did this recruiter lie to me? and why can’t I get hired by this company?

A reader writes:

For the past six months, I have been searching for a job after a long-term contract job ended. I am 56, with years of experience in communications and administrative work and a masters degree in library science. I very much want to work for a local company which specializes in information for libraries and researchers. I’ve applied to this company several times. Two years ago, I also had a short-term temporary job there, from which I was asked to leave because I could not control my sleep apnea and was suffering from daytime sleepiness there. I am happy to say my sleep apnea is finally under control. I contacted my old supervisor there earlier this year. Old Supervisor was glad to hear I’m in better health and said to check their website for openings. I did, and applied for three jobs there this summer. I have also applied, unsuccessfully, to other companies. I have been offered another position subcontracting at a government agency — but it’s temporary, very low-paying, and the necessary background check is taking weeks and weeks to complete.

Last month I finally had a successful phone interview with one of this company’s internal recruiters, who agreed I have strong qualifications for either a customer service role or the job I would love to have and for which I believe I am well qualified, information editor. Two weeks ago, I interviewed for the customer service position and was not chosen. I did not get an interview for the editor position and assumed they either interviewed other candidates or closed that position. After my customer service interview, I saw the editor job had been reposted. Within minutes after my customer service rejection letter was emailed, I called the recruiter and restated my interest in the editor job. And I waited. And I waited. For a week. No return call, no email. Just silence.

Yesterday morning, I left a voicemail for the recruiter again asking about the editor job. At 11:45 a.m., while on my way to the retail job I’ve taken to attempt to survive, I called him again. I again asked about the editor job being reposted and said that I was still interested. He said he received my earlier voicemail, and he was about to call me. He denied the job had been reposted/said it should not have been reposted (it was), and asked me if it was a posting for the same job in their southern office. No, it wasn’t for the southern location, it was at their midwestern headquarters. He then said they were extending an offer that day to a contractor who has been in the information editor job and, he said, it would have been difficult for me to go against this experienced candidate. He said I’m welcome to reapply to other positions there and to email him whenever I do.

I then spent five minutes sobbing uncontrollably in my car, punching into work late because I was trying to get myself under control before coming in, and the rest of the day struggling not to cry or get angry at customers who had nothing to do with it all. At home last night, my frustrations about this and my other unsuccessful job searching experiences exploded while my roommate listened and offered what little advice she could. I have exhausted the meager savings I had from my last contract job. I cannot pay my rent, car insurance, phone bill, and my medical debts with a poor-paying retail job. I am sick of unsuccessfully job hunting. I DO NOT want to work in retail anymore even though my roommate and my aunt keep saying I ought to go into retail management. I am also tired of contract/temp work not leading to permanent jobs for me.

I’m angry with the recruiter for not returning my call last week. He says he prefers to communicate with candidates through email because he’s on the phone all day (plus, he’s a millennial, and they seem to prefer electronic communication). But “being on the phone” is a big part of a recruiter’s job! And I wanted to tell him, quickly, during a short break from my retail job, after I received the rejection, that I was still very interested in the editing job. If I had emailed him, I suspect he wouldn’t have returned that either. I also feel lied to: Why would he deny the job was reposted, ask if I was mistaken about where it was located (he ought to know where his company’s job openings are located) and then say they were extending someone else an offer for it? Someone suggested posting to Glassdoor about the recruiter’s behavior, but I’m afraid someone at the company would figure it out and hold it against me. And I still want to work there!

Should I reapply the next time this or another job is posted? Did my previous bad experience there blackball me, and the recruiter can’t come out and say it? Did I shoot myself in the foot by calling him twice in one morning? Can I trust him? Could part of this be age discrimination? Should I contact the company’s HR department about his behavior and hope HR tells him to clean up his act? And how can I better manage feeling so desperate that every rejection after an interview or situation like this sends me into a tailspin of depression and anger? I need help and advice — and a much better job.

I’m so sorry you’re dealing with all these frustrations.

The thing is … the recruiter hasn’t really done anything wrong here.

You’re right that being on the phone is a big part of his job — when it comes to phone interviews and so forth. But he’s allowed to prefer to use email when it comes to communicating about status updates (many people who deal with hiring do, because when candidates get them on the phone, they often argue). Also, when you’re dealing with a huge volume of candidates, email is often more efficient. (I’d avoid thinking of it as a millennial thing; I’m not a millennial and I work the same way, as do lots of others.)

As for why he’d deny the job was reposted — the most likely answer is that it was just a mistake, not an intentional lie. He might not have realized it had been reposted already (sometimes it happens automatically, or someone else in his office could have handled it), or he might have simply had his mind on something else and gotten it wrong; it happens. It’s possible he deliberately lied about it, but that’s pretty unlikely, since you’d said that you’d already seen it, and recruiters are usually pretty comfortable rejecting people.

It’s not great to call twice in one morning. It’s going to look pushy/impatient. And you are feeling impatient, and that’s perfectly understandable! But you’ve got to remember that you can’t expect to transfer that over to an employer — it’s reasonable that they won’t feel the same urgency around getting you an immediate answer that you feel. They’ve got lots of other priorities and lots of other candidates they’re juggling. It’s unlikely that you’re going to be blackballed for doing it; just remember that it’s not something to do in the future.

What is more likely is that, yes, your previous experience there might be getting in the way of them hiring you now. If your sleepiness meant that you weren’t on the ball during your temp job there, they might have serious reservations about giving you another shot. Legally, you might be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (it will depend on details of how your condition affected you), but they might have concluded (possibly rightly) that some of the problems they saw went beyond those protections. It’s hard to say without hearing their take, but if they weren’t impressed last time, that could definitely be a factor now.

Could it be age discrimination? Sure, it could be. But the far more likely possibility is that it’s based on your previous work there. If you have pretty good rapport with your old manager and trust her to give it to you straight, one option is to take her out to coffee, tell her you’re having trouble getting re-hired, and ask if she thinks your previous time there might be the obstacle. She may or may not tell you the truth, but there’s nothing to lose by trying.

But ultimately, the big thing here is that you can’t make this employer hire you by sheer force of will. They could have reservations from your previous work together that you’re not going to be able to overcome. Or they could think you’re great, but someone else just keeps ending up being better. (And the recruiter’s mention that they hired someone who was already doing the work as a contractor could be an example of that — if that person was already doing well in the role, it’s hard to compete with that.) Or you may never know what the answer is, which is frustrating … but it’s so much less frustrating to accept that than to try to find a way to force it.

(And definitely don’t contact HR to complain; that will make you look bad because there really isn’t much to complain about here, and will decrease your future chances there.)

The best thing you can do is to lighten your focus on this company. By all means, keep applying there if they have positions that you’re strongly matched with. But assume that it just might not work out there, and don’t emotionally invest in them. Focus more on other places.

I know that’s easier said than done, especially when this company feels like it’s the way out of a very crappy situation. But if it’s not actually going to be the way out, you’re better off making other plans, even if they’re not your first-choice or even second-choice plans. I’m sorry because I know that sucks and isn’t what you want to hear.

But if you knew you were never going to work at this company, what would you do instead? Whatever that is, focus there. It doesn’t have to be retail management! There are lots of other things a library science degree qualifies you for — start looking at those things, and investing there instead of in this company that so far isn’t offering you much.

And make a point of investing in the non-work pieces of your life too. When work is this frustrating and depressing, it helps to have other things — friends, family, volunteer work, pets, hobbies — to lean into. I’m not suggesting that’s a panacea — it’s not — but it will help.

Good luck.

{ 317 comments… read them below }

  1. Janet (not a girl)

    Oh, OP. I can feel the frustration coming out of every word of your letter. I hope things improve for you soon!

    1. WellRed

      Unfortunately, the frustration/desperation can probably be felt by those on the other side of the hiring desk. LW, can you widen your job search?

      1. AnnaBananna

        +1

        Yep, and it starts to sound like entitlement, which is not what a candidate wants for their professional persona.

        OP, don’t forget to breathe. It sounds like you’re already in depression-land. I feel qualified to say this since I am clinically depressed and your reaction reminds me of me. Is there anyone (non friends/family) that you can talk to? I know you’re getting on the broke side of things but I know my city offers free/discounted talk therapy services through the social services department.

        Don’t forget to be kind to yourself and others. We’re all trying to do the best we can and rarely understand the personal struggles of others. So make sure to give recruiters a break too. Good luck.

        1. Blue Anne

          Yes. This was exactly my thinking. I can understand the OP’s fixation on this company, and their frustration at not getting a job there yet. But the increasing desperation and increasing frustration, ending in multiple calls to a recruiter on one morning, and anger at the person who is just doing their job, makes it start to seem like entitlement. At which point I would not hire that applicant.

        2. Jen S. 2.0

          Agree with this. I have so been here, and I feel you, OP. It sucks and it’s demoralizing and depressing, and it just gets worse every time you encounter an idiot with a job that you could do with your eyes closed, and you just have no idea what you’re doing wrong. You just want to punish everyone who is in your way or who has what you want.

          But none of that means this company has to hire you. The fact that you are desperate to work there does not mean that you deserve to work there. Even if you do deserve to work there, it does not mean you will get to work there. Your wanting so much to be there does not mean they have to recognize that and hire you for the job you want. (Then, once you get past all of that and into a hiring process, a good interview or a bad recruiter or a nice email or a vague voicemail don’t mean anything.)

          I also agree with others that your former health issues are probably an extremely real stumbling block. To be blunt, they well might just know you as “you know, that one temp who used to sleep on the job all that time.” I wouldn’t be eager to hire that person, either.

          They may even have a policy where anyone who was let go is ineligible for rehire.

          You need to cast a much, much, much wider net.

        3. Effective Immediately

          I was reeeeally trying hard to find a kind, constructive way to say exactly this.

          I might just be salty because the immediate focus on the wrongness of this Millennial recruiter got my hackles up, but I’m surprised that LW is surprised that a company where they used to fall asleep at work (!) might not be keen to hire them back . Even though it’s a legitimate medical condition and resolved now–and I absolutely sympathize with that–I think were I job searching under those circumstances, I would consider rehire at that company a long shot, especially as they were temping and did not have the benefit of establishing a positive reputation prior to the sleep issue.

          Much of the LW’s behavior is reading as serious lack of self-awareness–which, of course, could be attributed to the frustration of a long term job search, but we don’t know that and neither do prospective employers. LW, can you put a two week hold on anything job-search related? Putting some distance between yourself and the job hunt may give you some much needed recalibration and allow you to really be honest with yourself about your expectations and approach.

          Good luck.

          1. Yellow Peril

            I agree! Sleeping on the job would have been the first thing I’d have thought of as a good reason for rejection, and I doubt I would’ve even applied there. The fact that she didn’t see this right away suggests that she might feel a tad entitled. It’s not as though she’d been there for years and had time to build up a reputation for reliability and competence. On any given day, I’ll wager there were many employees battling the same problem, for various reasons (new parents, multiple job holders, etc.) who managed to stay awake, at least enough to not be asked to leave. If her condition is truly that bad, she might want to consider applying for disability. In any case, I’m not at all surprised by the outcome of this job search.

            1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House

              Disability can mean an over three year wait and you can’t work. How can OP do that?

          2. MissHoneychurch

            Yes. I find it interesting the OP used “millennials” (didn’t seem complimentary) and then accused them of age discrimination.
            We all accurately feel your pain. But, I am sure some of this is coming across to the company, and I wouldn’t hire you sensing all of this. Plus the work history..
            I do hope you can find something. I’ve been there, too. After an unpaid internship where I worked my buns off I did get a great long term job. Hopefully you can get a foot in the door soon.

