s absolutely your right to go over her head after a month – and if it was a 5 minute task, that was the right approach. However, if it was a 2 week job (as you say) and she needed to get something from someone who took a week off (or was in charge of a conference or was in a department that was short-staffed due to illness) in that month, going over her head comes across as entitled (which is how your letter reads).

  34. Jamie*

    I would hope the OP does see the value in many of the comments. The phrasing varies, but there is some good advice in here.

    I only have two things to add:
    1. Temping is an awesome way to get your foot in the door when reentering the job market- I cannot stress enough what an excellent option this is for many. I entered the work force officially in my late 30’s – after having been a SAHM for 15 years – I know where of I speak. I owe my entire career to temping.

    2. Everyone makes mistakes when they are new to the game, or reentering after a time out. So instead of worrying about burned bridges I would focus on the fact that there are a lot of other employers out there who will never hear of this. Every submission of resume is a blank slate. I have done most of my learning from mistakes, I’m always going to make them…I just try not to make the same one twice. Keeps it interesting.

    1. Natalie*

      Hell, temping can be a great way to enter the job market at any age. I got my job (where I was just promoted) through a temp agency right after college.

  35. Anonymous*

    I am the lady that asked this question. First, I don’t believe you really understood I do not think I am entitled to anything. I do believe every applicant deserves to be treated with respect. I did not intend to imply I thought I thought I deserved anything more than anyone else. You do not know me, yet you are the one to assume things not true about me. I have never been difficult at any job or cranky or not willing to take no for an answer. I think you are very judgmental and personally I would never treat anyone the way you assumed about me. Sorry, everyone isn’t as perfect as you. Some of us are just trying our best and to sometimes it is hard.

    1. Anonymous*

      The problem with you saying this: I did not intend to imply I thought I thought I deserved anything more than anyone else. You do not know me, yet you are the one to assume things not true about me.

      Is that you said this in your note: I came home at sent the HR lady a very nice and super polite email stating that I was a patient there and that I found out someone was recently hired without any clinical experience and it made me reevaluate this health system as a whole.

      The automatic assumption is going to be that indeed you felt you deserved it more than the other girl. Now that might not have been your intention but that is 100% the way it looks fair or not.

      We are all trying our best. I’ve applied for hundreds and hundreds of jobs, have interviewed, and nothing. It is frustrating, upsetting, and so so hard. So I do understand. But we are only trying to help you see how it looks from the other perspective.

      1. Anonymous*

        I hope you get what job you are looking for soon. I know sometimes it is easy to assume about someone you don’t know. I do not believe I implied to the HR lady I was entitled. I am not. I do believe everyone (no matter who they are) are entitled to kindness and respect.

        1. K Too*

          OP you need to take it down a notch. You came to AAM for her advice and she’s provided you with sound advice. Perhaps AAM sounds “judgemental” to you because of her blunt advice.

          Reading through all of these posts, you’ve gone from 0 to 60 on the defensive scale. What does being a mother and nice to everyone have to do with you not getting the position?

          Listen life sucks sometimes and searching for a job in this economy especially sucks.

          You have to have a stronger, better attitude in regards to rejections. The hospital chose someone that they thought was fit for the position. You should leave it at that and move on. Why are you so stuck on this employer? Are you in a small town where there are no other options?

          You do need to work on your grammar. I’ve noticed grammatical errors in your responses.

          If the responses to your comments sound snarky, it’s because the posters are frustrated at your lack of understanding as to how the hiring process works AND your overall attitude towards Alison’s advice.

          You are not going to hear what you WANT to hear on this board.

          As much as I hate the word “entitled” being thrown around a lot these days, the truth of the matter is that you did come across as entitled and naive. You judged the new hire based on her credentials and then crossed a boundary by questioning HR. Having a certificate does not always mean you will get the job you want.

          I just became re-employed again after being out of work for 1.5 years. Let me tell you it is tough out there. You have to grow a backbone and keep it moving. Rejection hurts, but it will make you stronger in the end.

          Keep looking. Hopefully you will come around and accept Alison’s advice.

          1. Anonymous*

            To K-Too: I am glad you found a job. Yes, I guess I am very naive about looking for a job. I am not a tough person and I really am serious when I say I would never be unkind or hurtful to anyone. I did not send any e-mail that had anything in it suggesting I was entitled to anything. I pretty much figured there was not any bridge to burn there after one year trying. Obviously, it is easy for people to assume things about someone they don’t know. But after crying after reading this post today, I won’ t be writing anyone for help again.

            1. K Too*

              It’s good that you asked for AAM’s advice. Look at the responses you received. The advice that’s given to you is to help you learn about job seeking situations. I’m sure that most of us on this board have all had that one job rejection that made us bitter, angry and depressed.

              Don’t victimize yourself. Learn from this situation. What’s happened has happened and it’s done. I would advise you to read more of Alison’s tips on interviewing and job hunting.

              We are not trying to be mean and put you down. What you’re reading is tough love.

              In the meantime, work on turning a negative into a positive. A job will come around, but you must work on the Self first. Start applying at other places and make sure you proofread your resume and cover letters for correct grammar.

              Good luck!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Thanks for weighing back in, OP. But I think you’re missing a point that it’s really important for you to get if you’re going to have a successful job search: Whether or not you feel entitled isn’t as important as whether or not you’re coming across as entitled. And it’s not just me telling you that you’re coming across that way; you have dozens of people right here in this comment section all telling you that you are indeed coming across that way. I don’t think a single person commenting here disagreed.

      This is really important information, especially if it’s inconsistent with what you intend. In hiring, employers only know how you present yourself, and how you’re perceived is everything.

      You’re welcome to decide that I’m judgmental (although frankly your response was pretty rude to someone who tried to help you), but you’ll do yourself a real disservice if you don’t pay attention to what I and other people are telling you here.

      1. Anonymous*

        I am the author of this question. I have never felt or expressed entitlement to anything in my life. I am a wife and mother and have worked hard all my life. I went back to college to improve and I will always be respectful to everyone. I have been polite and professional in every job search. I have never treated anyone mean. I was asking an honest question from you. Yes, you do come across to me as judgmental.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Okay, I’m getting fed up. You asked for advice and you got it. You have a bunch of strangers with no agenda telling you that you are coming across a certain way, and you’re getting pissed off about it. None of us here have any stake in your job search, but you do — and you’re squandering this opportunity to learn something valuable about how people perceive the way you come across, as least in writing and in professional contexts. I was on your side until reading the comments you’re leaving here — now you just seem like you’re determined to close out any feedback that isn’t positive and validating.

          Also, you keep leading with the “I’m a wife and mother” thing, but it will do you no favors in professional contexts. You’ve got to present yourself as a professional if you want to have a successful job search. References to being a wife and mother have no place in professional discussions like this.

          Hiring is about being judgmental, by the way.

          1. JPT*

            AGREED… What do we do when we get a giant stack of resumes and applications if not make quick judgments to narrow? Then, when interviewing, you probably have a small number of candidates that all have similar qualifications on paper… and you meet with them for a small amount of time, and make a judgment as to who’s best.

            I would suggest the OP cool off and read some of the advice on here later… there is a ton of good stuff. If you’re not getting the job you want the way you’ve been doing things, regardless of whether you agree with these comments, you have work to do to make yourself a better candidate. And there’s nothing to be ashamed about; tons of people have made mistakes like this. When I was right out of college I once called someone every day to find out if I got a job I interviewed for, to the point that I think she pretended to be on vacation. Thinking of that today makes me cringe.

          2. Nodumbunny*

            +1 on the wife and mother advice…I’m a wife and mother too, and professionally that qualifies me for precisely nothing. I know you’re proud of being a wife and mother but seriously, leave it out of your attempts to re-enter the workforce except as an explanation – if asked – for the gap in your employment history.

          3. Anonymous*

            You do not have to be on my side. I only stated being a wife and mother to state I am just like everyone else. Not special or entitled like you have tried to make me sound. Yes, I do appreciate feedback, yes I do need good job advice. I do not believe you represented me accurately. You did judge me and you sound mad because I told you about it. I have worked hard to do right with everyone all my life. I am not someone that thinks they deserve anything. I only wrote you to ask a question I did not expect to be a thread in your website. I do not do things to be difficult, I appreciate some good advice from some of the people that wrote. I wish them well on their job search. You can help people but not tear them down. Especially people you do not know. Walk a mile in my shoes. I think you come across trying to just keep this thread going. I really only wanted your opinion not a judgment about my character.

            1. Anonymous*

              And yet again, you do not see the wife and mother thing because you stated…I am just like everyone else. You are not like everyone else. We are all a wonderful bunch of different backgrounds. Some mothers, some single, some fathers, some gay, some straight. We are not everyone else.
              The Disclaimer from AAM. Disclaimer: I can’t answer every question that I receive, but I’ll do my best to answer as many as I can get to. Questions that are more than a few paragraphs have less chance of being answered. Be aware that any question you submit may be published here.
              So if you really did not expect to be a thread than you either a) did not read through things carefully b) do your research on this site first and/or c) assumed you were entitled to something different.

            2. anonymous (not OP)*

              just to join the chorus…

              1) “I only stated being a wife and mother to state I am just like everyone else.” not everyone is a wife/mother (or spouse/parent, even). I realize this seems like nitpicking but it also demonstrates your willingness to view things only through the lens of yourself.

              2) “I do not believe you represented me accurately.” she published the letter that you wrote. you’re the one who represented yourself. arguably, she represented a better version of you, since I believe her when she says she cleaned up your email.

              3) “I am not someone that thinks they deserve anything.” well, you felt you deserved a position, or at least another interview, with this company–particularly ahead of the former-tire-store-employee girl. that’s why you wrote in, right?

              4) “I only wrote you to ask a question I did not expect to be a thread in your website.” do you read AAM? every post has a thread. not all of them get as heated as this one, but not every advice-seeker gets so defensive when they read the advice that they wrote in to receive.

              5) “I really only wanted your opinion not a judgment about my character.” this is precisely the point: none of us can judge your character beyond the information you’ve given us. which is exactly what’s in play during the hiring process. you asked, in a nutshell: “why am I not getting further in my job search?” AAM, & others, responded: “well, it could be because you’re not as effective in showcasing your strengths as you could be. specifically, you may want to improve your written communication, reconsider your approach toward contacts with potential employers, & focus on your professional accomplishments instead of your familial ones.” you’re the one who chose to take that as a personal attack.

              but, regardless, I hope you can eventually come to realize that, if so many people are taking issue with the way you’re presenting yourself, clearly something isn’t working (however right/wrong or “fair” that may or may not be). job searching is all about making a good impression, & you’ve definitely made a pretty negative one on the readers of this website. however you feel about that, it’s the truth.

              &, honestly, what else did you expect? AAM’s been much harsher to previous advice-seekers, & they’ve jumped into the comments to thank her for the wake-up call. in your case, it’s beginning to sound more & more like you wrote in because you hoped she’d would say “oh heavens, how unfair!”–& now you’re venting your frustration that it didn’t turn out that way.

              1. Jamie*

                “because you hoped she’d would say “oh heavens, how unfair!””

                What that is Alison’s reply to anything we will know the apocalypse is near.

                Seriously, I’m picturing her in a Miss Manners chignon fanning herself answering letters on parchment with a quill pen.

                As I was typing this two people stuck their heads in my office to see what was so funny. I cannot stop laughing.

                1. Kelly O*

                  Is it bad that when you painted that lovely visual (thanks, by the way) I also pictured Frankenfoot all propped up? Maybe with truffles or something?

                  Like AAM really sits around watching Ryan’s Hope reruns and is just yanking our collective chain with this whole “Awesome Management Blogger” thing.

            3. fposte*

              You know it’s okay to be mad, right? You’re allowed to be mad that you didn’t get the job that you wanted to get, and Alison’s allowed to be mad that you’re complaining about getting answers.

          4. AB*

            I hesitate to add yet another comment to this all, but I can only guess that, as a wonderful mother to your children, you have taught them the age-old (and often cliche) advice that “you only have one chance to make a first impression.” You don’t get the opportunity to come back and stick up for yourself to hiring managers if your original message is misconstrued. You had your one shot.
            Assuming you reached out to Alison for her (FREE!) assistance because you saw that she offered insightful advice that others were benefitting from, you should have also seen that there are thousands upon thousands of people looking for jobs right now. Numbers are the enemy. It’s easier said than done, but STOP taking it so personally and just learn from each step of the process.

        2. ruby*

          Every time you mention being a wife and mother, you raise a red flag for pretty much everyone here. It has ZERO to do with what is being discussed and ZERO bearing on how you conducted yourself in this work-related situation you wrote in about orwith how you are acting in this thread. Again, if you are open to hearing it, it is coming across as odd and inappropriate and it’s displaying an inability to grasp how others perceive your actions.

    3. moe*

      I don’t see how anyone treated you with disrespect in this situation. Quite the opposite–you treated the poor office assistant abominably.

      If we all misread what really occurred, you may want to consider that your writing could be ineffective at delivering your point. Which is a big problem in any job, and certainly as a secretary.

      1. Anonymous*

        The office assistant would probably tell you different. I only asked a question to see what experience I might be lacking. I asked when I was a patient there. I hope Moe you never have anyone treat you like this. I am done here.

        1. Anonymous*

          Yes, but then you turned it around and in effect said she did not have the skills or prerequisites to be in that position. Again, perhaps not your intention but that is how you are being perceived.

          Do you see the connection…your intent and actual perception are not working for you.

          1. Anonymous*

            I did not say anyone did not have the skills. I stated by what the HR lady said to me that they hired someone without clinical experience. I really hope everyone on here gets a good job. I appreciate good feedback but if you really knew me I do not come across personally like this. I would never be mean to anyone. I am a Southern girl and kindness and manners are very important. I was hurt but not angry.

            1. Anonymous*

              Hi Anon – as a non-American I have no real idea what consitutes a ‘Southern Girl’ (except films, and I’m guessing that’s none too accurate), but honestly, from your responses, kindness and manners don’t come over as top of the list. Sending an email that’s worded politely doesn’t mean it is polite or kind – in fact, if the wording is kind but the content is less so then it can come across as a super-sarky attempt to be clever. Disclosure – I’m English so sarky politeness is entirely fine, and virtually an Olympic sport, but maybe it doesn’t play so well in the South? And you do not sound as though you appreciate good feedback. If you did, you wouldn’t be hitting back at all the good and valid feedback you’ve been given. Some – mine included – may be less constructive, but there’s a lot of great stuff on here, and in some cases – mine included- where it’s less so, it’s from frustration at the fact that you aren’t seeming to hear what’s being said. As many other commenters have said, go away, cool off a bit, and come back and read it. And take on board some of the best advice you’ve had hear, which Anon at 2.39 May 16 summarised perfectly:
              “I think a good lesson for you is to not send or post things you’ve written while feeling hurt or angry, because they don’t paint you in the best light”.
              Write it down though, and read it when you are less upset. It may help you understand where you are going wrong in your communications.

    4. Anon*

      “Sorry, everyone isn’t as perfect as you.”

      OP – you’re clearly hurt and upset by some of the things people have posted, and I can see why. But your response here is precisely the kind of thing that is not helpful in your job search. Your “polite” email to HR was probably also written in hurt or anger, and might not have come across as polite at all (the part about reevaluating their health system? yeah, that probably wasn’t taken well). I think a good lesson for you is to not send or post things you’ve written while feeling hurt or angry, because they don’t paint you in the best light.

      1. LN*

        I completely agree. The job market now is frustrating and it can really wear you down, especially when you are trying to re-enter the workforce after years out of it. However, this is a great learning experience for the OP if she can accept the feedback. I don’t think anyone is trying to misrepresent her or insult her, but there are definitely things that she needs to change about her approach and can.

    5. BCW*

      Your response makes you sound even more like you think you’re entitled. You have someone who is giving you advice from a managers perspective, and you choose to counter that advice by insulting them, similar to basically what you did by saying the person they hired instead of you was less qualified.

      Furthermore, as AAM said, your grammar was not very good. If that is how your cover letter and resume is presented, its not surprising that people wouldn’t seriously consider you for an administrative position. Maybe English isn’t your first language, so its a bit more understandable. However, you need to make sure all of those things are polished if you want to even get a chance for an interview.

      Are you originally from America? If not, it may just be that culturally you have different norms in terms of job hunting than we have here.

      1. Anonymous*

        I had a friend in HR review my resume and coverletter and my husband who is in management. They all gave it a thumbs up and I do appreciate you asking that question.

        1. Anonymous*

          Judging by how you react to feedback here, it’s possible they gave you the “thumbs up” on your resume and cover letter to avoid hurting your feelings.

          I’ve had a question responded to on here before when I required a “wake-up call”, was it fun to read? No. It was hard to turn around and look at myself from that perspective, but once I did and took the advice of Alison and other posters I became much more successful in my job search and landed my dream job.

          I’m not saying you should listen to every piece of advice you encounter, but commentors here have great suggestions and are worth listening to.

          Also consider that, while you might not agree, the majority of the people reading this comment section read your posts as rude and defensive although you state you are not trying to be. You may want to examine your communication skills, because even though it’s not intended, that is how you are coming off.

    6. Liz*

      I know it is hard and I know you intended to send a “nice note.”

      I think what people are trying to tell you – and I hope you’ll give the commenters the same benefit of the doubt you deserve from us – is that you can change the way you introduce yourself and that will change the results you’re getting in a very frustrating situation.

      When I go home to the small town where I’m from, every woman introduces herself with something like, “I’m a mom.” Or “I’m a wife and mother.” It shows that you can take care of people, and that you have an interest in protecting the community. It represents a LOT of hard work. It automatically generates respect.

      When I go back to the office, women who are moms are still given a lot of respect and have a lot of chances to bond over their shared experiences. But they don’t introduce themselves that way. They introduce themselves with their professional role first, and leave everything personal out of it. They’ll say, “I’m the project manager” or “I’m in communications.”

      That’s what works in the business world, but if that same person then went back to my small town and introduced herself in church on Sunday with, “I’m in communications” people would feel put off.

      So all people are trying to say, the same way you were trying to talk to the HR manager, is that there is another way to present yourself that will definitely be more effective. I’m sorry if any of us came off as disrespectful in trying to convey that message.

    7. Diane*

      You’re taking these comments very personally. I know it hurts to hear that you’re perceived as entitled or pushy when you honestly don’t feel that way, or that you’re perceived as less qualified than someone else when you’ve worked hard. But it hurts a whole lot worse if you don’t listen and reflect honestly on the advice here and try to make some changes. Why? Because if you don’t make changes to your expectations and attitudes, you’ll keep getting the same result. Trust me–I take things personally. My feelings get hurt if I hear (or think I hear) that I’m not doing it right, even if I’m trying. But none of us is born perfect–life is about learning and changing, or about being stuck.

      I know it’s easier to hear that you’re doing everything right and you’re a victim of bad luck and cold employers, but it’s more empowering to understand you are NOT a victim, and there are things you can do to improve your chances in this very tough market.

      This advice may sting, probably because it’s hitting a sore spot. But a flailing job search will sting far more. Listen. Polish your writing skills. Control your defensive reaction. Apply for other jobs and get transferable experience, including temping. Read AAM’s archives about how to be a good coworker and how to write a great cover letter. When you’re ready to hear it, ask for some honest feedback about other ways to present yourself as the polished, mature, reliable professional you absolutely can be.

  36. Anonymous*

    I do appreciate helpful suggestions. My computer has been giving me some issues today, sorry for any computer errors.

    1. moe*

      One last thought, OP: is English your first language? Some of your turns of phrase are a bit unusual for a native speaker, and I’m wondering if cultural issues might be playing a role.

      1. Jamie*

        I was wondering the same thing, as it sounds like a second language to me as well.

        However, I wouldn’t assume it would be cultural issues as much as communication issues.

        She said she was done, but for the archives…in admin positions the ability to communicate well in writing is huge. Odd syntax, phrasing, what have you, can be less of an issue verbally – but in writing it will kill your chances.

        I’ve worked with administrative staff where you can just say “shoot an email to so and so about the blue gravy boats” and you don’t have to proof it because you know it will be professionally written. I’ve worked with others where you had to tell them line by line what needed to be said and how to phrase it – and it’s just easier to do it myself.

        If it is an ESL issue, a lot of communities have free programs to help with this very thing. I can’t speak to more rural environments, but the urban areas definitely would.

      2. Anonymous*

        That is very sweet. No, I am a good old American girl. I am a Southern girl though.

        1. Jamie*

          I would strongly recommend a course in written communication. You will improve your odds by orders of magnitude if you improve your writing.

  37. NonProfiter*

    I’ll just chime in and say to the OP: I’ve been in your shoes. I mean, I have never literally asked someone who got a job I wanted what their qualifications are, but I’ve done something similar, i.e. look up the person who got the job on LinkedIn and make comparisons to my background. The thing is, I recognize that whatever their qualifications, as bitter as I may be, the person who hired them had their reasons and I can’t know what they are.

    The thing is, asking someone what their qualifications are and then telling HR that they hired someone less qualified than you: you can’t do that. You just can’t.

    Also, do sign up for a temp service or ask if there is an *internal* temp service at your target employer. (But recognize you may have completely burned the HR there at this point). My spouse works at a huge medical university/hospital/clinic branches institution and I know no less than four people who started as admin type temps in the org’s *internal* temp service, who ended up with full time work within a year.

    1. Anonymous*

      I worked as a volunteer at this hospital for four months this past fall. The volunteer director there told me to use her as one of my references. I also am a personal friend with one of the nurse practitioner’s on staff. I have previous hospital training and experience doing this job before my children in another state. They are not hiring temps right now, they had to let some people go in the department I volunteered with. That would have been nice.

    2. JPT*

      “I’ve done something similar, i.e. look up the person who got the job on LinkedIn and make comparisons to my background. ”

      I have TOTALLY done this! If I found out someone else got a job I wanted, I’m like “pssh I’m gonna stalk this %^#$ and see if he/she is really better than me!” Typically I’ll see they have something I don’t, or a different type of experience. Or, I know I’m more qualified, and chalk it up to other factors. Maybe they interviewed better. Maybe I said something awkward. Etc. So yeah I would totally try to find out more about the person who got the job… but never MENTION that to HR or ANYONE ELSE at the company!

      1. NonProfiter*

        But you know, it’s helpful and informative to this kind of “stalking” because I’ve learned from it. Usually I do this only when I’ve gotten an interview but not an offer. (Thanks to AAM and my spouse’s advice, I’ve gotten interviews at probably 90% of the places I’ve applied to in the past. The secret? Don’t apply for jobs you don’t want or aren’t/are over qualified for!)

        I’ve learned from doing this research that the people who ultimately get hired often don’t have the qualifications (on paper) that the job posting called for. This did teach me to stretch myself just a little bit in applying. When an org had an opening that I “technically” didn’t qualify for, I applied anyway, knowing my fit would probably be more important. I was right, got the job, negotiated my salary, nearly doubling it between jobs.

        1. Jamie*

          This x a million. When I was last in between jobs I started out applying for only things I could clear in street shoes skill wise. I got exactly zero replies to had to be 100 resumes shot out into oblivion. (To be fair this was before I read AAM so my ineptude was understandable.)

          I got to the point where I was so discouraged and started applying to jobs for which my old boss would have hired me. I know that doesn’t make sense, but I just knew he had a lot of faith in me and so I decided to apply for jobs he would see me in – and lose my approach of going on closer to entry level and trying to move up once I’m in the door.

          I figured I was already do bummed the worst that could happen is that I’d get rejected from better paying jobs. That day I sent out 5 resumes > got three interviews > went to two (one had on-street parking. It’s my dealbreaker) and when the other job called to set up a second interview I had already accepted the first offer.

          Seriously – be realistic as you don’t want to waste their time if the skill level isn’t there – but if you feel it’s a file level wise and you can pick up the particulars go and apply.

          The worst that can happen is you get rejected from better paying jobs, right?

          1. Josh S*

            I find it HILARIOUS that on-street parking is your deal-breaker. You’d be hard-pressed to find an office job in Chicago (where I live) that actually *has* a free parking lot. Public Transportation FOR THE WIN!

            1. Jamie*

              I found one – and in Chicago! I make the commute every day from the ‘burbs…don’t mind the Stevenson in rush hour but I do need a parking lot when I get here :)

              1. Josh S*

                Well, your packets are swishing, you’ve got free parking in the City, and the sun is shining. Can’t get much better than that!

                1. Josh S*

                  Yay for Chicago. Hi Rana!

                  What do *you* do?

                  Jamie is in IT of some form or fashion (I don’t understand it all particularly well, but she says her packets are swishing good).
                  I’m strategic business consulting and market research analyst on a freelance basis.