      2. Labradoodle Daddy

        I really hate comments like this, to be honest. It’s condescending. Also– if you haven’t been out of work for a long time, it can be crappy and kind of tone deaf to tell someone who hasn’t to cheer up.

          1. Labradoodle Daddy

            That’s not the best phrasing, maybe “stay positive” is better. It is kind of the implied action that needs to be taken behind “don’t let interviewers see you’re stressed/bitter/etc,” though.

            1. Amber Rose

              OK, but letting them see that you’re stressed and bitter is exactly how you make your situation worse. Nobody is saying LW needs to actually be/stay positive, but they do need to be aware that seeming too angry or desperate while talking to a hiring manager or recruiter is not a good thing, and that those feelings may be showing more than intended.

              That’s not condescending, it’s just common sense.

                1. your favorite person

                  Based on her comments, I don’t know that OP does. They seem to be very caught in an emotional spiral. It’s great she reached out to Alison and I hope they read the comments to see how it’s been perceived.

                2. Washi

                  The OP most likely knows and would agree with “don’t show you are bitter and stressed” iin theory. But based on the information above, she may not realize that the way she is engaging is already communicating “I am bitter and stressed” and that’s what people are trying to warn her about.

                3. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I don’t think it’s condescending in every case, or in this case. The OP sounds like she’s so frustrated and upset (understandably) that she isn’t realizing how it’s impacting her thinking and, to some extent, her actions (like calling twice in a few hours and thinking of calling to complain).

                4. Labradoodle Daddy

                  I disagree, I saw it as a lack of knowledge specifically to do with recruiting and how it works, not basic common sense surrounding interview etiquette.

                5. Amber Rose

                  There’s plenty of evidence that OP does not realize the extent to which their negativity has pushed them to poor judgement, such as the multiple phone calls, the refusal to send an email when asked to do so, the somewhat condescending attitude towards millennials, the desperation to cast blame somewhere, etc.

                  That’s the thing about collapsing mental health. You may know logically that you need to pretend to be positive and chipper, but the brain that you know that fact with is also having a meltdown and not functioning as well as it should. Sometimes you need someone else to point out what should be obvious.

                6. AnnaBananna

                  Is it – at all – possible that you may be projecting? Just a smidge maybe? The reason I ask is because we come to this blog for advice, yes, but also for encouragement. Your response to encouragement seems rather personal. If it is, then I am really sorry you’re having a hard time (or did have a hard time?) finding work.

                  It is really difficult at times to stay positive when hearinga constant “no” (when you’re lucky to even hear back at all), so reminders to stay positive can feel – to others, but not you? – like someone out in the world is cheering us on. I dunno, it helps me anyway.

            2. EditorInChief

              A recruiter’s currency is their reputation. If a candidate is projecting negativity, bitterness or a sense of entitlement there’s no way a recruiter is going to forward that candidate to their client. The brutal truth is that OP needs to take whatever steps necessary to improve her attitude towards her job search.

              1. Artemesia

                First she needs to realize that it is always very unlikely that one will be rehired at a place where they were fired. This was always going to be a long shot. People will not say it to your face, but when there are other options, the likelihood is always that they will hire someone who has no already performed poorly.

                So this job search should be focused elsewhere with this company being always a lucky long shot. The OP comes across as feeling entitled to this job because she would be good at it — which she probably would be. But that bridge is probably burned and the desperate contacts are just reinforcing the view that she should not be hired.

                Time to identify other options and work on those.

                1. TootsNYC

                  Also–sometimes the only way to cut through that sort of previous bad rep is with the personal intervention. So I agree w/ Allison’s suggestion of trying to get some insight from the previous manager, as well as a chance to demonstrate an ability to stay awake.

          2. JSPA

            “regulate and curate your public persona” is completely different from, “don’t have depression.” Or for that matter, “cheer up.”

            Many people with depression (or plain old fear and frustration) have had successful careers in fields that deeply depend on a cheery facade. Think of all the comedians and actors and even motivational speakers.

            By applying to a places where they already know OP means OP is applying “as the person that they know.” Branching out would let OP present a more…aspirational?…version of herself. And that’s probably an easier sell, than either the “OP with sleep apnea” or the “OP, reasonably but stressfully stressed and insistent” that OP was then, and is now.

            Treat the entire interview process as method acting; not just the interview. What you’re feeling, important as it may be to your internal landscape, has nothing to do with the script or the character of “Jobseeker.” If OP can hold onto that, it may take her through the process more smoothly.

            1. VAkid

              Indeed. I suffer from depression and while “cheer up” pisses me off – no at work would ever know I am depressed, because I don’t act like it in my interactions with other people. I mean, my anxiety WANTS me to do some crazy stuff, but lucky I’m able to reign it in.

              This is more to the commentator above that yeah, even if you are depressed you kind of have to act like you aren’t when in a professional environment, but that doesn’t mean you will not still be depressed!

            2. Log Lady

              Yes, totally agree! I suffer from clinical depression, but I am also an elementary and middle school teacher. Cheery is in the job description. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Really, while it’s easier said than done, you can’t let your mental health affect your job if you’re able. It can send you on a real downward spiral.

            3. Julia

              I agree with you and everyone who commented on your post. I’ve sometimes felt terrible inside and still managed (I think, or I’ve been told) to hide it extremely well. However, I’ve also had a period in my life where I just couldn’t – as in, I was so far from faking it I could barely stop myself from crying all the time – and I wonder if OP isn’t getting close to that point. If that’s the case, I hope she gets some help, because that place is dark and scary and usually not productive. (And I know that this help may be really tough to get without a good health insurance, so if OP sees this, I’m sorry for suggesting something you might not be able to afford. Talking to a trusted friend can help, and I always recommend a meditation app – I use Calm – if nothing else is available.)

            4. Random Commenter

              I just want to add my experience to this thread, as it’s the same for me too. In my case, I work with a lot of different sectors of the company, in collaboration and as internal clients. I report to executives and have sometimes been in contact with people in 3 or 4 different countries, at the same time. There’s things you can’t bring with you there as long as you are able. It’s a struggle yes, but it is a fight that should be made, to at least put on the face, for professionality’s sake.

              There is this tweet by Lin-Manuel Miranda that I think encapsulates my relationship with this and that I was actually remembering this morning as I got ready for work. It goes:

              “Gmorning
              to the heaviness on your heart
              that will not budge
              and does not move:
              ‘Sup, heaviness
              We still got s*** to do,
              So I guess you’re coming with us
              But we’re driving
              And WE get to DJ
              Now move over and make room”

              (Censoring is mine)

        1. WellRed

          NOWHERE did I tell them to cheer up. Please don’t add words to my comment that aren’t there. I am very sympathetic to the letter writer, but putting their frustrations out there for the world to see will not help the job search.

          1. Labradoodle Daddy

            copy pasting from above…

            That’s not the best phrasing, maybe “stay positive” is better. It is kind of the implied action that needs to be taken behind “don’t let interviewers see you’re stressed/bitter/etc,” though.

            1. Psyche

              But the comment didn’t say to stay positive either. They were saying to widen the job search so that it won’t feel like this is the one and only way out.

            2. sunny-dee

              That’s not what’s implied, no matter how many times you paste it. What is implied is “act professionally and stay emotionally calm or detached in public.” The OP may not be doing that (the tone in her letter indicates that she’s emotionally spiraling, as someone else mentioned), and she just needs to step back and collect herself in her interactions with the employer.

              1. limenotapple

                Sunny, your comment helped me. I’m not in the same place, but a similar one, and it is nice to have someone show me some kindness and also a reminder that I need to make sure my depression is not splashing over into my interview persona.

                1. sunny-dee

                  I’m glad I helped. I’ve very much been in the emotional spiral myself, and it’s so easy to lose perspective and not even realize it.

          2. Mommy MD

            WellRed, I think the vast majority of commenters here understood your intent. And it is a salient point.

        2. Blue Anne

          Is it possible you meant to reply to something else? This doesn’t make sense as a response to to WellRed’s comment.

          1. Labradoodle Daddy

            Nope, I very deliberately meant to reply to yet another “don’t let them see your stress!!!!!” comment to LWs that I personally find to be unhelpful and condescending.

            1. Blue Anne

              Well, I think WellRed was actually being very sympathetic and giving good advice. Whether you find it condescending or not, letting a recruiter feel how desperate and frustrated you are really damages your likelihood of getting the job. Similar to getting a date with someone, really. And you’re really putting words in WellRed’s mouth.

              1. Cordoba

                I agree, it is fair input and actually quite good.

                As I read it, WellRed isn’t telling the OP how to *feel*.

                WellRead appears to be giving the OP advice around what to *do*.

                Desperation and frustrating are off-putting and injurious to a person’s likelihood of getting whatever it is they want. Whether you’re selling stuff, looking for a date, or applying for a a job it is absolutely in your best interests to minimize the degree to which your inside negative feelings become outside negative expressions that people can pick up on.

                The message isn’t “cheer up” but rather “feel however you feel, but maintain your bearing if you want to get this job”.

              2. BRR

                We recently had a candidate who was incredibly frustrated at their current job (and rightfully so). It was felt through their entire interview and left everyone with a negative impression. It wasn’t the only reason they were rejected but it was a contributing factor.

                1. Logan

                  While I was at a toxic job I had a job interview with people who knew my manager, and I really limited what I said until after I was hired, for exactly this reason. Even now I don’t volunteer to talk about the manager, although she’s been removed from management because she was such a problem so it’s no secret, and if asked about her I am happy to be factual, while prefacing my comments with “this is what you should avoid, if you want to be a manager”. Only after leaving that toxic job did I realise how bad things really are, but I occasionally meet up with former colleagues and it’s definitely most cathartic to vent with them.

                2. CupcakeCounter

                  I was that candidate once (the interview was immediately after a particularly bad interaction) – also didn’t get the job

            2. stebuu

              It sounds like the way the original poster is acting is directly detrimental to getting the job. The original poster wants the job, and is looking for advice. Advice is being given. The comments people are making are a feature, not a bug.

              1. Labradoodle Daddy

                This may be splitting hairs but I saw it as lack of context for how recruiting works, not common sense in general (which I think the “don’t let interviewers see your stress” would reasonably fall under.

                1. Zillah

                  It is splitting hairs, yes. The material point is that it’s important to hide some of your feelings when you’re talking to people who you want to give you a job, even when those feelings are totally justified. Parsing over “common sense” when that characterization was a response to you accusing people of being condescending and not to the OP is really setting other commenters up.

            3. kittymommy

              Except “don’t let them see you stressed” does not equal “stay positive/happy/whatever”. I think that’s why everyone is confused. The LW is stressed, deservedly so, this is a stressful situation (and I’ve been in it), but expressing that stress to the interviewers, intentionally or not, will not make the situation better or easier to deal with. Maybe the LW hadn’t thought/realized she may be doing this and WellRed was giving some (possible) insight.

              1. Labradoodle Daddy

                I just think it isn’t helpful to assume OP doesn’t have basic common sense. Not knowing the ins and outs of recruiting wouldn’t fall under that umbrella.

                1. [insert witty username here]

                  I don’t think WellRed is assuming OP doesn’t have common sense; I think they are helpfully pointing out something that the OP potentially can’t see in themselves (that they *could* sound bitter/desperate) because OP is too close to the situation.

                2. Copier Admin Girl

                  I appreciate your desire to advocate on the OP’s behalf, but please try to step back and read the comments from a place outside of your own experience. No one is arguing that the OP has no common sense. I personally think they were very sensible to seek advice in this community! We want to help as a team- let’s stop splitting hairs.

                3. Detective Amy Santiago

                  As a person who is prone to falling into emotional stress spirals, I find these reminders helpful. It’s very easy to caught up in your own head and not realize how you are coming across.