                  We could have a meetup someday…

                2. Jamie*

                  Alison has enough fans, we should do an AAMCon. Like ComicCon with less costumes.

                  McCormick Place could work. I’d love to see the t-shirt vendor booth selling stuff with AAM slogans:

                  “You are not in a brothel line-up. You’re in a two-way business discussion.” would be a best seller.

                  I hope there would also be a booth selling Chocolate Teapots.

                  (And my particular form and fashion of IT is as CIO in manufacturing.)

                3. Ry*

                  Jamie’s swishing packets are still killing me. I imagine them sauntering about fabulously delivering their little messages. On some sort of tiny e-catwalk.

                  Sorry; derail over.

                4. Rana*

                  I’m in the area of scholarly support: editing, researching, indexing… that sort of thing. :)

                  Meet-up would be cool!

          2. Kelly O*

            You know, this is really an awesome bit of advice and something I’d not really considered. I think to a point we buy the whole idea of “you MUST meet this criteria or you’re wasting my time.”

            Maybe if I start thinking a bit outside my box I might have better luck. I like the idea of thinking about what a boss who believes in you would say you could do, and it’s a very -much appreciated bit of food for thought.

            1. NonProfiter*

              It’s always a fine line in deciding what to shoot for in job applications, but yes, stretching yourself a bit is key.

              In the hiring I’ve done, I can often see why someone unqualified would apply for an opening or see why they think they’re qualified. I can speak more strongly to the non-profit field, but for example: if you’re in fundraising and are trying to get a job in programs with no experience in programming except the fact that you’re in the non-profit field, well, no, your resume probably isn’t going into the “yes” pile.

              But if you’re in programming and there’s a director level program position open that you aren’t “technically” qualified for, like they want supervisory experience or a certain number of years you don’t have, then you still should maybe shoot for it if you think you are a strong applicant for other reasons *and can make the case for yourself in the cover letter.*

              I don’t know how anyone can move up without doing this.

              1. Jamie*

                “But if you’re in programming and there’s a director level program position open that you aren’t “technically” qualified for, like they want supervisory experience or a certain number of years you don’t have, then you still should maybe shoot for it if you think you are a strong applicant for other reasons *and can make the case for yourself in the cover letter.*”

                This is especially true in IT where often the ads are written by someone who is asking for 5 years experience for an application which has only been in use for 3. It happens all. the. time. So you have to try to read between the lines and see if it’s a fit skill level wise – if so you have nothing to lose. Maybe they toss your resume, maybe they pass it on to someone who can actually vet an IT applicant properly and you might get a call.

                1. Anonymous*

                  I wish more hr people thought that way. But te reality is most do not. All I have been is pigeon holed as have most other people I know. For example I have done admin in a finance division but have been told I cannot do admin in a non profit or retail or any other division, only finance. So sometimes going a little outside of the box automatically puts you in the no pile.

                2. Jamie*

                  Sure, there is a chance you will get put into the ‘no’ pile for any number of reasons. You might not get an interview.

                  But it’s a 100% guarantee that you won’t get the interview if you never apply, so it doesn’t hurt to try. It is certainly improving your odds up from zero.

                3. Anonymous*

                  Yes but now we have conflicting advice. First it is do not apply for so many jobs in a company because you will prove ally be blackballed, but then apply for jobs slightly for a stretch but then again possible blackballed for applying for something you do not qualify for and wasting hrs time.
                  For a person trying their hardest to apply for a job I am at my wits end. Not every person is the same so I cannot know if the hr person will fix them to be a good thing or a bad thing. Will they blackball me or recommend me. It is a fine line that truly makes for extreme frustration and a personal hell with many nights of crying. Of course I keep trying, there is no choice.

                4. Jamie*

                  I was referring to opening up the range of the type of jobs for which people are applying – I wasn’t talking about multiple jobs at the same company.

                  The advice isn’t conflicting – it’s all valid and needed to be applied depending on the circumstances of each job.

                  The same applies for applying multiple times. Some government jobs, for example, can have hundreds of admin positions open at the same time…people can and do apply for multiple positions because I’m looking for an Admin I position and that have 12 of these open I would submit to all which are conveniently located. That’s not held against you – it’s expected.

                  Private companies where you’re consistently reapplying without significant change to your skill or experience is completely different.

                  Like most things, what can be the right advice in one circumstance can be the wrong course of action in another.

                  If I gave someone directions to get to my house they would be correct. If they used them to try to get to khilde’s house, they would be incorrect. (Unless she is secretly living in my family room, in which case, could you please pick up in there? I’ve been blaming the kids for the mess:))

                  The application of advice is situational. That is what makes job hunting a frustrating experience – because you’re trying to optimize for scenarios without having all the data available to you.

                5. khilde*

                  Jamie – the mess could easily be mine. :) My husband says that every time I come home from work-related travel he can tell where I’ve been by my Hansel-and-Gretel-esque trail of stuff I leave behind me as soon as I get in the door.

    3. Piper*

      Oh, I’ve totally done the LinkedIn stalking thing. It’s frustrating to see someone who only has 2 years of experience or experience in something completely unrelated to take a job away from you, but despite that, it’s never appropriate to contact HR about it and tell them you now question their entire organization. That makes you look a little unhinged and will send any subsequent resumes from you immediately to the circular file.

      OP, you’ve gotten a lot of great advice here and I do hope you can sit down and really look at it more objectively. The point here isn’t how you feel or how you think you feel, it’s how you’re being perceived by others. Perception is reality.

  38. Laura*

    To the original poster…

    You have quite a bit of “fight” in you. That passion will get you far in life in some things, and not in others.

    1) Being a wife and mother is a wonderful thing for your family. It doesn’t help in job search (in fact, if anything it hurts. sometimes you are discriminated against for it, if it is a job with long hours, etc). However, you can stop saying it now. we get the point. you have kids.

    2) You posted a comment. everyone gave you great advice. some people were unnecessarily hard on you. I gave you some great advice about temp agencies, looking outside large centers, etc. However, when I came back to read the comments, all I saw were you telling people that they are wrong, not respectful, and that you are a wife and mother.

    Interestingly enough, when someone in HR told you no, you went back to her to tell her that “her organization needs to be re-evaluated”. You have officially done the same thing twice.

    You may not draw similarities between the two situations, but there are. You may not realize you come across this way, but you do. I bet you are a wonderful woman with solid college skills. You have a lot of drive (to go back to college), and you follow through with your dreams. You dont take no for an answer. There are great personality traits.

    However, you are coming across as having the “pushy” and “combative” personality traits too. This may not be in your personality at all! However, we are noticing it. Therefore, just be careful in how you choose your words so it doesn’t come across in job search.

    I am on your side! I believe it is possible some unfair hiring practices went on. However, do your part by making sure your personality and skills are up to par, and after that, you can’t do anything else! We are at the mercy of hiring managers. It sucks, but it is life.

    1. Anonymous*

      Laura, I am sure I have come across different from what I am here. Yes, we are at the mercy of a lot of things. I only mentioned my kids because I want to come across like I really am. I am a person that is just trying to do all they know to do. Nothing special.

      1. Laura*

        I believe that. You do sound like a nice woman, with great skills in the field.

        Sift through these comments. Don’t bother with the ones that are hurting your feelings for no reason. But listen to Alison’s and some of the others, that give straight feedback such as looking at other places, thinking about what type of words you use in interviews and correspondance, and looking into a temp agency.

        We are all rooting for you!

        1. Anonymous*

          Laura, thank you for your post. I don’t think I am going to write anyone again for job advice. I have cried a lot today over complete strangers. I am not pushy at all. I appreciate you being kind. Thank you.

          1. SJ*

            When you say things like that, it sounds like what people are saying came as such a shock to you that it reduced you to tears. This suggests to me – as does much of what you’ve written – that your capacity for self-reflection is somewhat underdeveloped. You’ve repeatedly played the role of the innocent victim/martyr, and the fact that you don’t realize this – “But after crying after reading this post today, I won’ t be writing anyone for help again” – is only going to work against you. That tendency is something that people react very negatively to, because you absolve yourself of all responsibility for your issues by playing dumb or remaining oblivious. Obviously, there are outside factors that contribute to a situation, but YOU decide your own level and type of involvement. Try not to view what I’m saying here as an attack on you, but try to stop and consider whether there’s any truth to it. This isn’t a value judgment, it’s an observation about behavior – even if I’m 100% accurate that isn’t necessarily indicative of who you are, just your behavior.

            Lots of people here are trying to give you constructive feedback. Some are being assholes. Feedback can be hard to hear, but it can also prove tremendously helpful.

      2. Malissa*

        That’s it I finally figured out what bugged me about the wife and kids comment! It is how you identify yourself. Which is great when around your husband and your kids. It’s not so great when looking for a job. The employer is going to want to know who you are as a person, not in relation to another person.

  39. shawn*

    The responses from the OP throughout the comments solidify AAM’s original take on the situation. While possibly well-intentioned, the OP is clearly rough around the edges with regards to painting a positive professional image.

    Getting a job is all about making people want to hire you. The OP has done exactly the opposite here. From the comments I would, rightly or wrongly, form the opinion that the OP lacks professionalism, is argumentative, lacks interpersonal skills, lacks self reflection, is defensive, would be difficult to work with, and lacks polished writing skills. If that’s what you are showing to employers, and it sounds like you are, no one is going to want to hire you.

    I’m sure this is difficult information to hear. However, this is real feedback that someone can use to better themselves. Getting upset and reacting poorly is just continuing a streak of behavior that won’t get you a job. If you can’t take feedback from an online resource how the heck can you do it in a professional environment?

      1. TW*

        How can you say that? Shawn’s advice was an excellent reflection of the picture you are painting to others. Your response was rude and innappropriate, especially for someone trying to be a medical secretary. Secretaries often create the first impression a patient has with a service and being terse just is not allowed. And it does not help your cause to argue with someone that you are not argumentative.

      2. Just some person*

        Shawn’s advice was spot on. It covers everything that has crossed my mind as I’ve been reading this thread.

        OP, if you’re serious about re-entering the workforce, you’re going to have to learn to accept feedback and criticism. Obviously, you’re free to disagree with any and all feedback, but taking the time to *TRY* to see things from a different perceptive is the first step you need to take here.

        In the workforce, it’s common for members for the same team to disagree on work related matters. It’s part of the team dynamic.

  40. fposte*

    OP, what I’m still missing from you is any awareness that you were flawed in your job approach–and if you don’t admit the weaknesses, how are you going to improve them? One of the great adult skills is recognizing the difference between stuff that happens because of our own behavior and stuff that happens because the world is unpredictable (or mean). You can actually make yourself a much stronger candidate, but you have to be willing to face the weaknesses you brought to this situation.

    You can be a fine human being (and wife and mother) and still need to improve before somebody will hire you. That’s not the fault of the place you hope to work, and it’s not unfair.

    1. Jamie*

      I read that and flashed on Dwight Shrute – I could totally see him doing a PSA about Creed and Meredith.

      Well done!

      1. Ellen M.*

        Thanks!

        Seriously, I advise job hunters of all ages and I think millenials often get a bad rap. Entitled behavior is common in all age groups, and and I have counseled millenials who did not act entitled at all.

        millennial job seekers who do not think or behave that way at all.

  41. Ellen M.*

    After I posted my comment above I went through and read all the other comments.

    OP, if you want to be taken seriously as an applicant and in the workplace, stop mentioning that you are a wife and mother and referring to yourself as a “girl” (Southern or otherwise) or “middle-aged Mom” or other role outside of work.

    Whether you are presenting these things as excuses or think you are bragging, they are unprofessional, and reveal only your own preoccupation with how you think you are perceived and your inexperience in a professional setting.

    Imagine a male applicant repeatedly referring to himself as a “husband and father”. Weird. And irrelevant.

    1. JPT*

      Yes… this is exactly why I refrain from mentioning to potential employers that I have a husband, a dog and three cats. Who. Cares. It’s only mentioned in the context of conversation (i.e. if they ask what I do in my spare time or I can tell they’re trying to decipher whether I’m likely to ever move away) and minimally if at all. Instead, I focus on projects I’ve completed, professional successes, examples of when I’ve done certain things they want for the position, etc.

      1. Jamie*

        “I have a husband, a dog and three cats. Who. Cares”

        I would, actually. No, not during the hiring process…but if you were my co-worker and I knew you had a dog and three cats I would be predisposed to like you.

        And as much as I could within ethical bounds I would prioritize your IT issues.