                4. sunny-dee

                  But calling a recruiter twice in a single morning — and then wanting to complain about them to HR — isn’t a lack of understanding about recruiting practices. It stems from (and signals) desperation.

                5. JSPA

                  I didn’t find the original comment belittling. Your reading of it here, however pretty much says that only a person without basic common sense could suffer from emotional overinvestment in a particular employer (or job). That’s actually belittling in its own right.

                  Feeling personally judged, personally over-invested and weighed down by one’s history can happen on any job search. But they’re supercharged when you’re re-applying to a place where they know you, like(d) you, but still (for Reasons) had to let you go.

                  It’s certainly possible that OP’s old employer for holding out for someone new who might be golden (because they have not seen their rough bits, yet) rather than going with OP, the known quantity. But OP can theoretically be the shiny new person of infinite possibility literally anywhere else except their old workplace. So rather than resenting their old employer, or second-guessing themselves because the ones who know them don’t want them back, OP should broaden the search. Just to change the dynamic of it, and to open up new ways of being a candidate.

            4. Copier Admin Girl

              Labradoodle Daddy, it is unhelpful of you to argue over semantics rather than offer something constructive for the OP (or other commenters who mean well). You seem to empathize with OP’s situation- maybe that would put you in a a particularly good place to offer your thoughts on their predicament. Use your empathy to help rather than turn defensive and double down on it when questioned.
              And, fwiw, “don’t let interviewers see you bitter” IS important to remember. Especially in this situation when I could understand the OP feeling a little bitter with all of this compound frustration. You can feel all of your feelings but you need to work through them if you’re hoping to be successful in a professional situation and not experience spillover.

              1. Labradoodle Daddy

                “And, fwiw, “don’t let interviewers see you bitter” IS important to remember.”

                The point I’m trying to make is that grown adults already know this, and comments like that (reminding them) can be condescending because like I said…. duh, they already know this.

                1. Copier Admin Girl

                  Emotion clouds judgment all the time. Sure, adults may know this, but OP is clearly distressed. That can cloud judgment. I don’t blame them! It is stressful. That’s why it’s important to come to communities like this to have those reminders from those who understand most. No one is asserting that they lack common sense- please refer to my other reply to you where I stated that I believe the OP is quire sensible. However, because they are upset and frustrated, it is quite easy- and human- to act less than rationally.

                2. Jule

                  Grown adults know many things that they sometimes have trouble putting into practice. We ALL benefit from being reminded of common sense knowledge that applies to our specific situations from time to time. It’s okay not to read malevolence and unemployment-shaming into everyone’s comments.

                3. TootsNYC

                  And also this: Allison’s answers, and the comments, are not JUST for the OP. How many people don’t we hear from who say they learned so much from reading the archives?

                  So having that reminder out there may be a helpful reminder for very many people beyond our OP.

                4. TRex

                  No. Maybe some adults don’t know this would impact their chances… or maybe they need to be reminded of it. Whatever the case, it’s good advice.

            5. Myrin

              I promise I’m not being deliberately obtuse but… where are you reading that in WR’s comment, especially with an emphasis such as the quintuple exlamation points?
              Her comment is nothing more than “Unfortunately, the frustration/desperation can probably be felt by those on the other side of the hiring desk. LW, can you widen your job search?”.
              I guess you can read “don’t let them see your stress” into that speculation about what the people on the other side can sense but on its face, that’s just… a true statement? These people are indeed likely to be feeling OP’s desperation and frustration and it’s important to acknowledge that. WR didn’t even add any suggestions to this sentence (like “the desperation can probably be felt so you may want to tone it down a little” or similar) so I’m really not getting the intensity here.

              1. Labradoodle Daddy

                I’m not feeling particularly intense about this. I guess I have a wider distaste for people who are trying to help but can unintentionally be condescending/short sighted/whatever when doing so.

        3. Washi

          I took this as WellRed warning the OP against something that is understandable but won’t work in her favor. If the OP is following up this intensely with recruiters in other positions, she might be shooting herself in the foot.

          1. Labradoodle Daddy

            This could me being overly sensitive (although I have seen other commenters express a similar sentiment in the past) but I firmly read these comments as vaguely condescending, as if the unemployed person isn’t 1. in an understandably INCREDIBLY stressful situation 2. able to figure out for themselves that you present your best self in an interview. I’m not sure I’m expressing this very well but these kind of comments just annoy me.

            1. ACDC

              I get where you’re coming from Labradoodle Daddy, but the fact of the matter is it’s friendly advice to someone going through a rough time. If OP was my friend and we knew each other personally, of course I would give them slack for going through something so difficult. A hiring manager or recruiter, however, is not OP’s friend in any way, and whether good or bad, will be judged based off of her overall demeanor. This comment is suggesting that OP make sure they aren’t portraying themselves in a certain way to hiring managers and recruiters, a way that would be particularly off putting at that.

        4. ThankYouRoman

          It’s an advice blog. It takes weeding through the advice given to see if it’s going to stick.

          Honestly you don’t get many jobs while unable to control your emotions. Life isn’t fair. It’s why we need advice blogs at all.

        5. Les G

          Ironic to call something tone deaf when all you’re doing is tone policing. Only on this site could a commenter take issue with someone literally saying “good luck with your problem and hope things improve!”

          1. Jo

            No, actually, she wasn’t tone policing. That isn’t what tone policing means.

            And I’m tired of everyone overusing/downright misusing that term anytime someone holds them accountable for how they’re addressing others.

            1. sunny-dee

              “Accountable”? No no no no. Nothing WR said was offensive, wrong, or condescending. Labradoodle took offense over “tone” — that’s tone policing. And in this case, it’s misplaced. There is certainly no call to “hold someone accountable” for a good natured comment that basically no one else took as condescending or superfluous.

    2. HS Teacher

      Agreed. OP, it sucks that you’re in this position. However, getting frustrated with this recruiter is not the answer. Be careful not to project your anger onto someone who could potentially help you get a job.

  2. Roscoe

    I think Alison had a great answer here. It sounds like you are frustrated and in not a great situation. But you are really misplacing your anger here. Objectively, nothing this recruiter did sounded bad to me. Hell, he got back to you, that is more than a lot of companies do these days.

    Also, what I will say (and this is going to be unpopular on this site) assuming discrimination will do nothing for you. I’m black. My little brother (who is kind of a screw up with no real skills) always assumes that when he has an interview with a white manager, and he doesn’t get the job, that the reason was because the boss was racist. There is nothing to say that racism may be the case except his wounded ego. Even if it WAS the case, he couldn’t ever prove it in the first place. But what I’ve told him is that it makes him stop looking at what he can improve on next time. How HE can be the best candidate possible. But when its just “RACISM” or in your case age discrimination, it makes you not look internally at all and just blame external factors.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      I agree with this. I understand your frustration, but taking it out on your recruiter is not doing yourself any favors. If you are kind and easy to work with, recruiters will bust their butts to find you something. If you are difficult, they will move on and work with other candidates. Also, if the company has multiple offices, the recruiter may not have known the job was posted for another location. Those responsibilities can be very separated.

      And yes, absent any other indicators, simply not being hired is not proof of any sort of discrimination. I understand why it’s comforting to jump to that conclusion instead of accepting that you may not have been the strongest candidate, but going in expecting discrimination is going to backfire.

    2. IndoorCat

      I’ve been in the same boat with disability. I can’t work any jobs that involve standing or walking much due to my disability, which rules out most early-in-life jobs like food service, stocking shelves or retail.

      I was trying to find work part-time in college, and I was beginning to get bitter because the pool of jobs I was qualified for was already quite small and I wasn’t having luck. Eventually a friend of mine told me, like, “yeah, some managers are ableist. So? Knowing that information, what are you going to *do* about it? Because right now, what you’re choosing to do is self-sabotage by not putting in a lot of effort. If you believe some people are sub-consciously ableist, you can still try to get them to change their mind, and push back on any subconscious prejudice, by being the absolute best candidate. If you’re good enough, they’ll question any initial assumptions they made and take a chance on you. But you have to be good.”

      It was a good pep talk. One that my parents had tried to give me already, but I wouldn’t listen to because, you know, ~parents~! What do they know? I was nineteen and knew everything, haha. So, I’m glad I was able to hear it from another source.

      1. Diverse Anon

        So true. I know some people will be biased against me, so in interviews I go out of my way to address those concerns up front. You think I’m not qualified? Here are all my qualifications. You think I’m going to be a firestarter? I’m going to dress super conservatively and tell you about times I worked well with others. Until people stop judging me before they know me, this is how I have to play the game.

    3. Glitsy Gus

      +1
      I’m starting to fall into the age discrimination bracket, and I get where you’re coming from on this, though obviously I can’t understand the specifics of race in comparison to age bias.

      I did have one experience that made me stop and think… wait… this feels off, I really think they just don’t like me because I’m older than them. At the same time, I don’t have proof; either to use as evidence to an external party or to prove it to myself. It’s a hunch, and while I don’t want to completely ignore the hunch, like you said, if I lean into it it kills any opportunity I have from taking other lessons and experiences from the situation. It’s tough, but at the same time I can’t do anything about it if I’m right, and I may as well not shoot myself in the foot if I’m wrong.

    4. Classic Rando

      I have an ex who was like this but in reverse. He’s a white guy with a spotty work history, terrible attendance, and I assume not great references from most of his past jobs. And based on his own descriptions of interview conversations, says all the stuff you’re not supposed to in interviews and ends up tanking them completely. But when good employers pass him over? Can’t possibly be him, it’s affirmative action’s fault. This attitude does him no good, and when he finally would get hired (for a less desirable job), he usually ended up sabotaging himself with it.

      I’m not saying you’re to blame here, but when a job search isn’t going well, focusing on external forces usually won’t help you. You just end up in a frustrating cycle, focusing on everybody else. All you can control is yourself, so the best thing you can do is expand your search, practice your answers, get that cover letter perfect, and put your best foot forward.

      1. Artemesia

        It is hard because discrimination does exist, but still plenty of old women and young black guys do get hired so focusing on what you control and not the odds against is all you can do.

        And I know two specific cases where white guys complained about not getting a job because of affirmative action ‘they had to hire a woman or minority’ when I knew that the person hired in the position was a white guy. I had someone try to argue age discrimination when I didn’t interview him for a position (which he was well qualified for except we had negative internal recs from a previous stint in our organization and he was a horse’s patoot); I hired two people in the positions he was going for. One was a 60 year old man and the other a 55 year old woman.

      2. pony tailed wonder

        My father said this so many times in the 70’s when he was out of work. He thought he was being discriminated against so many times as a white man with a college degree. JMO, I think it was all the drinking he did but you were not supposed to mention that as his kid. It was the elephant in the room.

  3. your favorite person

    I fell for OP, but they come off very entitled in this letter. I hope they able to see that the recruiter isn’t conspiring against them and see that maybe they could just not be right for the company. Also, complaining about the recruiter being a millennial, then complaining about age discrimination… isn’t great. (and I know that being a millennial isn’t a protected age, but it comes of very much ‘pot calling kettle’)

    1. Katie

      Entitled was exactly the word that came to mind when I read this. And yes, complaining about millennial and age discrimination also puts some of the blame off the OP as a candidate too – maybe they weren’t as qualified as they thought, maybe their previous work history there worked against them. I also didn’t feel like the previous manager really endorsed the idea of them working there again. There was no explicit “Apply, and I’ll get you an interview” offered. I feel like there are other things going on there. Tough situation for the OP to be in, for sure!

      1. Carnaxide

        Agreed. It felt like the previous manager was being polite but not jumping up to assist or support hiring.

        It also sounds like this place is comfortable hiring people from their contact roles and if performance in a role there was an issue before I wonder if you can’t unring that bell at this point.