        Yes, I also live with dogs and a clouder – why do you ask? :)

      2. Piper*

        I have to admit, my love of dogs often comes up during the hiring process. Of course, it’s generally because I do relevant-to-my-career volunteer work with animal rescues, but the conversation then often veers into personal territory with story swapping about beloved pets.

        Nothing wrong with showing a little personality (and a little personal information) in an interview if it becomes appropriate with the natural flow of the conversation. (Caveat: One should also be aware of what lines are not appropriate to cross as well – you should probably never mention that you’re the reigning beer pong champion in your group of friends.)

        That said, I would never go into an interview and say, “Hi, I’m Piper. I’m a wife and a proud parent to three furbabies.” Nor would I mention it in my cover letter.

        1. JPT*

          Same here… I live in a very dog-friendly community so it’s a common topic of conversation around here. More people on the streets know my dog’s name than mine. I don’t define myself as a pet owner/wife, but it does come up.

      1. Just some person*

        Then why do you keep bringing it up here? Your original email and majority of your comments mention it in the opening sentence. If it’s irrelevant, then don’t bring it up when you’re talking about your job search.

  42. ES*

    To add another comment to the pile…

    Another thing to consider about the woman who worked at the tire place – just because in this case you might have been more qualified than her does not mean that the HR person was lying. You don’t know who got hired in all those other positions – they certainly could have had a lot more experience than you. I’m sure the HR person didn’t want to get into the details of every single job, and just gave you her general impression. That person could have been the exception, or had other qualifications that you don’t know about that made her stand out.

    Regardless, good luck to the OP. I do think a lot of the advice here is good, and I know that this blog has definitely helped me a lot in my previous job searches. Job hunting can be very frustrating and definitely wear you down.

  43. Nyxalinth*

    I have to say OP that the more i read your replies, the more I hear “I was unjustly effed over, and I will disregard everyone who disagrees with me.”

    Fine. You were screwed over and they hired some stupid girl with no relevant experience. All that matters in a job is what you say it does. There, feel any better now?

    You lost all sympathy I had for you.

    1. AD*

      But we all had so much fun today reading this stuff! This is one of the most entertaining threads in a while.

      (also, you forgot “It is most definitely the evil OB/GYN manager who is totally ruining your life”)

      1. Nyxalinth*

        I’m not the sort who finds ‘fun’ in this sort of thing, even when I totally lose all patience with someone. But it stops being a desire to help and becomes a desire to troll when it’s obvious someone is refusing to take good advice.

    2. OP from this post*

      I was reading this tonight and I really wanted to respond to this post. I am really sorry I came across the way I did. I really do appreciate so much of the feedback here. I really did so many things the wrong way. I still don’t believe I sent that e-mail. No, I do not believe I was unjustly effed over as you stated. I just messed up a lot. I believe I burned a bridge but I can only remember the saying God help me accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Thank you, this is something unfortunately for me I cannot change. I can only learn from it.

      1. Jennifer O*

        Hi OP – I’m so glad you were able to come back to this when your emotions settled and are now able to accept some of the great advice provided in this post. I wish you all the best in your job search.

        I hope you’ll send in an update to Alison at the end of the year to let us know how you’re doing.

  44. Eva*

    AAM, you know I have the highest regard for your judgment and savoir-faire, and the following is really the kind of feedback about which Theodore Roosevelt said: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles.” Okay, enough with the throat-clearing.

    When reading this post I thought to myself, “Wow, AAM really isn’t making it easy for the OP to absorb the advice this time around!” If you were always this blunt, I never would’ve pegged you for a Feeler. One thing I love about your blog is how you usually deliver criticism with a good dose of compassion – you’ve taught me a lot about how objective, critical thinking and emotional intelligence don’t have to be mutually exclusive – but I feel like the second part, the compassion, is missing in this particular post. (I’m thinking I don’t have to spell out what kind of diplomacy I am referring to because you have demonstrated time and again that you excel at it.)

    I completely get if you’re not always up for sugarcoating things, but I do think it sets a quite different tone for the comments which I, for one, am then less interested in following. To be clear, I think it’s great entertainment when an OP who has definitively crossed the line in the comments section gets what they have coming, but only when they have first been given the best possible chance to swallow their pride and absorb your advice. I think this particular OP sounds like one who might’ve reacted differently if she had felt related to on a human level, and that doubt transforms what is ordinarily my righteous thrill at justice being served to a deep sense of sadness about all the meaningless suffering in the world. Which is not really a feeling I actively seek out!

    O-kay, I should be wrapping this up. I just want to end by reiterating that I absolutely love your blog and that for me personally you’ve forever raised the bar in Awesomeness!

    1. BlueGal*

      I agree. There seems to be a lack of understanding (or caring) that the OP is clearly frustrated with her job search. Also, the bit about grammatical errors seemed overly snarky, as if you wanted to embarrass the OP. I don’t think that was intended, but it came off that way.

      1. Anonymous*

        I think the point about the grammatical errors was to point out to OP that they are clearly missing a fundamental skill in administrative positions – strong writing skills – not to cause embarrassment. The letter questioned why she was passed up for this job and Alison was pointing out a possible reason.

        Judging from OP’s comments she would benefit from taking a writing course and refreshing her grammatical skills.

      2. Jamie*

        I think that was the most important part of Alison’s advice.

        You can have the best attitude and interview patter in the world, but poor written communication skills are the obstacle to getting the interviews in the first place.

        Personally, I would think it unkind of it wasn’t mentioned. Of course criticism is tough to hear – but if this is advice is taken it may be the most helpful thing a candidate can do.

        Also, new readers so go through the archives – it’s a message that can’t be stated strongly enough.

        I have two kids who don’t have the best extemporaneous written communication. Doesn’t change how much I love them, but if I let them believe that spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation don’t matter I’m hurting them. I’m not harsh about it, but yeah, they do ask me to help proof when they do a paper for school or apply for a job…and I’m honest as I would be with a co-worker.

        And yes, I have told them that other people will judge you by how you communicate and it’s incumbent upon them to meet a high bar.

        I think it would have been a real disservice not to mention it.

        1. Samantha Jane Bolin*

          I have a 7-year old that constantly asks me (when I correct her grammar) “why do you care so much about grammar?” I tell her, if you want to be perceived as an intelligent person in life, you have to speak properly. Otherwise people will question your abilities.

          Contrast that with our AA, whom I would not have hired (for several reasons-bad grammar included), but my boss chose to hire. Her grammar is horrid- lots of “I seen” and “I done.” I can’t trust her to type anything independently or even take meeting minutes. He now regrets the error of his ways.

          1. Jamie*

            Awww – this takes me back. I was also religious about my kids’ grammar from the time they learned to speak and I consider it a gift to them. The horrible stage where they realized that some adults don’t have the same standards and having to teach them that they can’t run around correcting people themselves was my punishment – but it’s totally worth it.

            It’s interesting to note that verbally my kids are all extremely articulate – so I was surprised when it didn’t automatically translate to written communication. I had always assumed if you had one, you’d have the other – but it wasn’t the case. That’s why in hiring it’s important to see writing samples if it’s a core competency of the job, you can’t assume that just because someone is well spoken that they are as fluid when writing.

            An interesting aside: I was asked in an interview once who wrote my cover letter…they almost didn’t call me because they assumed that anyone in IT wouldn’t have communication skills. It is to be hoped that all AAM readers in tech are killing that stereotype one cover letter at a time.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I would have felt I was doing her a disservice if I didn’t mention the writing issues — they were glaring enough that that alone would be enough for many employers to disqualify her, and she’s wondering why she’s not getting hired. I know that feedback can be hard to hear, but it’s so crucial to fix that issue, especially for someone wondering why they’re not having success in their job search. One of the advantages of this website (I hope) is that people can hear straightforward feedback that their friends/family might not feel comfortable giving them.

    2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      I disagree, actually. When I read Alison’s response I thought she was being very diplomatic and kind. I probably would have been much more direct and snarky.

      1. Eva*

        It’s certainly possible to be snarkier than AAM was here, but the fact is that she was much more blunt in this post than she has been for most of the time she has built up this blog and its dedicated and unusually civilized fan base. She’s changing up the recipe of a successful product, and if she isn’t doing so consciously, this die-hard fan of the old flavor wants to make sure she’s aware of it.

      2. A Bug!*

        I agree. AAM’s response was actually quite restrained. She pointed out the red flags that she observed, and explained why they might indicate a problem that needs addressing.

        AAM is not obligated to hand-hold the people who are writing in for free professional advice. Anybody even passingly familiar with this blog would know that AAM is about straightforward, professional job-related advice. That is what AAM provided here.

        If the asker wrote in expecting a pat on the back, then her expectations were unrealistic, which is yet another red flag, and one that fits pretty snugly with the others.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Thanks, Eva. I’ve actually taken a similar tone a few other times, always in a case like this, where the letter-writer seemed to be really off the reservation in terms of entitlement (a sense of her that has since been borne out by her fairly rude follow-ups here in the comments). There are a lot of situations where I try to really be gentle with people, but entitlement is a special case. (And frankly, her follow-ups here have magnified my original impression.)

      1. LL*

        Long time lurker here. Alison’s advice was spot on and if you read through her other posts she does not sugarcoat. There is a difference between being blunt and being tactless and I don’t think her advice was harsh at all. It needed to be said if the OP wants to improve her chances of getting hired.

    4. Anonymous*

      Thank you so much. I have cried a lot today. I am very naive when it comes to job searching and have not had a lot of experience. I won’t be writing anyone for help again.

      1. Liz*

        That last sentence, “I won’t be writing anyone for help again,” is the source of all the issues you’re having with the commenters today, and possibly in your job search.

        Without that slap at the end, your response would have been an honest self-assessment and ownership of the kind of shortcomings that we all have. With it, it’s mean and makes people want to avoid you.

        I think you’re sheltered, rather than a troll. I live in an area of the country where people frequently seem to believe that if they express a controlling, unkind, confrontational sentiment in a polite tone of voice then they are being “nice.” And I’ve lived in the South, which has a whole culture built up around pretending to be sweet while eviscerating people.

        The fact is, when someone who is within his or rights says,”No,” a reasonable person accepts that. If you can’t hear a “No” without attacking or sending a “nice note” then you are violating other people’s boundaries and they will not want to be around you.

        It is not enough to sound nice or look nice or have good intentions, you have to look at the content of the message you are sending. If that content is critical of another person then don’t be surprised if they think it’s mean, no matter how it’s phrased.

        As an aside, this thread made me want to visit the East Coast. I would never move there again but I really do miss knowing where you stand with people sometimes.

            1. Liz in a Library*

              You’re right…sometimes it means much worse.

              (Says the daughter of the *queen* of passive-aggressive southern “kindness.”)

      2. Somebody*

        It’s okay to be naive and inexperienced with job searching, but if you’re serious about finding a job, then I would highly recommend that you learn to be more open and receptive to feedback. If you’re having a hard time with all the comments here, then quite honestly, you may have an even tougher time at any position at any company.

        Knowing when to ask for help and how to react to feedback is essential to being successful both in work and in life. You wrote to ask for advice. That’s a great step. The next step is to take that advice and keep moving forward, instead of just feeling hurt and declaring that you won’t ask for help again. It’s okay to have hurt feelings, but you shouldn’t give up!

    5. Anonymous*

      To Eva: Thank you I really appreciate your post. I have cried alot today. I am not a tough person and I won’t write for job help again.

      1. Rana*

        I feel sorry for you, but I also want to gently shake you.

        Yes, it is tough hearing that the job market is difficult and unfair, and it is tough hearing that the way you’ve tried to get a job is not good.

        It is tough hearing that other people have a bad image of you, when you feel like you’re a good, kind person. Why are they being mean?

        But they are not, in fact, being mean. Being mean would not involve giving you practical advice, even if it’s advice you do not like.

        Think about it this way. You’ve served your kids a nice healthy dinner, one that you spent a good amount of time thinking about and shopping for. You know that they need a balanced diet, so you include some meat and vegetables along with the ice cream. It happens that your kid is picky and will only eat macaroni. Nothing’s wrong with macaroni, but you can’t eat it every day, and you want your kid to learn about other foods so they don’t end up being a grown-up who lives on nothing but mac and cheese.

        But the kid, being a kid, doesn’t care about that. She (or he) only wants the macaroni (which isn’t on the menu tonight), and ice cream, and no yucky broccoli and liver. All her friends get to eat ice cream and pizza, so why are you making her eat this gross stuff? What do you do?