        I know it’s frustrating and wish you the best OP. Perhaps once you look into other roles you’ll find something even better than this place.

        1. Plain Jane

          I had the same thought as you & Katie regarding the former boss’s response.

          Years ago I worked as an assistant at a book publisher, and I responded to people who emailed us wanting to get published. Whether the email was a one-line, “How do I get you guys to publish my book?” or a long email with a lot of details, I always just sent instructions on how to submit a proposal to us – the instructions did not mean, “OMG, please send us that proposal ASAP because that email sounds like the next Harry Potter.” All the email meant was “here’s how to submit a proposal to us if YOU want to. This doesn’t imply that we are interested at this point.”

    2. stebuu

      If I was the hiring manager and was shown this letter, I would think I dodged a bullet by not bringing in the person for an interview.

    3. Jadelyn

      I got that sense, too. OP, I get that you really, really want to work there, and you really, really believe you’d be amazing in that role. But that’s really, really not your call to make, and pressuring the hell out of the company and lashing out because they didn’t hire you, isn’t going to make them more likely to want to hire you.

      I used to do a lot of the recruiting for my org, and we’ve had a couple candidates who applied numerous times despite being rejected each time. A few times, I can understand. But once you’re past like…2-3 times for the same position (if it’s been filled and then reopened a couple times, for example), and maybe half a dozen times in general if it’s all spread out among different positions, you’re gaining notoriety as That Candidate Who Won’t Take A Hint, and it’s going to make them less interested in you, not more. They’ll start wondering if you’d be the kind of coworker who never lets anything go, ever, even when told to drop an issue, or who is combative in disagreements with coworkers.

      Also, there’s just a…vibe, that really desperate/pushy candidates tend to give off, and it’s really not a good look. Give me two equivalent candidates, one of whom is clearly desperate and getting overly invested, the other of whom is confident but giving me space to make my decision, and I know which one I’ll want to hire, all other things being equal.

      1. EditorInChief

        From your perspective Jadelyn when someone applies to multiple positions at your org, but the jobs aren’t necessarily in the same department or division do you get the sense that they are just randomly applying to everything because they just want any job? One thing that struck me with OP’s letter is that she applied for two jobs that in my mind are very different – customer service and editor. Would that raise any flags for you?

        1. Oxford Comma

          I’m in an academia so here if you don’t meet the required qualifications, we can’t even consider you. We’ve had people apply for jobs they are patently unqualified for. Like new grads applying for upper management positions. Then they apply for every single other posting we have, again not meeting the basic qualifications. And by the time they apply for one for which they are actually qualified, we don’t want to look at them, and to be honest, we don’t look at them. Those people end up on an unwritten list.

          For the OP, I think if you really want to work at this company, you’re going to have to work somewhere else for a while and rebuild your cred up. Let some time pass, demonstrate that you’ve worked through the health issues, and then reapply. But I don’t think it’s going to do you any good to keep trying to storm the gates.

        2. Jadelyn

          I realize I’m coming back a day late to reply to this, but I’ll go ahead and answer anyway.

          And it’s basically a question of what the jobs are, and what the candidate profile is.

          If someone with a degree and many years of work history, whose last job on their resume ends a few months ago, applies for an entry-level customer service role, and also applies for a mid-level role in marketing which is what their degree is in – I read that and all I think is, “Oh, they’re at the “any job is better than no job” point. Poor guy/lady.” It won’t really affect their candidacy, and if they’re qualified I’ll move them forward to either/both hiring managers with a note that they’ve applied to multiple roles just so the managers know to coordinate instead of paralleling their interview processes. That’s what OP would probably read as, to me. It wouldn’t get them blacklisted or anything.

          But if someone with just a couple of years of work history, whose last job on their resume says “x-present”, applies to a mid-level role in marketing, a mid-level role in IT, and an entry-level role in accounting, then that looks like a shotgun approach and I’m going to be mildly side-eyeing them. If they’re qualified, I’ll still move them forward (depending on the candidate pool), so it’s not a total dealbreaker, but it does color my opinion of them overall and may affect their chances.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood

        I’m intrigued here because I did land my current position on a second application for the same position. The difference? It was a two-year gap. In the meantime I worked somewhere else in a tangentially related position, for an only marginally related industry. So when I first applied to industrial Teakettles, my most recent role was in the editorial department of Teapot Industry Weekly. Two years later I had been a software development project manager for CeramicSoftware, and they saw another side of my skillset so I got the initial interview.

    4. Mommy MD

      I’m definitely no millennial but I’m very tired of the millennial negative insinuations. Very. And two calls is too much. Email is fine.

      1. EditorInChief

        Most of my reporter/editors and millenials and I love working with them! They are hardworking, inquisitive and very earnest about doing a good job. I’ve mentored several over the past decade and to use the cliche I learned as much from them as they did from me.

        1. boo bot

          Something that’s had a surprisingly positive effect on my mindset is installing the chrome extension that changes the word “millennial” to “snake person” everywhere.

          Linked in my signature, for anyone who wants it.

          1. boo bot

            OK, not linked in my signature for some reason. It’s a chrome extension – if you have Google chrome, it’s there.

      2. your favorite person

        I honestly was just telling my husband last night it was a played out stereotype. No one really says things like that any more- whoops. A majority of millennials are in their 30’s now!

          1. your favorite person

            Yep! Admittedly, I am a dreaded millennial so I’m biased but I don’t find my communication styles all that different than most of the folks I work with (all ages, but mostly 45-65). I would say at this point about 70% prefer email and 30% prefer over the phone/in person. And those folks don’t split definitively in age buckets.

          2. solar flare

            the oldest millennials are 35 this year, if you go by the definition of “was coming of age [under 18] at the turn of the millennium”

          3. Serendipity

            Can confirm. I’m a millennial.

            I’ve also been married more than a decade, have three children, a couple of mortgages, work mid-level as an SME in a global company and am married to a C-level guy, also a millennial.
            Oh, and an old school friend is legitimately a grandmother.

            Millennial = middle aged

        1. The Original K.

          I read a headline within the last few months that asked whether millennials should hold public office and I was thinking “Yes, what is the issue with someone in their 20s or 30s holding public office?” Generation Z is the generation that would be too young. (I’m a millennial in her 30s.)

        2. ThankYouRoman

          My standard response to people bashing my generation is “Hooters had to die so that Avocado Toast could live.”

          I have started just owning all that gets blamed on us. Since yes, it’s dissolved into killing HOOTERS.

          1. Drop Bear

            My daughters’ – both millennials – go to joke when something goes wrong is, ‘Obviously some millennial eating avocado on toast is to blame’. :)

            1. ThankYouRoman

              Single handedly propping up the avocado industry by destroying all isn’t blessed to be a green spreadable luxury.

          2. TootsNYC

            My kid is a millennial, and she has the same sarcastic, wry humor in taking credit for destroying things.

    5. Cheryl Blossom

      I wish people would stop with the “millennial” thing. Older millennials are in their 30s now!

      1. MissPettyAndVindictive

        Yes! I’m 28, and have more than once had people try the “bah, millenials, amirite?” on me and I’m like…you realise I am one? And then they feel all awkward about it when I ask what they meant XD

        1. TootsNYC

          yeah, they really just mean “kids these days,” but “millennial” feels so nice coming off the tongue.

          1. Catgirl123

            Yes I think people confuse millennial as a term for this. My old boss used to say this without realizing that I was a millennial and the 17 years olds she was talking about were not. We are getting married, having kids, and have been in the workforce for over a decade (the older ones at least).

            1. Random Commenter

              Ugh! An old boss would complain about millenials to me. He was only 3 years older than me and we are both comfortably within the millenial group. When I pointed this out he was like “no, but we’re not REALLY millenials because we don’t act that way. What bothers me are the REAL millenials that are entitled and [blah blah blah]”.

              It was such a “close but no potato” moment. He was right there on the verge of getting, yet a good old “no true Scotsman” fallacy was preferred.

          1. EditorInChief

            Depending on who you ask, Millenials are roughly born 1981-79 so the oldest ones are around 37.

      1. Les G

        Ehhhh, harassment has an actual meaning and this ain’t it. Someone can cross the line (which, oh man, OP has) without committing a crime.

    6. MissPettyAndVindictive

      I had the exact same feeling reading the letter. It sucked almost all the sympathy I had out the window and left me feeling frustrated with the OP. The company doesn’t have to hire OP just because OP really wants to work there!
      The “clean up his act” line really ended all sympathy for me – he was doing his job. OP, you were being entitled.
      I highly doubt it was age discrimination – 56 isn’t all that old in the scheme of admin work. I think, unfortunately, the recruiter (and company) may have gotten the same vibe I did when reading this.

      1. atexit8

        As some over the age of 50, 56 is old in many companies and it is often rooted in economics as in lower pay for someone younger and lower cost to insure the individuals.

        .

        1. MissPettyAndVindictive

          Huh – here you can’t pay someone less because of age, and because we have free healthcare insurance doesn’t come into it. All my colleagues are on either the same pay step as me, or slightly over or slightly under, but we’re all making almost the same per hour. I’m one of the younger admins where I work, most of the teams are made up of people over 40, up to their 60s.

    7. Jasnah

      “Also, complaining about the recruiter being a millennial, then complaining about age discrimination… isn’t great. (and I know that being a millennial isn’t a protected age, but it comes of very much ‘pot calling kettle’)”

      This is exactly what I thought. This is exactly why I can’t wait to have “age” be a protected class, not just over 40.

      1. Laoise

        Hey, older millenials are only 3 years away from being in that protected age class! We’ll have it soon either way!

        (Although where I live in Alberta, protection from age discrimination does start at 18. But with population numbers, most identified millennials are subject to the US rules and we’re almost there!)

  4. Amber Rose

    You say you don’t think an email would have got a response but you don’t actually know because you didn’t try. The recruiter’s behavior is not the issue.

    When someone tells you how they prefer to be communicated with, please listen to them. I know you’re frustrated and unhappy and broke and everything seems awful. You want to find someone to direct all that negativity at. I’ve been there. Many of us have. But digging in your heels about what you think people should be doing or what their job really involves is not helping you, and is almost certainly making things worse.

    I feel like you’ve set this place on a pedestal as The Solution To All Problems, and that’s not fair to you or them. It’s time to broaden your scope.

    1. submerged tenths

      This +1000!
      OP, your pain is real, and your situation is indeed crappy. But focusing on *how* crappy just makes it feel worse. Please find other places to apply! Alison is right on that this one may not be “meant” for you, for whatever reason.

    2. drpuma

      Hard agree. I’m also 6+ months into a job search, and some days I definitely want to pull my hair out. I limit myself to 1, maaaybe 2 follow-up check-ins after each interview (not counting the thank-you email). I’m trying to keep myself focused on moving forward and not trip myself up by looking backward. It can be so hard, especially as my shrinking budget limits my options for extracurricular fun. But sticking to that former momentum has meant that at least I feel like my options are always increasing. If you’ve spent a lot of time looking backward at this opportunity OP, maybe it’s time to look forward for some new possibilities. I wish you the best of luck, it’s tough out there.

    3. fposte

      Yes, I’ve heard people talk about this as the fallacy of the Magic Thing. But in reality the Thing is not Magic–it would be just a job with some people who don’t like you and weird smells in the kitchen–so this puts a high chance of disappointment if you get it, and since it’s not the only Thing that’s out there there’s a high risk of missing a Good Thing that isn’t Magic.

      I would also really, really counsel the OP away from what I’m terming “generationalism”–LIS is a field with a lot of valuable capital in millennials and post-millennials, and it actually risks marking somebody as dated and out of touch to pigeonhole professionals based on their age.