        (a) Shrug, and say, okay, I’ll make you some mac and cheese, don’t cry. Here’s your ice cream in the meantime.

        (b) Explain that if she wants ice cream, she needs to eat (or at least try) the broccoli and liver first. And the whining is annoying, so please stop.

        The healthy answer is, of course, b. Now, your kid may be very sweet, and love her dog and her friends, and she’s a good kid all around, but that doesn’t get her off the hook. She still needs to eat the liver and broccoli before she gets the ice cream… and sometimes, she might not even get the ice cream, because you’re out of it and no one gets ice cream, or dad came home after a hard day at work and ate it all the night before. And she needs to learn that whining is annoying, and that there are proper and polite ways of asking (or complaining), even when you’re upset.

        An adult understands that sometimes they need to do things that are the equivalent of eating the liver and the broccoli, and that ice cream isn’t guaranteed at the end. You eat the liver and the broccoli because they are good for you, and you hope for the ice cream, but if you’re out, you shrug, deal with it, and put a note on the fridge to buy some more next time. Adults understand that whining is what kids do, and that there are better ways of communicating when they are disappointed or want something they don’t have.

        Right now? You’ve already been acting like a little kid who doesn’t want to eat her broccoli and liver, is upset that the ice cream ran out, and keeps says that’s she’s a good kid so why can’t she have ice cream… and now you’re going to go pout in your room?

        As a medical administrative person, you would be trusted with the intimate lives of patients, you would be required to keep their financial information safe, you would need to be assertive and confident and hardworking, even on days when you have to deal with angry and frustrated patients or cranky doctors. Does this sound like a person who pouts in her room because she can’t have ice cream?

        No. You’re better than this. Pull up your big girl pants and show people that you’re awesome and kickass and strong, and can take a licking and keep on trucking. Model for your kids what you want them to be: strong, confident, flexible, and willing to learn and grow, even when it’s hard. Eat your broccoli and liver, and eventually, the ice cream will come. And enough with the whining; it’s annoying, after all.

        1. Camellia*

          Excellent post, Rana, but I have a feeling that OP is going to choose c) I went to all this trouble to cook for you, why are you being so mean to me? I will never cook for you again.

  45. AshAnon*

    While reading through these comments from OP, has anyone else thought….. troll? Just saying…

    1. Liz*

      I know too many people who speak exactly like this and the emotions sound so completely genuine. If it’s a troll, he/she should write a novel in this voice. It’s pitch-perfect and it obviously gets a really big reaction!

  46. Just One Question*

    Dear OP (if you’re still reading any of these comments),

    Answer this question, and you might understand where fellow readers are coming from.

    What did you plan on accomplishing by sending an email to HR, mentioning the qualifications/credentials of an already established employee? In other words, why did you do it?

    I won’t write why I think so because I am not a mind reader.

  47. Kelly O*

    I’d disagree that mentioning the fact that a submission had to be edited for grammar is in any way not important when considering this case as a whole.

    I hope the OP reads this comment, because although I’m not a medical admin, I am an administrative assistant and I’ve worked going on fifteen years in support positions in different industries and for all different kinds of companies. I’ve worked with doctors, in educational environments, utilities, retail, real estate, travel, finance… I am not simply saying something without having experience to back this up.

    As an administrative support person, you are responsible for making your department or executive look their best. Not only does that mean the personable bits (guests, phones, errands, etc.) but also the harder skills – typing correspondence, preparing expense reports, putting together presentations, even talking with higher-ups and their assistants on the phone. I type much more casually in comments than I would in work correspondence, but being able to create a coherent statement is absolutely vital to being a good admin.

    The other thing I would add is that if you want to be in a support position, you will have to learn to take all sorts of criticism. Some of it is kindly phrased, some is not. You do not get to pick how your constructive criticism is phrased. You do not get to say “that made me feel bad” and try to backpedal your way to the result you want. Trust me, if you could find a way to do that, I would be making a Scrooge McDuck sized pile of gold teaching that particular class, because I have tried.

    This is my suggestion to you. Take some time, get out a pen and a piece of paper, and go through each and every one of these comments. Not just the ones you like. Every. Blessed. One. Make notes about how you were perceived by people who do not know you. Think about how you would feel if you were reading this as a completely uninvolved third party. You can be angry about a comment. You can be upset, or hurt, or whatever emotion hits you. The reaction you have is yours and no one can judge you for that.

    But, when you feel that reaction, you have to accept it in that moment and then let it go. A huge part of what you will do every single day in a role like this is deal with people who are upset, for whatever reason. It is your responsibility to control your own emotion. You can feel it, but you cannot be reactive. You have to come up with a proactive way of acknowledging your own feelings without projecting that on to someone else, or even reacting in a negative way.

    And I know, you want to defend yourself. You want to justify why you’re right. (Believe me, I know.) But you just can’t. You could bottle it up and let it all out later, but that’s not entirely healthy either. I do the best when I simply take a moment to acknowledge it, remember that although I can’t control what’s said to me, I can control what I say to others, and start working on a positive solution.

    Please don’t take that personally. It’s just a lot of life lessons that took me a long time to learn. They’re necessary if you want to be successful in the field you’ve chosen, and if this gives you any leg up on that process, then maybe my struggle was worth it.

    1. Jamie*

      Wow. And this is why if Kelly lived in Chicago I’d be moving heaven and earth to get the powers that be to create a position just so we could woo her away and snap her up.

      This is the kind of thought process and ability to communicate that jumps off the page and illustrates so perfectly the value she would add to an organization.

      I really believe that for anyone to write better they need to read good writers. I suggest anyone wanting to improve written communication do a search and read posts from Kelly – I’d be hard pressed to find anyone better to use as a template.

      1. V*

        lol Jamie – if only all the AAM commenters could just form one big company and blog to each other all day long *looks at AAM* :)

    2. Nichole*

      Seriously considering printing this out and stashing it in my pity party box for when I need it. Thanks, Kelly.

    3. Anonymous*

      Superb – OP, this covers it for you, read this post, read it again, then again, then do what she says.

    4. Andrea*

      This is so perfect! “As an administrative support person, you are responsible for making your department or executive look their best.”
      I’m an Admin as well, and this is truly what my job is all about. It doesn’t matter if I’m working on an expense report or editing a document, it’s all about making my boss/the company look good.
      Good advice to the OP, too.

  48. Nichole*

    I admittedly didn’t read all 250 comments, so I apologize in advance for redundancy-I’ll try to be brief.

    I live in an area where one health care system has swallowed all of the others, so I know a lot of people in the boat of the OP. OP, your behavior was inappropriate and you burned a bridge. I’m sorry. I hope AAM’s response and the comments are taken in the spirit in which they are given-as an honest appraisal for your benefit, since in the “real world” that’s hard to come by-and you’ll be able to see what you can do differently next time to get a better outcome. In my experience, people who present themselves in the way the OP did in her letter often have much to offer, but have spent so much time around others like themselves that they expect other people to think and behave as they do. Then when others don’t meet those expections, they feel confused and misled. Actively practicing putting yourself in other’s shoes before responding can help with adjusting your self presentation so different kinds of people can hear what you mean and not just what you say.

    Now here’s where I become useful, because vocational education just happens to be my area of expertise: medical secretary is a degree that is specialized, but not so much so that you’re pigeonholed. Perhaps you assumed this was the only game in town and haven’t thought outside the box yet. Something like a call center position for a medical supplier, non-medical clerical position, or medical sales may be a way to break into the field and create some space from the health system, so that if/when you decide to apply again, you have more diverse work experience and a stronger grasp on the politics of the industry. If you can’t work for them, work for someone who works with them.

    Also, be patient. You may really not be ready for your dream job now. And consider part time. Working two part time jobs stunk, but it diversified my skill set and helped me learn how the work world works. It was a lot easier to understand why I wasn’t ready for jobs I was passed over on when I had a chance to see how different my jobs were than my college classes or other types of work, and how much I gained from starting at the bottom, even when I felt like I was capable of more. I still list a job at a large department store on my resume-I thought about omitting it, then realized that I often referenced experiences of my work there in interviews as examples of how I faced real world situations. They didn’t want to hear about my college papers, they wanted to hear about the lady who yelled and hung up on me three times yet somehow ended up happy. Widen your net and be patient and the better jobs will come. Hang in there. Good luck.

    So much for brief…

    1. Kelly*

      Most people job hunting have been in the OP’s situation more than once. They apply for jobs they know they are able to do and wait for the phone call or email for the interview. Sometimes they get that response and sometimes they don’t. Most of us have at some point in our job hunts gone on facebook or linkedin to check out who got the jobs we had applied for and been turned down for. Some of us have frequented those businesses too. Most of have thought how in the world did that person get the job ahead of me? I’m just as qualified, professional, and probably have as much experience and relevant education as them. The difference between most of us and the OP is that we don’t grill the poor administrative assistant and send nice/snarky notes to HR commenting on their seemingly flawed hiring process.

      If the OP has not burned bridges within the organization, they should also think about its employee turnover. I live in an area where one medical system is the largest employer in town. I’ve interviewed for positions there and haven’t received an offer. Three to six months later the same position is posted again. Either the person didn’t make it past their probationary period or they found another position.

      Say the person who was hired instead of them for one job is done after the probationary period and they are looking to hire for that position again. If she had a good interview and made a positive impression on someone in the group, they might look at her application materials again. If she hadn’t reacted the way she did, she might still have a chance at getting a position within the whole system. That’s how I got one of my jobs. I had interviewed for it and someone else was offered the position. Another position opened up a couple months later and I was offered it without having to interview again.

  49. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Wow — I go away for a few hours and come back to 250+ comments.

    I think everyone has made the points I’d want to make, but I’ll close by saying that I hope that the OP will realize that no matter what your intentions, there is a problem on your end if hundreds of internet strangers reading your communications are getting a different impression of you. (In fact, I can’t recall a time before now that every commenter was united in their overall take on something. There’s usually at least some dissent.) OP, there’s a reason why we’ve all gotten the impression we have, and it’s because that’s the impression you’re giving. You say it’s not what you intend, so figuring out why it’s happening and fixing it could be key to improving your success in job searching. Which is the whole point to me and others giving you advice here, your personal nastiness toward me in the comments notwithstanding.

    1. Anonymous*

      I really wish I had never written you. You do not know me but I have cried a lot today. I appreciated some good suggestions, but you don’t know me. I do not think I will write anyone for job help again.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        No, I don’t know you, and neither do the employers you’re applying for jobs with. That’s the point — how you come across to people who don’t know you matters, and everyone here is pointing out to you that you’re coming across differently than you intend/think. You can feel hurt by that, I suppose, but don’t you want to know?

        Instead of feeling hurt, it would be a lot more helpful for your own quality of life to take it as the favor that it is — because now that you have that information, you can do something with it. This point has been made many times at this point, and it doesn’t seem to be getting through, but I hope that in the coming days it will.

        1. Anonymous*

          Alison, I do want you to know I have enjoyed reading several of your articles also those posted on U.S. News. I really am honest when I posted about being new with job searching. I apologize to you for saying you were being judgmental. My feelings were hurt because I really know I was being cast in a way I am not. That being said, people do matter and things can and should be said to others with kindness. I will never post on a website like this again. I am not tough and I don’t want to ever open my self up to being hurt by people just because they want to. Good luck with this website. It seems you got a lot of response today. For the record, everyone was dealing with a real person today that does have feelings. Everyone matters.

          1. Andrea*

            Wow, after all of this, you still think that people were trying to hurt you just because they wanted to? I think you should reconsider whether you are cut out for jobs dealing with the public, then.

          2. Piper*

            OP, it’s making me sad to see that you’re refusing to absorb any of the advice you’ve been given. With a few exceptions, people here were not being mean to you; they were giving you excellent advice.

            Honestly, job hunting sucks for everyone right now, no matter what their qualifications. I interviewed for a job a few months ago, just as they offered it to me, they froze hiring. I was then told that as soon as the hiring freeze was lifted, I would have the job. Guess what? The hiring freeze was lifted the other day and instead of telling me I have the job, I found out that it’s now between me and one other person and they are reviewing all of our qualifications again before making a decision.

            Is this fair? Is it kind? Probably not. But it’s the way of the corporate world and anyone who’s in it needs toughen up and not take these things personally. Could I have gotten angry at the hiring manager and told her that I would no longer be supporting her company because of this? Sure. But I didn’t. I sent her an enthusiastic response telling her to keep me posted as soon as she hears anything. Because you know what? This is a big company with lots of opportunities (sort of like the healthcare system you’ve been applying to) and I don’t want to burn a bridge if something else comes up.

            And, the world is small place. Who knows who else this hiring manager knows? I could come in contact with her best friend when I’m looking for a job at another company. If I throw a fit like a child who can’t have ice cream (Rana, love that analogy, btw!), she’s definitely going to tell her friends about it and I could knock myself out of the running for another job somewhere else.

            I recommend some serious self-reflection, OP. It’s okay to be sad and angry, it’s okay to cry, but you’re an adult. You have to act like one when you’re looking for a job in the real world. Best of luck to you, OP.

            1. ThatHRGirl*

              This is fantastic advice. I wish the OP could take it to heart and absorb it all, but I fear she won’t.

              It reminds me of an instance last year, where I had an employee that I had to tell “No”, she could not take her grandchildren to our company summer event. It was limited to spouse & children living under the same roof, and single employees could bring 1 guest of their choosing. I explained that we simply had to limit it somehow so that we could still provide all of the same great food, entertainment, etc. within our budget.

              She had her grandchildren write me a handwritten letter explaining how terribly mean and unfair it was that I would not let them attend Grandma’s work party… that they had driven past and been so angry that they couldn’t go in because it looked so fun.

              What an opportunity that was squandered, to teach the kids/grandkids that life is not always fair, and we can’t always get what we want, but that we have to learn to accept that and move on, and find our own fun.

              OP, I wish you luck in your job search, truly, but there is a lot of self-reflection that needs to be done on your part. I believe you are a truly nice person who is misguided. Is there someone you could talk to such as a pastor or impartial 3rd party (if a friend, someone who will be brutally honest)? I think that you will need to overcome these challenges if you hope to land your dream job, and I’m afraid if you don’t that you will keep yourself from succeeding and will end up giving up, bitter and angry.

              1. Adam V*

                > She had her grandchildren write me a handwritten letter explaining how terribly mean and unfair it was that I would not let them attend Grandma’s work party

                Wow. Can I ask what response she thought she might get out of that, other than to have you put a big red flag on her file that means “this person is going to cause problems for me in the future” ?

                1. ThatHRGirl*

                  Precisely! And the thing is… I’m not even the one who makes that rule!

                  I wanted to bring that incident up to see if maybe OP could step outside her own situation for a minute and consider some things.

                  I know OP is a mom, and she seems sweet and mostly likely a great mom!

                  But OP, what if these were YOUR children who were unable to go to this carnival. You happened to drive past and they started to cry and say “But we don’t understand! It’s not fair! We love cotton candy and ferris wheels and it looks so fun!”

                  What would you teach them in that moment? That every time something seems unfair and unjust, they should protest and complain and see if they can get someone to buckle and cave? Or that, you know what, sometimes we want to do things and go places and we just can’t. Sometimes it’s unfair, but an important part of life is moving on!

                  I really believe, OP, that you would do right by your children and teach them the correct lesson. So I hope this helps you look at things from a different perspective and see where you may have been wrong, and move on and “make your own fun”. I think this job and healthcare system is not for you – and there is probably an office out there that WILL be right for you if you can make some adjustments.

              2. KellyK*

                Oh. My. That’s completely and utterly ridiculous. Besides the unprofessionalism, way to teach the kids to be whiny!

          3. K.*

            I am not tough and I don’t want to ever open my self up to being hurt by people just because they want to.
            I say this with kindness: if you want to work anywhere (pet store, white-shoe law firm, in health care, whatever) you need to be a little bit tough, at least at work. Especially if you’re dealing with the public, as someone else pointed out. I know you pride yourself on being a “nice Southern girl,” but not everyone is as nice as you claim to be, and if you’re dealing with the public, someone says something you don’t like, and it reduces you to tears every time? You’re not going to last very long. People often treat customer service people like crap “just because they want to.” It’s not right, it’s not fair, but it happens all the time, and if you want to take on that sort of position, you’re going to need a thicker skin. To say NOTHING of how cold and unfriendly the job market is, particularly to people with very limited work experience. This isn’t the first job you’re going to be rejected for.

            1. AB*

              +1

              I work with the best group of people and we all get on. We still have the odd loud and difficult disagreements between ourselves over work issues. Some days I can come away from a meeting fuming and/or feeling like crying. However I have to shrug it off and move on to the next thing.

              That’s before you consider the fact that OP wants to work somewhere where customers are going to be unwell and possibly short tempered. Most people on this thread have been pointing out how OP is coming across and OP is flinching like they have been punched!

      2. Anonymous*

        OP, you do not understand. Alison and none of the commenters have attacked you personally. You are correct. We do not know you. You could easily be the sweetest person in the world who will be on our side in a skinny minute if we needed you. But you have to understand that we are in your corner here, trying to give constructive criticism on how you are presenting yourself in the job world. Constructive criticism is not intended to be nasty towards you and make you cry all day. Its intentions are to be productive – giving you insight into what the problem might be and giving you solutions or at the very least to point you in the right direction. As Alison wrote, all of the readers who have written in today are in total agreement that you need to take a new approach to your job search.

        My suggestion to you is to continue to read her blog. Read through the old posts – such as writing cover letters, writing resumes, when to contact an employer and how, etc. Read what she writes and reflect on yourself and your job search. Maybe there’s something you’re missing out on or need to improve.

        You are right. We don’t know you. But neither does the employer who receives your application and they will make judgements based on how you portray yourself via application without knowing yo!. Do you criticize them directly when they reject you? Don’t burn bridges. I wholeheartedly believe you just did with Alison.

        Furthermore, the attitude you are portraying in this last post doesn’t hurt Alison because there are tons of other readers here, including myself, who know her and her blog better than how you are trying to portray her here. But at the same time, don’t cut off your nose to spite your face and say you will not ask anyone for job help again. People can sense that sort of attitude a mile away, and therefore, you might be searching for awhile. I might be piling it on, like others have said to others previously, but sometimes one needs to hear the truth.

        You can lead the horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Reflect OP, change the attitude, evaluate, and move on. Best of luck.

  50. Anonymous*

    OP, stop with the comments here. By committing to this sort of mindset, you are digging yourself into a more difficult job search. Try saying something like this instead: “Thank you for the feedback. It was hard for me to hear and I’m not sure if I agree with it all but I’m going to spend some time thinking about it.”

  51. Anonymous*

    Wow! I am always amazed by the people that write to an advice columnist and have apparently never read the column before. The OP made a large number of very rookie mistakes that people who regularly read this column know are glaring mistakes. I knew from the moment I saw the column this morning that this was going to generate tons of comments and sadly I was proved right in my suspicion that the OP would get defensive and hurt.

    After the OP finishes reading all these comments, she should take a look at the rest of Allison’s columns. The one’s by entry level job seekers and people having difficulty getting hired will have good advice that won’t hurt or embarress you personally. The distance will help.

    It’s pretty clear, though, that you stumbled across this blog and wrote in without being a regular reader. We read AAM everyday so we see all those mistakes you made in your interaction with HR. And, unlike a lot of people who wrote in, you displayed no awareness of how wrong your actions were.

  52. Anonymous*

    Keep looking, OP. You’ll find a job that works for you.

    I just wanted to suggest, kindly, that you might reconsider the receptionist positions. You seem extremely tender-hearted. The public is not. When you have to give someone bad news (like telling someone that they have to reschedule their appointment because they are half an hour late or that their doctor is running late) they will not always be pleasant. You will be called rude names and perhaps be sworn at. Such is the fun of working with the public.

    If someone stating that you come across as entitled makes you cry — how are you going to react when someone calls you a stupid b**** for something that you have no control over? I can guarantee it will happen. The public is like that. And then you will have to compose yourself for the next client. No crying in public at the workplace, and you won’t always get a chance to run to the ladies’ room if it is busy .

    For your first big job getting back into the workforce, do you really want to cope with that? There are still options in the medical field (since that is what you really seem to want). There is always a lot of filing to do, or clerical jobs in the laboratories — and anything in the lab usually pays fairly well ;)

    1. Anon*

      Excellent point! I worked in a medical office in my younger years and was even yelled at by an insurance adjustor! I had to suck it up and tell myself that it wasn’t a personal attack and let the doctor take care of that account later. Many times I was spoken to very harshly by patients because they owed money, couldn’t get an appointment at their desired day/time, there was a long wait in the office and they didn’t have an appointment, et cetera. None of it was my fault, but I was the “face” of the office and they took their anger out on me. I had to let it roll off my back.

      You’re right, service positions can be rough, and if you don’t have the thick skin to take their guff, then perhaps it isn’t the job for you (general “you” here) after all.

  53. Steve G*

    I don’t know if I would want to work there if a hiring Mgr had a beef with me. I think you should start at a smaller office and then try applying back in a few years, hopefully after some of these people aren’t around anymore. Too bad you aren’t in a place like NYC where we have tons of hospitals, nursing homes, university hospitals, etc. You’d have your pick.

    1. Ellen M.*

      Re: the hospitals in NYC, not exactly, Steve. A number of big hospitals have closed over the past few of years in NYC, including St. John’s, St. Vincent’s and Mary Immaculate, with Peninsula closing soon.

  54. Ellen M.*

    Re: the OP, it seems she has moved from mentioning the marriage and kids repeatedly to talking about crying today, repeatedly.

    Makes me wonder if she is for real… *raises eyebrow*

    If she is, then Paul Simon said it better than I could: “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”

  55. CatB (Europe)*

    I really think this particular thread is a gold mine for whoever wants to learn about feedback, hot to take it and what to do with it. It was a very insightful lesson the OP taught me (though perhaps she didn’t really intend to): to never-ever let my emotions get the better of me when work is the subject in discussion.

    I was in OP’s shoes several times in this thread and I could feel what she felt, confronted with all the blunt, yet well-intended opinions here. I learned a lot, mainly about accepting I’m not perfect and accepting I do not always convey what I want to. Taking in this wealth of information touching some sore spots is a hell of a feat; I can only hope she will eventually come to it. And when she does, this will have a huge impact on her chances of landing a good job.

  56. Anonymous*

    <<>>

    Wow
    Dont want to pile on but…this is SO a 6-year old’s response to criticism! OP, you have a LOT of growing up to do!

  57. EngineerGirl*

    I was wondering if I should post, but I think I should.

    Dear one – please know that most of us really do want what is best for you. But I would like you to consider something.

    What if you felt fine, and went in to the doctor for your normal checkup. But then your doctor told you that you had cancer! What, you say? It can’t be true! I feel fine!!!! But it really is cancer, and if you don’t listen to the advice things will only get worse.

    What happened today was a lot like being told you had cancer. You went to the “doctor” for a routine checkup and instead received a shocking diagnosis. You didn’t see it coming. And now you are devastated.

    But here is the thing. You can’t stay devastated. You need to act on the infomation to get rid of the real problem. People are telling you about some of your blind spots. This is actually a wonderful gift (though it never feels like it at the time). If you listen to them you will grow.

    I’ve also been in the position where someone had to be incredibly blunt with me about a major blind spot. I was deeply hurt. I was angry at them. But after a few months, I realized they were right. And then I realized that they were the kindest person of all – because they had the guts to tell me how to fix my problem.

    1. Anonymous*

      Alison, I do want you to know I have enjoyed reading several of your articles also those posted on U.S. News. I really am honest when I posted about being new with job searching. I apologize to you for saying you were being judgmental. My feelings were hurt because I really know I was being cast in a way I am not. That being said, people do matter and things can and should be said to others with kindness. I will never post on a website like this again. I am not tough and I don’t want to ever open my self up to being hurt by people just because they want to. Good luck with this website. It seems you got a lot of response today. For the record, everyone was dealing with a real person today that does have feelings. Everyone matters. Hope this goes through, we have had problems with our computer this week.

      1. Anonymous*

        The majority of people who responded to your question, including AAM, were not being unkind to you or “casting you” in any way. They were instructing you on what you did incorrectly in your job search and how you were coming across to us, and how you should (and should not) proceed going forward in your search in light of this new advice.

        You asked for advice and you were given real, valuable, constructive criticism. Your response to this advice, however, indicates you were not truly seeking advice after all.

      2. Anonymous*

        My feelings were hurt because I really know I was being cast in a way I am not. That being said, people do matter and things can and should be said to others with kindness.