      1. Amber Rose

        I fall victim to The Magic Thing a LOT when I’m depressed. When things are very bad, it’s easy to think that just one Thing is going to instantly solve all my problems if I can just grab it. And if it doesn’t, well, maybe it’s this other Thing.

        But it doesn’t exist. It hurts to accept that, because the alternative is a lot of hard work for a long time with no guarantees. But you gotta, because chasing one Thing after another is not the slightest bit healthy. It’s a guarantee against ever being happy.

        1. Jadelyn

          Same. I’m trying to learn how to balance it so I can commit to trying a new thing/habit/whatever, without either latching onto it as the Magic Thing OR preemptively giving up because I’m trying to keep myself from going all Magic Thing on it.

    4. Psyche

      I think it is also that calling can be very easy for you too fit into your short break, but it probably is interrupting the recruiter who has different priorities. E-mail allows both of you to fit it into your schedule with the least disruption. Unfortunately, the cost is a delay in getting a response. By insisting on a phone call, you are sending the message that your time and convenience is more valuable than theirs.

    5. Catgirl123

      Yes! I respond much quicker to emails than I do phone calls. Especially if it is just a quick question. I have someone who I work with who will call for everything, even to ask to send her something over email, it drives me crazy.

  5. August

    Oof. I’m sorry, OP, I know (oh my god, do I know) how frustrating job searching can be, especially when you’ve set your sights on the “perfect” company/position. I’d really encourage you to split what free time you have between your job search and your own mental health. Take walks, read books, have dinner with friends, whatever! But channeling all of your frustration over your current job, your future prospects, your past efforts with this company, etc. is going to burn you out. Best of luck!

  6. Red Lines with Wine

    Could it be your resume? It’s possible your advanced library science degree along with a smattering of temp, retail, and administrative jobs is not communicating your skills as effectively as you think. You’ll want to translate what you did at those roles to what companies are looking for; don’t expect your degree and experience to speak for themselves. You should be customizing your resume for each position, calling out the transferable skills and relevant experience instead of just using the same resume for each job. An experienced resume writer will be able to help you with this and it shouldn’t cost very much to get a review.

    1. Met

      I would also look at volunteering roles which coincide with your degree and could help beef up your resume. I agree with With Red Lines with wine on this.

      I would also maybe start looking out of state where you live. Look at university/community college websites. Many times they have temporary and full time sections for applications and I would recommend looking at both as you usually can get a temp role (some universities also offer health care with temp it’s just more costly for you) quickly while waiting for the background checks of a full time. I would just look in sectors you may not have looked at before.

      A good attitude also helps and using this website to help with your cover letter, resume. And answering tough interview questions will help.

      I was in a similar position after 2008, but never giving up, having a great attitude and writing a targeted resume helped me land a good role that in turn got me great ones. I had to move far away for a few years though. Good luck!

  7. misplacedmidwesterner

    On your comment about why he would ask you where it was posted, it is all the reasons that Alison mentioned (someone else posted, it reposted automatically, it was a mistake, etc). But I also know as a hiring manager and someone who coordinates events, that our job postings and events get reposted all the time by aggregators with mistakes in them. (Like 200 people showing up at the wrong time because the aggregator pays for google ads and thus has a higher google result) So if it was a mistake, he could legitimately be asking to try to track down the source of misinformation because it might not be him.

    1. Plain Jane

      Yes, think about this LW; he wants to know why the position was erroneously reposted so it doesn’t happen again – he doesn’t want to field emails or calls about positions that don’t exist, nor does he want to disappoint future candidates.

      1. Lily

        Yeah, my first thought when I read this was the recruiter going “oh Cecil, has he posted the wrong ad AGAIN?” and not some elaborate lying-scheme. Way to complicated. OP, your reaction is over the top.

        Also, in the unlike case that he was lying to you, what would you want to do about it? You don’t confront a business partner (or really, anyone) about a white lie. That’s just obnoxious.

    2. Rainy

      There’s an aggregator out there that just scrapes jobs posted on other sites and is for some reason used a lot by students and I’ve had to explain several times that you need to check somewhere more reliable to make sure the job is still posted by the actual company and not just the aggregator.

  8. Jennifleurs

    I too have cried after getting rejections, and I too have had a company tell me conflicting things about a role they immediately reposted. But it really sounds like you’re getting very, very …. I cant think of the right word because “invested” sounds wrong, but … very involved in the results of applications. If you wanted t search the blog, there are loads of great posts about how it’s important not to view applications as all-important but to try and put them out of your mind – it really helped me.

    Try to find somewhere else that excites you, as well, it can’t be just that place surely? Wish you the bets of luck OP.

  9. Oxford Comma

    Sometimes when you’re under a lot of stress, which sounds very much like it’s the case here, it’s hard to maintain perspective. I have been there. I get it. I have been dealing with chronic sleep issues as well and I really do know what a number that can do on you.

    Take the recruiter at their word. Abide by their communication preferences and do your best to try and not take this so personally.

    I don’t know your library background, but I do know that community colleges often hire part time people and that might give you a respite from retail positions until you get that dream full-time position. Yes, I know those jobs don’t typically come with benefits, but they would pay better than retail and are less stressful.

    Best of luck to you.

  10. Falling Diphthong

    ” If they weren’t impressed last time, that could definitely be a factor now.”

    This is the most likely explanation. I agree with Alison–you can keep applying just in case, but should broaden your search to other places. That may also be the undertone of your roommate and aunt’s advice–that in their view you’re locked all your strategies onto this one spot that won’t ever pan out.

  11. stebuu

    The way a hiring manager is probably viewing this is “somebody who we laid off for performance reasons is applying to lots of jobs here”. That might not be fair, but that is how a hiring manager has summed you up. The odds are very strong you won’t get a job at this company for at least a couple years.

  12. FaintlyMacabre

    Ohhh, I feel for you. The desperation from working a terrible job can be so, so intense, especially when a shiny orb of possible perfection beckons you. I have been there, working a terrible job, desperately wanting to work for a local company that seemed so great for me. I interviewed three times! And on my last interview, they even said they appreciate that I keep applying and how great some of my qualifications are. And I kept being passed over for someone else. It sucks. It sucks. It sucks. Easier said than done, but don’t invest in yourself in someone or something that isn’t invested in you. Keep trying elsewhere. I’m rooting for you!

  13. Mommy MD

    OP, I feel very bad for your circumstances but no one did anything wrong here. Definitely do not leave negative postings or call to complain. It will reflect poorly on you. I’d just mark off this particular company and extend my search elsewhere and consider possible new job descriptions. I think it’s most likely the temporary position that did not work out is a factor with this company passing. Good luck. I hope you find something soon.

    1. Tehmorp

      I hear that at some companies, when you leave they basically mark you either “eligible” or “ineligible” for rehire, and if you were marked “ineligible”, there’s probably nothing anyone could do, barring exceptional circumstances like, “the CEO wants you.”

      1. Les G

        But then why would the former supervisor encourage OP to reapply? Let’s not fearmonger with worst case scenarios, maybe?

        1. TheRedCoat

          “Encourage” can be vague wording. I don’t want to fall afoul of the speculation rules, but ‘You can certainly try applying again if you’d like.’ and ‘You’re free! Apply AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!’ can both be read as being ‘encouraged’, depending on how good someone is at reading a room.

        2. Plain Janw

          Per the LW, the former supervisor just said she was glad the LW was feeling better and to check the website for openings. That’s a pretty standard response to people inquiring about returning to a former employer.

          1. Dr. Johnny Fever

            That’s a pretty standard response from a former employer who doesn’t want to rehire you. If the former employer was truly encouraging, she might give a tip on a job and talk to the hiring manager, or ask for a resume and forward it to a hiring manager.

            Directing someone to the website is the standard for any inquirer.

            1. Lilo

              I read it this way as well. I would never just tell someone they won’t get a job if they apply, that is just a bad idea, not to mention not my place (I don’t control hiring for my whole org).

              But “check the website” is the bare minimum. Sounds like the boss was being polite but bit really encouraging.

          2. SS Express

            If anything, “check the website for openings” sounds *discouraging* to me. If I contacted an ex-manager about coming back to work at the organisation, I’d hope they’d offer to put in a good word or give me a reference or something.

        3. ThankYouRoman

          It’s more that you never ever discourage someone from “trying” even if it’s an automatic “no” due to a flag in the system.

          The ever fearful HR idea that everyone is going to sue you and win is in play. Then you get into WHY am I not eligible for rehire? And demands for your personnel file.

          Btw you are within your rights to demand to review the file if anyone isn’t aware of it.

          1. Plain Jane

            Or maybe the former supervisor wouldn’t rehire her but she doesn’t want to speak for every Hiring Manager in the company.

        4. Effective Immediately

          It’s also possible, depending on the size of the company, that the former supervisor does not know the OP is ineligible for rehire. Most places I’ve worked, that information is housed in HR and that eligibility determination is sometimes made by the HR Department independently.

      2. all the candycorn

        And to add to that:

        I’ve seen people marked ineligible for rehire for very silly reasons. I found an old HR form in a pile of employee papers where my predecessor had checked the wrong box and marked an employee who I knew she thought highly of as ineligible for rehire when he moved away.

        I’ve also seen people marked ineligible for rehire for political reasons, ex: the person whose job it was to fill out the form didn’t like them, or was angry they found another job, even though they did nothing to otherwise merit the designation.

  14. ToS

    LW, I know that 1:1 matches are a focal point with the degree that you have. One other category of employer that would appreciate the skills behind the degree is a college or university. Use library as a search term on the specialized sites to see what is out there. Also, being fluent in rising technology is also an asset with the rise in digital media that libraries handle, so look at your interactions and communications as an opportunity to reinforce the high level of your skills and abilities.

    1. Ender Wiggin

      I concur. Consider options like this. I had a similar situation a few years ago where I was trying to get into one of the few jobs in my country that my PhD made me uniquely qualified for. I lost out to someone with a couple of years more experience. I then applied to that org for a lower level job hoping to work my way up. They said I was overqualified. I looked into all the opportunities in my narrow PhD-related field and basically at that time there was nothing that paid well enough. So I looked into related fields. Switched my focus did a little research and reduced my salary expectations a few percent. I got hired to the first job I applied for in this parallel field. I took a bit of a salary cut compared to my previous role but 2years later I’m back up above where I used to be.

      Which is all a long winded way of saying: it’s not a choice between this specific employer and retail management. It’s a choice between a whole load of other things your degree qualifies you for.

      Also, I know you hate retail, but while you continue to job search, there’s no harm in moving up a little in retail. Better to hate your job as a retail manager on a higher salary than hate your job as a retail assistant on a lower salary!

  15. Doug Judy

    Oh OP, I feel for you. I have been on what feels like a never ending job search to find a “home” taking jobs that aren’t what I want just to pay the bills. It can be absolutely soul crushing. I know what it feels like to know what you want to do and not be able to clear that last hurdle and get an offer. Those rejections sting, especially when you are feel desperate and trapped. I get all of it. It sucks big time. But like Alison says, you can’t make them hire you. Take a few days to regroup and come up with a completely fresh plan. I hope soon you will have a great update that you found something you love.

  16. WellRed

    This letter reminds me of one from a few year’s back where the writer wanted to get hired by a particular healthcare system and kept applying and applying (and had even worked there, I believe). I mean, that one went way overboard, but the similarities are in the over investment in getting a job HERE. AT THIS COMPANY.

  17. CM

    I echo the sympathy from other commenters — you’re going through a tough time. I think you need to separate your personal frustration and despair from your interactions with recruiters and hiring managers. You’re feeling desperate and angry and that’s important, but it’s not their problem or their fault. Projecting that frustration and anger on to recruiters and hiring managers will make them not want to hire you.