        With all due respect, it seems as if you are living in a different world from the rest of us. I remember as a kid thinking that all I was being taught with kindness and respect was how adults acted all the time. But as I got older, it seemed that the attitudes of high school are just the beginning. People are going to be rude and blunt (although you can be blunt without being rude) as well as kind and respectful. You have to have a thick skin getting through life, and, once again, with all due respect, if you are a middle age person, how have you gotten this far without it? You are setting yourself up for a great deal of disappointment if you let every little thing bother you. You have to learn to let some things roll off your back like it was nothing. Yes, sometimes you have to be a little bit vulnerable. If you just play it safe so your feelings don’t get hurt, you aren’t going to have all that many opportunities. It’s time to toughen up!

        You don’t know Alison. She is not out to get you. This blog represents her professional passion, and she would never do anything to jeopardize your job search. She wants to help you and all other inquiries sent in! Furthermore, you only attack her blog because you feel insecure about the feedback you have received. Instead of taking it like a grown up, you have resorted to blaming Alison.

        At this point in time, I really have to question why you wrote in. Did you think you were going to get a pat on the back and Alison say, “You’re doing everything right” and that’ll be that? Why did you write in? Did you just want validation of what you were doing? Or are you looking for a change? You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, so I highly doubt you will be taking any of the advice here and continue badgering HR and employees to find out their credentials.

      3. Piper*

        OP, here’s the thing…no one was “casting” you as anything. These are the perceptions people got of you based on your original letter and your subsequent (very defensive) responses. What you don’t seem to understand is that perception is reality. How you view yourself doesn’t really matter here (unfortunately), it’s how other people perceive you that is going to make or break your job search. And right now, it’s breaking it.

        And the bottom line is, the business world (and job searching in particular) is not kind, is not respectful, is not polite. It is brutal, grueling, frustrating, rude, and exhausting. Sure, everyone matters, but businesses aren’t in the business of wrapping their arms around everyone and giving them a gold star. It just doesn’t work that way.

        You keep saying you are “not tough.” Sadly, you need to be. Not only in your job search, but also once you land a job. Your boss or your coworkers may someday have some constructive criticism regarding your work, and they may not say it in a way that you perceive as “kind” (which, I’m gathering from your posts means sugarcoated). You may also someday deal with a nasty customer in the field you’ve chosen to work (in fact, I guarantee that you will). In these situations, crying and getting defensive will not reflect well on you professionally and could end up costing you your job.

        You need to toughen up. You need to reflect on yourself and your weaknesses (hey, we all have weaknesses we need to work on). If you do this, I think you’ll find you’ll deal much better with the professional world.

      4. Jamie*

        “My feelings were hurt because I really know I was being cast in a way I am not.”

        I was thinking about this – there have been many times when Alison has given advice and people have commented that we interpreted something differently. I can’t remember a time where she didn’t allow that she could be reading it differently and ask the OP to clarify in the comments.

        If anything, she’s more open-minded than most people about acknowledging that there could be different reads on a situation. So even if you felt misrepresented in her original reply, your subsequent responses confirmed the negative impression…and had you replied differently it would have been a much more positive discussion for you.

        I understand that you’re upset, but like with networking – sometimes we don’t reap the benefits of things immediately. Maybe once you are a little removed from what hurt you on a personal level I hope you can let the overall advice spur to you a more successful job search.

      5. Natalie*

        I get the sense this is going to fall on deaf ears, but there is something I’m noticing that hasn’t been commented on as extensively as some of the other issues:

        OP, you have repeatedly characterized the comments here as lacking kindness. Having read all of them, I see very little unkindness, possibly none. People have been direct, but being direct is not inherently rude.

        You are going to have a very tough time in the working world if you can’t deal with straightforward information or feedback. And not just from your managers – if you are front line customer service you are going to have lots of customers like me who are polite and direct, and eventually you are going to have to deal with one of those customers during a problem or crisis. If you lose control of your emotions when faced with a customer like that, you’re not going to be employed terribly long.

        1. Anonymous*

          To go along with your point Natalie:

          This is an advice blog, you write in to get advice and people from a variety of professions (I believe there’s a comment post above where some of the more frequent commenters have been talking about what they do) provide their perspective on your situation. The only way we can shape our answer is to read your letter, we can’t bring our children over for afternoon tea and a play date and get to know your life story.

          This blog is an amazing resource for advice from a variety of people. Personally, it has been an outlet for me to engage in debates – the aspect that I miss most from my post-secondary education days.

          I am a daily reader, and somewhat-frequent commentor (although I have yet to think of a good nick name) and can not thank those involved with this blog enough. These are all real people with real professional careers who take the time to offer free advice to strangers. As a recent grad I have learned so much from you all and your experiences, reading this blog helped me, and many others, land dream jobs.

          OP – I’m sad you are viewing these comments as people attacking you, when you should be viewing them as an amazing group of strangers taking the time to provide you with thoughtful, straight forward guidance.

        2. Ellie H.*

          I agree. Honestly, I think of myself as an extra sensitive person . . . I do not respond well to criticism (the post about the guy who became “withdrawn” after criticism totally reminded me of me), it makes me feel awful, I’m very reactive. However, I’m still aware that this is totally my thing and that it’s not the responsibility of those I work with, hiring managers, etc. to be extra nice to me! The professional world is really about getting things done as efficiently as possible (well, ideally it is) and personal relationships are for being nice and having pleasant, mutually reinforcing social interactions. Yes, the best possible situation is if professional interactions are pleasant and reinforcing, but that’s not the number one priority of professional activity. I think I’m very “kindness and fairness” oriented too but I haven’t ever really perceived a situation like the OP’s with the same feelings of injury and injustice. It’s just life.

    2. khilde*

      I like this response, EngineerGirl. The whole thing. Especially that last sentence about the person was the kindest of all because they ahd the courage to tell you. Good reminder to be that person sometimes, even if it’s hard. Thanks.

    3. Ry*

      This is an important point and compassionately put. I have been in a similar situation (more than once, lord only knows!) and you’re right – if you listen you will grow. Thanks for stating this so well.

  58. Anonymous*

    OP, I’ve been in your shoes in more ways than one. First, there’s a fairly large employer in my area that I’m extremely well-qualified to be working at–I have extensive experience in their field that the majority of candidates who get hired there don’t have. I’ve spent 2-3 years applying with pretty much zero response, which baffles not only me, but even people I know who work at the company. Secondly, I’ve found myself in a position where I had to hear some really shocking and upsetting comments about how I was being perceived. I totally did not feel like I was guilty of the “crimes” I was being accused of, but I was being told about them by people I knew weren’t out to get me. And finally, I’m a wife and mother who’s gone back to school to get some training that I was missing. So believe me when I tell you that I can understand your frustration and your emotions right now.

    Now, I’m going to start with the perceptions vs. reality situation, bc that is the hardest thing to deal with. I can tell you that when I was confronted, I didn’t argue with the people who told me about it, but instead I went and hid for awhile. I was angry and embarrassed that people were misjudging me, and I felt like everything I was doing was all wrong. But after some time passed, I realized I’d been given a great opportunity. How many people seriously are told what they are doing that bothers other people with an explanation of how they can fix it? In my case, I was told that I was often confrontational and negative, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized how my immediate gut responses to situations were making me seem that way. I learned to take my feelings and voice them in positive ways, and it’s made a huge difference. The best thing? I now have a great story when I’m asked about a failure or a weakness–I tell people how I used to respond, and what changes I’ve made. It has been a huge asset for me when I’ve gone into interviews, bc it sounds far more genuine than “I’m a perfectionist!” or other canned responses. As people have said, the point of the comments here isn’t that you *are* entitled or whatever, it’s that you are being *perceived* as entitled. Now, imagine how awesome it will sound in an interview if you respond to a weakness question with “I used to have a challenge with how I was being perceived, but now I do X, Y and Z, and it’s really been working out great!”

    Now, as for being a wife and mother, being older and/or going back to school, it’s good to realize that in a workplace setting this can be both a positive AND a negative, and that you have a lot of control over how you present the information. The point isn’t that you shouldn’t be any of those things–it’s that you need to recognize when revealing the information is a positive (I’m organized! I’m empathetic! I’m still interested in gaining experience and knowledge!) and when it’s being seen as a negative (I really only care about my family! I am set in my ways! I don’t have enough experience to do the job!). This is another situation where perceptions may be drastically different than intent, so the more you take time to reflect on how your approach is being perceived, the more you are likely to strike the tone you want to.

    Finally, as to having a large employer that you think you’d be perfect for, but you aren’t having any luck. There are two parts to this issue. The first are things under your control. Even if you see multiple jobs that you’d be more than qualified to apply for, try to be choosy, and never have more than 1-2 open applications at any given time. Employers want to feel like you are thoughtfully considering your fit into their organization. Even if you are totally qualified for 5 or 6 positions they are listing, pick the one that sounds like the best fit, and let go of the others. The second part of this issue are things that you have no control over. In my case, I found out that the biggest problem I’ve faced with the company I want to get into is a perception about the culture at one of my previous employers–they feel that people who fit in well with my old employer tend to not fit in well with their system. Of course that’s not a fair assumption to make, but getting upset about it doesn’t change anything.

    In your case, you may have to take a break from applying to this particular employer. You’ve already identified one factor out of your control (the person who potentially dislikes you enough to speak up against your applications) and you’ve also had some discussions with the HR that probably are not helping your candidacy. While I understand the desperate feeling of “but OMG, this employer is the perfect fit for me!”, you can’t force them to feel the same way back towards you. Applying to other positions will either strengthen your candidacy for the large employer, since you’ll have a better sense of what job descriptions you are getting interviews for and you’ll gain experience with interviews, or it will give you a job elsewhere. Either of which is far better for you in the long run than continuing right now with the status quo.

  59. Kat*

    OP – like yourself, I consider myself a pretty nice person. I also have plenty of experience in my chosen field. I have lots of connections. I am upbeat and confident in interviews. I always send a thank you note, too! Despite all this, I’ve gotten rejected more times than I’ve gotten the job.

    Job hunting can be a P.I.T.A. and a real crapshoot. And forgive me if others have pointed this out already, but most people get jobs because of who they know, regardless of whether they fit the job profile perfectly or not. OP, I understand how hard the rejection can be, but please stop assuming, stop projecting (you’ve managed to include some level of psychological projection in ALL your responses), and START utilizing the constructive criticism people are giving you about sharpening your grammatical skills and developing a stronger backbone. When you feel more confident about your technical and interpersonal skill set, reach out to friends and family members who might be willing to put in a good word (with their professional contacts) on your behalf. I agree with the commenters who have suggested that it’s time to move on from applying to this company. Blind applications are rarely effective for the average job seeker — never mind for a person who has had multiple negative interactions with people at the company. You’d be better off channeling your energies in the direction of putting on a positive, “can-do” face, increasing your toolbox of skills, and having someone give you a solid personal recommendation.

    I’m also very much in agreement about temping. On summer vacations during college, I had a temp agency set me up with an administrative assistant job at an insurance company. They required no previous background in insurance, were willing to train, and with a positive attitude, I learned a lot! I was motivated by the work, and had I been in the position to stick around during the school year, it’s something I might have been able to make a career out of. You really never know. Be open to opportunity.

    Take this thread as a good learning experience. Everybody has room to improve and you want to make sure you’re doing everything possible to put your best foot forward when job searching. Be strong about this and move forward.

  60. Anonymous*

    After 377 comments I am not sure if you are really missing the point about presentation or if you being deliberately obtuse. Either way, I think you should consider walking away from being a receptionist or medical secretary, at least temporarily. Contact your local high school – they should be able to set you up with or direct you a vocational aptitude test. That may point you in the best direction to get your foot in the door – as many posters have pointed out, you have a very thin resume. You’ll need to acquire professional references, adjust to living in the working world, and hopefully gain an objective self-assessment of your abilities and weaknesses.

  61. Adam V*

    (I realize after 380+ comments, it’s likely a) no one’s looking for new thoughts and b) someone else has already posted this.)

    OP, I just wanted to ask – other than your previous part-time work, have you ever had a job? I mean a full-time, went-through-the-application-process-like-a-stranger job. (I’m currently at my 5th job, but I was helped in 2 of them because former coworkers referred me to the positions. I still had to go through the same process, but having someone on the other side to stump for me definitely helped my candidacy.)

    My wife got her only job when her sister mentioned that her company hired high school students for summer internships. After two positive summers, her boss hired her for part-time work after she graduated, then later upped her to full-time. The thing about that process is that it’s *different*. You’re probably not going to be as stringent with hiring an intern as you are a normal employee – there’s less financial risk and less work-related risk involved. And once you have experience working with someone, then your risk is lower still – you have experience with them, so you know whether they’re right for a different position.