    From the perspective of the recruiter, here’s your story: Guy was fired for repeatedly sleeping on the job. Now he applied for three different jobs with the same company. He keeps interrupting my work with phone calls when I specifically instructed him to email me. He practically accused me of lying about a job posting. I don’t want to deal with this person.

    I know that’s harsh, but it would be fair for the recruiter to think that.

  18. Met

    I would also say most people get put off by desperation, so I would try to always be positive in your interactions and responses. Try and don’t chase them so much, let them come to you while also being responsive and interested.

  19. Dust Bunny

    I do not have an MLIS but I work in a library and most of what I hear is that any jobs for which an MLIS might be an advantage draw huge numbers of applicants. I don’t have numbers on this but my impression is that the library/archive discipline is pretty well glutted, although schools aren’t eager to admit that. This company might have an advantage if it’s private, as opposed to a library system that is at the mercy of public funding, but you may still be up against hordes of other candidates.

    1. Salamander

      I have found this to be the case when job searching. I do have an MLIS, and it is really, really competitive out there. I always had to start out in an organization with part-time positions as eventual stepping stones to FT.

      I feel for the OP, I really do. But there are a lot of super-qualified candidates out there and not enough jobs to go around. I ultimately wound up going down another career path. It’s one of those things where supply exceeds demand, sadly.

      And one’s network is super-critical to helping to ferret out positions where one might fit in. It sounds as if the OP had issues on the previous job, and it doesn’t sound as if the prior manager wants to vouch for her to rehire. Which is very, very disappointing. But it may be time to take a step back, figure out how OP’s professional network can assist, and widen the field of possible employers, roles, geography, and industries. This one employer may just not ever happen. And OP is expending a lot of emotional energy in this direction that might be more fruitful elsewhere.

      1. J.E.

        This is why, even though I work in a library, I haven’t gotten my MLIS. I’m not geographically mobile and I hear from so many that if you want to find a full time librarian job, you have to be willing to move, sometimes to a not very desirable location in order to secure that first full time librarian position. I also don’t want to go into debt for a degree and then not be able to work in that field. Also since many library positions are in the public sector, budgets are an issue, and even if they want to hire more librarians, may not be able to due to budget cuts/stagnate budgets.

  20. Psyche

    Another problem may be applying to every open role at the company. You might not be seriously considered if it looks like you are not applying to roles that you are actually interested in but rather looking for any job you can get. It might be better to restrict your application to certain roles when they open so that you look more targeted. If you really want the editor role and not the customer service one, maybe only apply when there are openings related to editing. Or if you are genuinely interested in both, write cover letters explaining exactly what appeals to you about each role to make it clear that it is more than just wanting any job this company will give you.

  21. Linzava

    Hi OP, internet hug.
    I know how awful you feel, I’ve been there a couple of times, but the hard work does pay off, even if it takes longer than we’d like.

  22. NotReallyKarenWalker

    Oh OP, I understand this feeling – I was out of work for nearly a year and every rejection was like another knife wound after awhile. I still harbor intense feelings of resentment for one particular employer who got my hopes incredibly high only to do away with the position at the last possible instant. It gets better. I promise. It’s hard and it requires lots of deep breaths and self care but you can get through this.

    That said, have you looked into education, given your background? I know there’s typically openings for people with library science masters and life experience counts for a LOT in some roles. I’m including a link here that will let you browse some job descriptions and see if any of them work for you (Please remove if this is against the rules, I don’t see anything on linking) https://careers.nais.org/jobs

    NAIS is the main governing branch of independent schools across the country, so you can drill down and look at locations, type, etc. Education or edu admin staff might not be your thing, but maybe browsing will open up some new directions for you to explore as you try to find a “home”.

  23. Temperance

    LW, I’m going to try and give you some insight from the millenial recruiter’s perspective. He’s dealing with a lot of prospective candidates, and it’s much easier (and much quicker) to respond to emails than it is to take calls from everyone who wants to talk about why they were rejected for a job. No one ever just wants to ask a neutral question, they want to argue with you and/or sell their case to why you need to help them or hire them.

    If someone called me multiple times, in quick succession, I would be a.) highly annoyed with that person, b.) less likely to think of them favorably, and c.) worried that, if they were hostile, they’d whine to my boss and try and get me in trouble (all of these are things I deal with). I’m sorry that you’re so stressed and desperate, but this recruiter isn’t your enemy, nor is it unreasonable for him to not be able to take your call.

    1. beanie beans

      Also, email is sooooooo helpful to have a written log of communication with candidates! I know if I talk to someone on the phone I can’t remember if it was last week or last month or what we said.

      1. EH

        This! Recruiters have to do a TON of communicating, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to limit phone calls to things that have to be on the phone (phone interviews, etc) and keep straight information-relay like status updates to email. That’s how I approach my job, and I’m a grumpy Gen-Xer. Shit, I even prefer to communicate with friends over text.
        I 100% feel for the OP, though. Jobhunting sucks, and being sosososoclose to what seems like the perfect job is excruciating.

    2. Hallowflame

      Email may also be a preference for record-keeping purposes. When juggling multiple job applicants, having a record of your conversations with them in your inbox can be useful. When I was job-searching, I found this very helpful when I was communicating with multiple companies and details started getting jumbled in my memory.

      1. all the candycorn

        Also, when you are dealing with people who like to complain:

        LW: I should complain to the recruiter’s boss that he didn’t answer the phone and is discriminating against my age!

        Recruiter to boss: Here are copies of all of the emails that I have sent LW, as proof that I answered her message and didn’t make discriminatory comments.

        1. Hallowflame

          Absolutely! Even in my day-to-day work, I prefer email communication for the built-in paper trail it provides. I have a record of the conversation, and I can quickly forward it to my manager if necessary without losing any details or imparting any undue bias.

  24. beanie beans

    I think one possibility for the position that got reposted (regardless of whether the recruiter knew anything about it) is that they didn’t find what they were looking for in the pool of first candidates, so they reposted it. They might be subtley saying, sorry, you’re just not the right fit for this position, so re-applying and emphasizing that you’re still interested in the position could be a dead end.

    I know that sucks, I’ve definitely been there- interviewed for a job only to see it get reposted later – but unfortunately it’s part of the exhausting job search process. Sometimes a job just doesn’t work out, and pressing the company that you’re still interested will only make them less likely to hire you in the future.

    My heart goes out to you and your job search – I’m hoping the next interview will be the one that makes you look back on this one and feel like you ended up in a better place.

    1. Plain Jane

      Yes, that’s a great point. If the editorial job was reposted on purpose, there’s a really, really good chance it’s because they want to look at a fresh candidate pool.

      If you’re ever in a similar situation, I would send the recruiter an email like,
      “Dear Recruiter,

      I saw the Editor position reposted on Website and I am still very interested. Should I reapply or are you looking for a new candidate pool?”

    2. Ender Wiggin

      Maybe I’m wrong buy I got the impression that the person they ended up selecting was actually doing the job in that company already. So posting it was just a “tick the box” exercise and they never intended to hire anyone else.

  25. Goya de la Mancha

    I hate talking on the phone for lots of reasons, but the main reason I prefer email…because I can do it from just about anywhere via my smart phone. Where I may not be able to access my desk voicemails, or maybe I’m sitting in a loud crowded location that’s not suitable for phone conversations – I can still shoot off that email to confirm that I got the widget you sent and will pass it along to the next department with my approval.

    1. H.C.

      Ditto, also email lets me research & forward relevant information from other sources too (much better than having to recite URLs or email addresses!)

    2. ThankYouRoman

      I can handle most issues within a minute or two by email. Whereas a call requires pleasantries and people who then decide to talk for another ten minutes or so.

      I’ve had a couple people email things while on the phone and want me to confirm receipt before hanging up. Then I’ve got 30 secs of them hemming and hawing and muttering about it being there yet…email is pretty fast but it’s not a matter of click-boom.

  26. Kirsten

    Recruiter/former HR Manager here. I really feel for the letter writer – financial anxiety and stress is just filling this letter, and I have been there and it’s something I definitely emphasize with. As Allison and other commenters have said, I strongly encourage you to expand your scope of your hunt. The company definitely notices you applying over and over again, and that coupled with your past performance is probably not doing you any favors. My general rule of thumb for candidates is not to consider them for future roles if I have met them prior unless a new role opens up that more closely matches their qualifications OR they have added something significant to their credentials since the last time we reviewed – more education, increased responsibility or career change/new role, a new certification, etc. Simply applying and applying and then reaching out to the same recruiter is not going to get you anywhere, and you need to take a big step back and reevaluate your approach. This company is not a fix all for your problems. I know it’s not encouraging when you are struggling to here that, but I really think if you want to break out of the cycle you are in you should explore roles outside your scope, and reach out for informational interviews to influencers or hiring managers. Have your resume reviewed by a professional, maybe audit some free courses at your alma mater if you attended, and most importantly, realize this is a rough patch for you, it will end and you will eventually find something that is what you are looking for. Best of luck!

    1. Butter Makes Things Better

      “This company is not a fix all …”

      So much this. OP sounds like they’ve set up a false dichotomy between the crappy retail job and the safe harbor of the company that hasn’t hired them back. It’s normal and so understandable that financial anxiety is making it seem like OP doesn’t have other options besides these two, and it’s hard to get creative when under that level of stress. But in addition to getting your resume reviewed by a professional in order to get it in the best shape possible, you might consider consulting a career counselor. Not necessarily to change careers, but to hear what other positions in your field (or field-adjacent) for which you’d be a good fit. That way, you can farm out the creativity to an expert, vs. forcing yourself to do it when you’re struggling.

  27. MuseumChick

    OP, I am so sorry you are having a difficult time right now. The frustrating reality is you may have to take a job or two you are very much not thrilled about just to get by for now.

    I have a friend who worked at a closet design company to make ends meat for awhile. The schedule was very flexible, she usually had one or two appointments a day and if she made a sale she made 10% commission on it.

    Consider tutoring. Parents pay good money to get their kids tutor. With a degree in library science tutoring for English classes immediately comes to mind.

    Neither of these are things you likely want to do. But they will bring money in while you hunt for something better. I hope things turn around soon.

    1. Ender Wiggin

      Oo yeah tutoring is great money! I paid my way for 6 months one time just by tutoring. English has pretty high prep time though coz there’s so many books and poems and stuff so make sure you insist on chatting to the child over the phone before the first meeting to find out which book they are doing or what aspect they need to focus on. Tutoring is all about preparation!

  28. ThankYouRoman

    What a terrible situation to be in. I can feel the pain pouring off your letter and it breaks my heart.

    Alison’s advice is solid. You’re entering the stage where you’re now displacing anger on the company and recruiter.

    You’re experience and skills are powerful assets but you’re competing with many others. If the only difference is boiling down to others squeaking by it may be a personal issue. You have the strike against you that you had been let go from the temp position and that you’re pushing the recruiter too hard. You can’t allow them to sense your desperation.

    I’m scarred by the few times we have hired people who are in a desperate spot. I’ve seen each one eventually fired because they over estimated their understanding of the job requirements and what the position requires.

    Please try not to be pushy or demanding of the time of anyone in the hiring processing. It’ll often get you knocked down on the list. It’s those tricky people pleasing tricks that win you spots sometimes when it’s neck and neck. Don’t assume someone can’t do their jobs or that you know their job better than they do.

    Be kind to yourself and I’m praying you expand your search. Don’t give up on this place but please give them space.

  29. Winifred

    I was a public relations professional who got laid off and took an hourly retail job at a high-end national coffee chain, which I actually liked a lot (receiving unemployment benefits helped pay the bills). Yes, I was a barista.

    When unemployment benefits stopped, I moved into management. I won’t say it was a mistake, but retail management can be very, very difficult and wearing on the body and spirit. My staff were mostly teenagers/college kids (were hard to manage to this company’s “high expectations” of product knowledge and keeping the store clean). I was always the on-call person if someone was sick or otherwise didn’t turn up. My #1 job was to constantly hire and train new staff as the turnover was unbelievably high (high expectations, low pay for staff). Plus, I had no experience managing *people* and got no training. I was essentially the highest low-paid warm body in the store who had to be on call all the time and keep labor costs as low as possible. The stress was unbelievable, though I did love the very high quality product and loved teaching coffee and tea classes and talking to customers.

    I did meet my now-husband there, as his son was dating one of my staff members and they fixed us up on a date. So that’s a plus!

    I lasted 9 years and was one of the longest-serving-ever retail managers in that company. You might try to have a frank discussion with retail managers at perhaps a different outlet than yours before deciding to go down that road. See what manager turnover is like in the company, if possible. In 9 years I saw dozens of store managers, assistant store managers, and district managers pass through, a bad scene.

    1. WellRed

      Excellent point! I liked my retail job at a bookstore where I was treated well, etc. I probably would hate retail at a place like Wal-Mart where I don’t even shop.

    2. Ender Wiggin

      Not all retail is like that. Food service is notoriously bad. The three best retail jobs I’ve had were bookies (legal here and relatively well paid), florist, and builders providers/DIY. all the worst were probably food / drink related. Phone center can also be a great part time job for a jobseeker. Factory work can be good, waitressing/bartending depending on tips. One of the easiest jobs I ever had was at a hotel bar/cafe. Temping admin work is also really low stress for relatively high pay.

      (I worked part time / summers from 14 to 28 with only one year full time between my degree and PhD so I’ve had many many many part time jobs).

      1. Winifred

        I see lots of turnover of staff and managers at my local Whole Foods, while my local Trader Joe’s seems to have the same staff and managers for years.

  30. Terri

    I feel for OP but I also think he or she is too assertive and may be doing more harm to himself/herself in the long run. That kind of pushiness comes across as desperation and entitlement. You may very well be well-qualified or the perfect person for a job, but contacting the recruiter repeatedly (and even believing the recruiter LIED to you) is just a recipe for a mess.

    1. Ender Wiggin

      Just FYI being assertive means being at the right level, being overly pushy is called being aggressive.

  31. MCL

    OP, I suggest broadening your search – unless there’s a reason you need to stay in the geographical area you are in, it’s usually easier (though still somewhat difficult) to find library-related jobs if you’re able to move. I realize that it may not be ideal, and that the expense of moving may feel daunting, but it may be worth it to have a permanent job with benefits for the long term as given your age and level of savings you disclosed in your letter, you likely have several more years of work life ahead of you. I agree with Allison that your Master’s degree does qualify you for lots of different kinds of work, and your own work experience should help shape your job search as well. You may not be in a traditional librarian role, for example I have an MLS but am working in a related field and am not a librarian. I have several classmates from my program who are working in education, IT, administration, fundraising, etc. Please strongly consider moving unless there’s a very good reason for you to stay (which, maybe there is?). If you have to stay in your current area, please consider applying at other places that are not this company.

    I’m not sure volunteering is a practical suggestion (as others here have made) as it sounds like you are currently barely making ends meet and do not have spare time to do unpaid work.

    1. nonymous

      I’m hesitant to discourage volunteering, because I know it can be super rewarding on an emotional level. LW sounds like she needs a safe space where her skills can shine, and that she can be recognized and appreciated for her efforts. And the confidence from being in a healthy emotional head space will be apparent in her applications.

      Having said that, volunteers are flaky. It is possible to get what I call “hobby pay” in exchange for being a volunteer who is reliable as well as capable. For example, dog care is something that people will gladly volunteer to do (e.g. at the shelter) but going over on a scheduled basis long-term and possibly at odd hours is a dog sitter. In my area that pays $15-25/hr – certainly not amazing rates, but even a small clientele could easily $100 extra per week for what is essentially a fun experience. I’ve also volunteered and worked in tax prep and childcare where the only different in duties between volunteers and paid staff is that staff is expected to show up for scheduled hours. My FIL nets about 10K annually by upcycling thrift store finds. If LW is very sociable, it’s even possible to get gigs to hang out with an elderly person (the cases I’ve seen involve wealthy people aging in place, but with a high educational background so they want someone who can engage in discourse and have other people to do cna stuff). And a lot of exercise instructors are just extra outgoing people who find the classes fun but don’t want to pay for memberships. I would never advocate for the gig economy as job-replacement, however it’s definitely possible to make past investments into hobbies pay off in times of need. Hopefully that can relieve some of the temporary financial pressure while giving space to recharge.

      If LW has her working quarters in, I would also strongly encourage looking at taking early retirement via Social Security. My mother, after she was laid off, was pleasantly surprised at how little the discount is for doing so.

      Also highly recommend looking at housing options that are tied to income. In my area there are new apartments going in that have a portion of their units set aside for lower income residents (the property developer gets some tax benefits for doing so). My friend lives in a building where 60% of the units are set aside for low income, and the cutoff for a 1-person household is ~$45K.

      1. MCL

        If it’s emotionally fulfilling to volunteer, yes, absolutely do it. I do get frustrated when someone’s advice to a person barely keeping their head above water financially is to volunteer to get more work experience. All of your energy is going to a draining retail job so you can have a roof, but you should spend more of that precious leftover energy by providing free work? Volunteering is awesome. I am a volunteer. I used to work as a volunteer coordinator. But honestly, volunteering is (with some exceptions) something that can be done when someone is in the financial position of being able to donate their time and energy.

        1. Met

          I think it depends on the person. My volunteering position
          (When I was broke but also working a low paying gig) led to a full- time job. I changed my career based on my volunteering and am much happier. I also made new friends, but it isn’t for everyone and not everyone gets a full time job out of it. ( I wasn’t looking for one while volunteering, it happened as another non -profit saw my work and wanted to hire me). It helped me more mental health wise than anything else and I think that changed my life.

        2. nonymous

          I’d be even more aggressive and say that for people in the LW’s situation, it is necessary to examine how their hobby and volunteer activities can be monetized. “volunteer to get more work experience” is so ridiculously far below that threshold as to be unpractical.

          When things are so tight financially, it’s important to maximize contributions to income (either by increasing hourly rate, increasing no. of hours, or reducing household expenses), but it’s often a challenge to do so in a manner that also emotionally satisfying. When my mom was laid off one of the things she did was volunteer at multiple community dinners (volunteers got a meal and could take home leftovers, just like clients) – it made a huge dent in her food bill and reduced the barrier when figuring out what services were available to her in the community. But it most definitely was not a “work experience”.

          I will say that LW is also likely experiencing age discrimination. Sucks, and my heart goes out to her.

          1. MCL

            For sure, if you can make connections like that (like the dinners making tangible budgetary impact). I am talking more about stuff like “get more work experience by volunteering,” which I found to be frustrating advice when I was broke and still feel that it’s frustrating – and I’m a person who has been happily volunteering since I was a teen. I’m glad that others here have found volunteering to be a pathway to better employment (and that it was truly life-changing. Awesome!). It’s really hard to make that happen, though. Like I said, it’s not that I think volunteering is a waste of time, because it’s not. And I absolutely encourage OP to volunteer if that will bring value to them. But I don’t think that it’s the best solution to “rounding out their resume,” and it’s okay for them not to volunteer.

            1. MCL

              Ah, and I see that you did address that. Sorry. It’s the end of the day and my own reading comprehension is suffering. :)

          2. MCL

            I also think it’s possible that they’re experiencing age discrimination. I also wonder if they’re shooting themselves in the foot a little with the attitude of “those millennials and their silly electronic communication methods,” which comes across as a bit out of touch with normal business practices. Email is not a “millennial” thing. And truly, I worry that their somewhat disparaging attitude is coming out in their interactions with employers.

  32. Micromanagered

    I think this:

    I then spent five minutes sobbing uncontrollably in my car, punching into work late because I was trying to get myself under control before coming in, and the rest of the day struggling not to cry or get angry at customers who had nothing to do with it all.

    Is more about this:

    I have exhausted the meager savings I had from my last contract job. I cannot pay my rent, car insurance, phone bill, and my medical debts with a poor-paying retail job. I am sick of unsuccessfully job hunting. I DO NOT want to work in retail anymore

    Than this:

    I’m angry with the recruiter for not returning my call last week.

  33. Dee

    I’m sorry, OP. Job hunting can be so draining and discouraging. For what it’s worth, I agree with everyone else that being so desperate for a particular job (which is totally understandable) can backfire. I hope you find something else that suits you.

  34. yup

    I’m going to give some unusual advice to the OP…. Go do something completely unrelated to job searching this weekend.

    Go for a walk in the park, write in a journal, lookup free events in your city, take a free class, research a low or no cost counseling clinic, catch up with a friend that you haven’t spoken to in a long time, take a bubble bath… Take half a day this weekend and do something that you enjoy or something different or new. If you meet some new people, tell them you are looking for a new job (don’t go into the gory details), but just ask about their industry and if they are hiring or have advice.

    Job searching is exhausting and we often forget to take care of ourselves in these cases which can add to the stress and make our emotions spiral. I would also argue that some of the best networking I have ever done came from non-networking situations. Meeting new people and getting out can be considered a part of the job searching process even if it’s in a casual atmosphere.

    Hang in there, OP!

    1. Kathenus

      This is fantastic advice. And even if it’s just for a few hours the mental break could work wonders.

  35. Theory of Eeveelution

    This is a really tough situation, but honestly I’m seeing nothing but red flags about OP, who comes across here as entitled, immature, and completely lacking in any kind of self-awareness. Who tries to bully their way into a job at a company they were already fired from? Who complains about age discrimination, right after assuming something about someone else based on their age (and while reducing said person to a, frankly, insulting term based on their age)? Who acts in a way that is inappropriate and aggressive, and then says that the victim of this behavior needs to “clean up his act?” Based on OP’s behavior here, I wouldn’t hire them either.

    I can (partially) sympathize: I too tried to break into the library sciences world, but after a couple (unpaid) internships it was clear that there just weren’t that many jobs to begin with, and as time goes on, there seem to be fewer and fewer. It sucks, because it’s a really interesting line of work. But that background opens a LOT of doors if you frame it correctly, and it was pretty easy for me to switch fields.

    Also: At my company, hiring managers can see every position you’ve applied for and been rejected from. We can also see how other managers have rated your application. Seeing that a candidate has 10 1-star applications over the past 6 months? Not great. Also, seeing that a candidate has applied for multiple positions at the same time? Really not great. OP, you need to let this one go. Start fresh somewhere else!

    1. Name Required

      Yeah, that’s the way I felt, too. I wouldn’t hire this person. I wouldn’t hire me from 6 years ago, either. I’ve been in that position, and it took a few years to recover from having this depth of frustration, depression, and anger.

      If you really, really want to work at this company, OP, I think you NEED to work somewhere else first that pays a living wage. It will take some hard work to re-calibrate your emotional reactions away from survival mode, and some of that process might impact you at work; it’s best that it doesn’t bleed over at your dream org.

      1. Laoise

        I also wouldn’t hire me from six years ago! I bombed some big interviews, including one with my Top Choice Gotta Work Here employers. And looking back, I can say they were right not to hire me.

        The me-now might be a great option for them. Me-then was desperate and upset and miserable at my current job and so so bitter.

        Things in my life are rough again right now, and I have an interview for my absolute dream job coming up. And what to do about that negative inner-space is actually the top of my list for what I need to prep for the interview.