    So it’s possible that you’ve never gone through this process before. If that’s the case, you just need to realize that everything is taken up to a much higher level. A wrong decision about a new hire can take months to rectify (typically companies have processes in place that say you have to give verbal warnings, then written warnings, prior to firing someone), and the hiring pool is much bigger, so they’re going to be extraordinarily picky with who they choose, and the slightest mistake on your part (whether written, verbal, or knowledge-based) can put you out of the running.

    This is why Alison puts so much emphasis on tailored cover letters and resumes, on preparing for your interviews, on not nagging HR with follow-ups except when necessary, and so on. She’s just trying to be honest with you about what’s going through the mind of the people on the other side of the desk.

    I hope things go well for you with the next opportunity – but I do think it’s better if you consider this company a missed one.

    1. Anonymous*

      I don’t know, but one thing I’d rule out is an update at the end of the year.

      1. Jennifer O*

        Oh I’d love an update at the end of the year. I guess I’m still holding out hope that, after OP cools down and reviews the comments, it might sink in.

        The advice in this thread (both Alison’s and from the majority of the commenters) is fantastic. Without sugar-coating, perhaps, but with really targeted, specific, actionable suggestions. I really do hope OP can eventually hear them. Even if she can’t, though, there’s a wealth of information for future people in the OP’s situation. Maybe we can hear from them.

  62. Lily*

    400! I’d love to see an update too, along the lines of: “I submitted this question in May 2012, about feeling hurt about being rejected from employment at a place that I really wanted to work at and felt very qualified for. I felt attacked by some of the comments, but once I cooled down and dried my tears, I sifted through the advice in an objective manner, put together a plan, took a writing and communications course, applied to temp agencies and started to really look at the impressions that I was giving off. Through the temp agency, I got a short-term placement with a doctor’s office and they were so pleased with my work, they hired me on a full-time permanent basis. I love my work and my colleagues, and couldn’t be happier. Thanks to this site and Alison, I couldn’t have done it. I’ve also grown a thicker skin and realized that my ego was getting in my way that day when my question was posted. I apologize for my defensiveness and snark – I realized that there were things that I wanted to hear, and I didn’t get that, but what I did get was far more valuable in the long run. Looking back, the way that I approached that original employer was wrong, but I didn’t know any better at the time, and I’ve forgiven myself and moved on from those mistakes.”

    OP (in the unlikely chance you’re still reading): I’m not trying to put words in your mouth. The point is, we do actually want you to be successful, believe it or not. People will say things that are hard to hear, and sometimes in a way you may read as mean and hurtful. I hope you are able to take a hard look at yourself and change your hurt feelings into, “Ok, I’m going to improve myself and do things differently.” Success doesn’t mean just getting a certain job that you want, earning x amount of money, getting a certain certification or job title, etc.; it’s also displaying a certain attitude. You weren’t showing a successful attitude in some of your responses to the comments. No one disagrees that it’s hard to get a job, and that re-entering the workforce as a middle-aged woman also has its own set of challenges. Just recognize that and keep striving for your goals.

    You said a few times “I won’t ask for help again” – this isn’t the right attitude and it’s pretty off-putting. We all need help in our lives and closing yourself off like that isn’t going to get you anywhere. Like I said, people are saying some things that are hard to hear, and not what you expected. But you have to be able to take criticism not as personal attacks, but as honest suggestions to improve yourself. We can all improve ourselves, and sometimes there will be hard pills to swallow. Saying you’ll never ask for help again is a passive-aggressive way of punishing people for saying things you don’t like. I believe in you, and I want you to be successful, including most (if not all) of the commenters here (whether or not you believe that) but you’ve really got to change your attitude and outlook. That really is number one. Change is hard, but you can do it. I get that you are and perceive yourself to be a good person, hardworking, following the rules, and trying to the right thing. To hear “you’re doing it wrong” is hard. It means you have to change your perceptions of your actions (not necessarily of yourself as a good and hardworking person) and change your actions. Change is hard, but you can do it. You do not suck as a person, and maybe you’ve interpreted some of the comments that way. It’s just your actions, thoughts and attitudes that need some adjusting. Sure that makes up a big part of who you are, but you are more than those things too. Take care and good luck.

  63. Anonymous*

    This is the OP and again I want to thank Alison for suggesting I pay attention to my grammar. Today, I noticed myself needing to change a couple of coverletters. My husband is a professional and he helped me with my resume so I know it is perfect. My oldest son just graduated with his chemical engineering degree and he has told me to pay attention and not be so rushed. Thank you Alison.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      OP, you are doing yourself such a huge favor by being open to feedback like that — seriously, it’s fantastic. So many people block it out, and then never get the chance to get better at things!

  64. Alisha*

    If the OP is still around, I wanted to say I’m really happy to hear that you began to feel that the advice was helpful for you, and you were able to make things work and turn your situation around.

    I know how hard it can be to hear tough advice or feel like you’re in a tough situation. I’ve been working with a therapist, and I’ve heard some tough things as relates to my negative outlook on working and my trust issues with other people. I can’t deny I have issues in those two areas. It has also crossed my mind that I may need to change industries, as I’m having a heck of a time getting back into mine.

    Like you, OP, the job search feels frustrating, at times, even demoralizing. Stay strong now, and best of luck.

  65. Anonymous*

    THere is no WAY i would hire anyone that started this many waves before they even got in the door. I could not imagine the problems i would have with this employee on how things arent fair, and how so and so is not nice, and policies are wrong. What scares me the most, is the potential employee cannot see this about themselves.

  66. Anonymous*

    I just wanted to tell the above poster, you are right about me making a lot of mistakes. I am the OP of this post and I wish I could go back and do a lot of things different. I really do not cause problems at any job and I know how I must have come across. I appreciate so much advice here and I want Alison to know I so much appreciate her.

  67. Jill of All Trades*

    I know a lot has been said here, but I actually really feel for the OP. She reminds me of my mom, so while I’m not trying to make assertions about the nature or character of the OP, I do see similarities. My mom’s whole world revolved around my brother and me for many years, and she became sheltered away from business and focused on the business of us. Oftentimes, when it comes to our families, we are the customer/client (registering for school/daycare, signing up for sports teams, going to doctors, etc.) and having to take care of business (like the insurance problem) from that perspective. All along, she was getting results regardless of grammar or coming across as entitled, because she was the customer, and she was getting no feedback. When she was going to work after we were older, she had a lot of insecurity because of the lack of familiarity and relied on the skills she’d used as the family manager, which doesn’t translate well to the employer/employee relationship. She had no idea at first what was wrong because she’d never been told or realized that her methods wouldn’t work now. I liken it to someone who is going out of the country for the first time not realizing that the Bill of Rights of the US does not go with them, even to Canada. You’ve never considered how something that has always worked or been there for you suddenly not working or being there.

    I’m new here and late to this, so I may be totally wrong, but I couldn’t resist reading through a 400+ comments thread, and this is the only thing I didn’t see My own personal opinion is that the OP kept referring to herself as a mom because she wanted Alison and the readers to understand her perspective: the in-charge family manager suddenly out of her element and needing help that she can’t define well. Being a mom and a good person has been a huge part of her idenity, and hearing how she messed up with the HR person, and shouldn’t refer to herself as a mom in business communications, and sounds entitled, and should be tougher… I got the impression that while the advice was great for someone who was ready to hear it, she had no idea what was coming, and might very well have expected some commiseration.

    A really high volume of strangers saying over and over what the OP had done wrong and offering helpful advice had to be overwhelming. It had to have felt like a huge mistake for her to have asked advice when there was SO MUCH ADVICE. I’m glad to see that the OP was able to step back and give the advice consideration. It’s all a learning curve, and sometimes it is overwhelmingly steep. I just wanted to say that I think I get where the OP was coming from and why she had a hard time with hearing all of this, even though it was all coming from everyone’s best intentions.

      1. Jill of All Trades*

        Thank you for the great blog! I found it through Evil HR Lady and I started reading at the beginning, but I’m catching up! I love your advice and style, and some of your posts have really helped me step outside myself and see things that I’ve done in my career that may have been right in prinicple but oh so wrong for me to do.

  68. Principal Technologies*

    This is a really great example of how someone’s expectations can lead to a bad job search experience. It’s really important in today’s market for candidates to understand how their actions can be perceived, and how that can affect whether or not they get an interview.

    At our company, we try to manage expectations with a simple checklist of job search DOs and DON’Ts. It’s in no way all-encompassing, but we do explain how sending in excessive applications to the same employer can make you appear desperate.

    With this particular candidate, by sending an application once a month for over a year, she inadvertantly let the employer know how long she’d been unemployed. Then, the red flag isn’t necessarily that she doesn’t know job search etiquette, but that nobody else has hired her during that time, either.

    1. Job seeker*

      This is interesting that you think this is a one-size fits all situation. I was the OP of this post and really I have had other concerns besides not getting hired in a certain time-frame.

      I have a parent I am helping with some medical issues that I have taken into my home. I appreciate your opinion, but sometimes one-size does not always fit all. There are many different positions at this particular place I have applied for in the past. Not the same one over and over. I am not desperate and I have not looked high and low for a long time. You see, sometimes judging someone you don’t know isn’t always the way things are. Oh, by the way, I do know someone that got hired at this particular place and it took them applying for 2 years. I really hope you are not job-searching anytime soon, I think your opinion might be perceived as wrong too.

  69. Suzanne*

    Hi OP I know I’m a year late and a dollar short but I only discovered this site yesterday and have been eagerly devouring the threads … Incredibly impressed by the thoughtful and generous replies people post to questions..somewhat unusual to find on the Internet!

    Anyway, not sure if you have found a job yet, or what area you’re looking at, but the realities of medical reception are generally time pressure, disgruntled or frightened patients and financial issues. As a doctor I’d be a little concerned by a receptionist who believed she had “clinical experience”. ? As a hospital visitor – was unclear what your earlier roles actually were. I’d also be worried that you weren’t able to perform the “gatekeeper” role required ie. take the abuse you will receive daily at the front desk on the chin and diffuse the situation.

    That said, I would value your experience as a mother, possible community ties and (hopefully) empathy towards others with kids. Therefore, in going for a medical job, if framed correctly, your Mom skills could be a plus.

    Ramble aside:
    – work work work on your writing skills
    – don’t take things personally
    – expect abuse in public facing jobs

    And good on you for leaving your safety zone and stepping back out into the job market – it’s not an easy thing to do but once you find the right place you’ll be glad you did. Good luck to you.

    1. Job seeker*

      I just notice your post. Yes, this has been a year ago. Today, I honestly realize how I seemed to others when I posted this a year ago. I appreciate your kind words and encouragement. I had to put my job-search on hold for awhile to help my mom.

      When I posted this, I had never posted on the internet before. I was new to this blog and honestly felt so hurt so many people were telling me how stupid I was. I know many people did not know this, but I really did not read blogs or understand how people respond on the internet. I was a fish out of water. It shocked me to have so many people tell me all the things I did wrong. Thank you for praising my mom skills. I do believe that is the one thing in my life I can be most proud of.

      Although, I have had some interviews in the medical field since posting this and understand so much more today. I held a job in a hospital several years ago before my children and do understand how important it is dealing with patients on a daily basis.

      Believe it or not, I have actually had this same place I wanted a interview with accept and review my application since this posting for a few positions. I am still hoping. It is hard to have to re-learn job searching. Time changes many things. Thank you for your best wishes.

  70. Stacey*

    I would like to commend the person that declared that HR is not there for you. I was sexually and otherwise harrassed by a childish moron at a resort I was working at, and HR went out of their way to try blaming it on me. Guess who got fired even though they were a far superior employee? The little rat-faced dirtbag still works there, despite the fact that he leered at my rear end, tried hitting me with a golf cart, stared at me constantly or entered rooms I was in almost daily, (despite being told by his boss to leave me alone) and generally lied every time “HR” talked to him. Interesting how scum gets rewarded. It was Worldmark, by the way. Their discrimination against women can never be exposed often enough. What one of the jokes in HR told me is that they have to “catch him” doing the scummy things he did to me and every other woman that worked there. But they’d take the word of any scumball that accused me of anything and took work away from me. I hope that company goes bankrupt.
    So, move on. It isn’t fair. If someone decides they don’t like you, they’ll do anything to screw you over. It’s a waste of time trying to reach these people.

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