    2. Spade

      I’m not sure if this is taking us too far afield, but it seems relevant to the letter writer and I would certainly appreciate your insight–how did you manage to transition? I’m also a recent MLIS grad with internship experience and I’m open to using my skills elsewhere, I just haven’t had a lot of success with the pivot.

      1. Theory of Eeveelution

        I read an essay about the many ways to frame an English degree, and started from there. I emphasized the cataloging/archiving work I was doing in my internships. I also put a huge emphasis on a volunteer position where I’d undertaken a big cataloging project at a tiny non-profit that was pretty well known in the field. Are you a good writer? Writing non-fiction essays and getting them published is HUGE, and that helped me get my current position! Having an MLIS puts you at a tremendous advantage at knowing how to research, and doing a small research project, writing about it, and getting it published looks extremely good on a resume.

        1. Spade

          Thanks for the awesome advice! Love the suggestion of volunteer research being the basis for publications–there are so many organizations in our field with magazines and newsletters.

    3. Smarty Boots

      Who does these things? Maybe someone who’s on the edge of poverty and homelessness and feels desperate?

  36. Mayati

    OP, you might be talking about my workplace — big, hires a lot of contractors for information editing and analysis work, has customer-facing roles requiring similar skillsets. So even if it’s not literally the same company, my advice to you probably applies: try to become one of their contractors. Being a contractor or temp at a company that hires for positions involving a lot of training gives you a leg up, because to the company, you’re a known quantity. You have references within the company itself as a contractor, and you already know whether it’s a good cultural fit. Plus, you’ve got experience working on projects that might tie in to the work you’d be doing in a permanent position.

    That said, I’m trying to move from a contractor role to a permanent position right now, and it’s competitive, even though I know I’m a strong candidate. So a lot of it really is a numbers game. Still, I got zero interviews here before contracting, and LOTS of interviews now that I’ve been contracting here for 10 months. In those ten months, did I really change as a professional all that much? Nah, I’m essentially the same candidate, just with more work *for them,* more connections within the company, and less risk compared to outside hires.

    I recommend apologizing to the recruiter for overstepping, and then calling contracting/temp agencies in the area that may have connections to this company. Go through them. As a contractor, demonstrate professionalism and good boundaries.

    1. Ender Wiggin

      Great advice. Especially since it seems the person who got ops dream job was a contractor first!

    2. Mayati

      Should have mentioned in my first comment: having been a contractor two years ago doesn’t actually benefit you in the same way. While it’s possible they remember that things didn’t work out at first, my guess is they just don’t really remember you much at all — they classify job applicants as internal hires, current contractors, and everyone else. As a former contractor, you’re “everyone else.” And by going through a temp agency, you can explain that things didn’t go so well two years ago for a medical reason that no longer applies; a large company is likely to just leave it at that, as they should.

  37. Theory of Eeveelution

    Also, this may seem unrelated, but it seems like it’s a major source of OP’s stress, and maybe there’s someone else reading this that could use this: Medical debt is negotiable! Especially if you’ve already been sent to collections! You can get an astounding percentage of it forgiven (like up to 90%!) if you just call and explain your situation. Make them an offer. If they say no, call back later and talk to someone else!

    1. ThankYouRoman

      If it’s not in collections because you are killing yourself to try to save your credit score, hospitals can be unforgiving pissants if you’re under insured.

      Yes. I’m still pissed and haven’t recouped my losses from cashing out a retirement fund instead of going into the hell that is dealing with collections and destroyed credit rating.

  38. caryatis

    I think Alison gave some good advice about finding pleasure in non-job-search parts of your life. I’d add that, although you have limited control over whether you get hired, you have absolute control over your personal finances. You said you can’t pay rent, car insurance, or your phone bill with your current job–that means your current lifestyle absolutely needs to change. You might need to find a new apartment, more roommates, or move in with family. Sell the car unless it’s absolutely necessary for transportation. Get a cheap pay-as-you-go phone. Otherwise, your stress over the job search is just going to be augmented by stress over going into debt.

    I know these aren’t easy changes, but if you can find a way to live within your means, you will feel more empowered and your stress level will go down (and you can always treat yourself to additional luxuries if/when you get a higher-paying job).

    1. Theory of Eeveelution

      I disagree about all the personal finances stuff. I’ve been in OP’s position–underemployed and flailing to pay bills–and you truly have NO control over your finances, especially if there are medical issues. There’s no amount of “simplifying” that you can do that will lessen the stress. I’m going to bet OP has already done the “tightening the belt” routine, and telling them to sell their car is really bad advice. Unless they live in New York, they most likely will have no ability to get to interviews or to a hypothetical new job. Their car is absolutely the most important and valuable tool they have right now.

      1. Bee

        Also, moving to a new apartment requires a level of up-front expense that the OP clearly just does not have on hand. It might have paid for itself in six months, but that doesn’t help them pay the rent right NOW.

      2. Girl Alex PR

        Agree. This comment, although I don’t want to make caryatis feel bad, is really unhelpful. A reliable car and phone are the most important things in getting a new job. You have to be able to reliably get to work, interviews, etc., as well as be able to answer emails, calls and voicemails from recruiters and potential employers. Getting rid of the two things that make that possible is not something OP should be exploring right now, IMO.

        Additionally, OP already has a roommate. The house may not have room for them to take on more, or her roommate may be unwilling to. Moving costs money (first and last month rent, security deposit, hiring movers if she has furniture, pet deposits if she has them) and a lot of energy. It’s not as simple as finding a new place.

        I want to stress that many, many people would not be able to move in with family either. OP is 57. It’s reasonable to assume her parents are older or even deceased, and may be unable to take her in. She may not have close relationships with her family. Not everyone has a safety net of people they can call in a crisis, and that doesn’t mean OP is to blame.

        Lastly, calling a car, phone, and housing “luxuries” is pretty out-of-touch. Those are fairly basic needs, especially in cases for people like OP, who needs the two former for her job hunt.

  39. Reed

    Oh, OP, I have so much sympathy for you. I hate to add to the ‘yes-but’, BUT – I am a librarian and I have done a fair bit of recruiting and if your Library Science degree is more than a few years old, it might be out of date. Librarianship has changed drastically in the ten years since I got mine – a lot of the skills I did so well on are now irrelevant – cataloguing and resource management especially have been completely transformed by the Internet and electronic publishing. My degree got my foot on the ladder – I was lucky – but everything I do today I’ve learned on the job or trained myself in in my spare time. If you’ve set your heart on library work, I strongly recommend you look in to updating your skill sets.

  40. Hannah

    Maybe it will help ease your anger at this person to look at it this way: The person who was doing the job already was going to get the job, no matter how fast this recruiter did or did not return your call. It seems like you are tripping up on the “BUT if you had just TALKED to me” part of this, when really they had an internal candidate all along that was strong, and strong internal candidates are really hard to beat. This wasn’t your job, even if your call had been picked up on the first ring.

    That sucks, but maybe it will help you see this less as “the job I almost had if it weren’t for this jerk!” and a job that was not really available after all.

    1. Ender Wiggin

      This. Lots of times when there is a strong internal candidate they only pay the job to tick a box, not with any seriousness.

  41. Annastasia von Beaverhausen

    I’m sorry for your woes, OP. My husband has just got back to work after a year off, and it’s very trying and demoralizing so I feel for you.

    Regarding this company, I really think you need to cast your net wider or it starts to get weird.

    Case in point – years ago I was interviewing and hiring for a person to be my assistant – it was a reasonable job, decent pay, interesting work, so I got a LOT of applications. I wound up interviewing about 8 people, I think (a lot, but the HR person that was assisting me was inexperience and not that good). One woman who applied seemed to have a very similar story to yours – she had worked for my employer in the past, a former colleague contacted HR and suggested to bring her in for an in person interview. The first thing she said when we sat down to chat was that she WAS going to work for the company. This was the ONLY place she was applying. She WOULD be having the job or would continuing applying until she was hired. It was not a good look. From my point of view as the would be future manager, she seemed to disregard what sort of person I might want as my assistant and was instead focused on how SHE was the person who would be having the job because she wanted it. She did have relevant skills and experience, but so did everyone else that I interviewed and ultimately she was not offered the position, and her name was blacklisted for all positions within our division because of how she conducted herself (there were a number of other things that came up during the interview that were really out there an not particularly relevant to your case). I’m confident that she had no idea how she was coming across and was just trying to strongly express her desire to work for the company. I think if she had branched out a bit, and had a variety of places and positions she was applying for, it would have made her less intense and unpleasant about THIS place.

    So, with that in mind, broaden your job search. You obviously have good skills and experience – you just need to offer them up to more people for consideration I think. Good luck.

  42. Stella70

    OP, if you are still reading these comments, I have nothing work-related to add. **Hugs** to you. Life truly, truly sucks sometimes but it will get better. In the meantime, treat yourself as if you were a toddler. I’m not kidding. Eat only what tastes good (mac and cheese for breakfast? hell, yeah), watch nothing but funny movies, get to bed super early and get up later than you should, take walks or sit pouting in a chair. Whatever strikes you in the moment. Sometimes we feel like we should power through things, when just covering the basics and taking the pressure off are more than enough. When you are less frustrated and mentally stronger, you can restart your goals. Just cover your basics for now. All good things to you. – K

  43. CupcakeCounter

    Oh honey…I both feel for you and want to give you a little shake.
    First of all, as Alison said the recruiter really didn’t do anything wrong. Going forward, if you apply at this company again, absolutely use the recruiter’s preferred form of communication. That is really important as you already have a mark against you from your previous interactions with him AND being asked to leave a temp position. Your previous experience there is most likely the #1 factor in you not being hired there. You are really going to have to be outstanding to get people past that – in fact I would probably mention it in a phone interview if they ask about why you are applying there. Something along the lines of “when I temped here for a short time I was really impressed with X and the mission of the company aligns very well with my personal passions. Unfortunately due to an undiagnosed/untreated medical condition I wasn’t a great employee at that time in my life. I have since gotten on a treatment plan and no longer have the sleeping issues I used to. I still hold this company in very high regard and hope to get the opportunity to show you that my time here was an anomaly of what my normal work ethic is like.”
    You mention that you have talked to your previous supervisor and explained the situation but others at the company might not have that information and context – all they see is “contract terminated due to poor performance”. Addressing it head on might help if you can get to the phone interview stage but it is absolutely possible that you are gray-listed (not completely on the do not hire list but only if there are absolutely zero other applicants and we are desperate list).

    The other thing I want to say is listen to your friends and family. I know you don’t want to go into retail management but if your company will pay you to go to training or through their management program, do it. My sister worked for a regional big box store for nearly 10 years. Her supervisors were always trying to put her into the internal management training program – she would spend half of her week doing her regular job and the other half doing the training program. She would have immediately gotten a $0.50 raise for the entire time she was in training (3-6 months depending on if you did just the supervisor piece or went the full management route), been guaranteed a raise and title bump at the completion of the first half then an additional raise after the completion of the second half. It could also be split into 2 sessions. She refused on the grounds that she didn’t want to stay there forever. Who cares! They are offering you free, paid training that absolutely can be used in other places/career tracks and more money. She ended up at that store for over 5 years AFTER they made the first offer of sending her to the training. Even if she only attended the training and never actually changed positions she would have made an extra couple thousand a year. She gave up at least $10k in earnings being stubborn. Don’t be my sister. She is still losing out on money now because when she did finally leave she didn’t get the higher level position because she didn’t have supervisory experience which would have been an extra $5/hr based on the number of years she was at prior job. Also keep in mind that retail management experience can transfer really well into other fields and it pays better than retail sales.

    You need to get your eggs out of that company’s basket and diversify! Even if you cannot stomach the idea of retail management you need to do something else and it sounds like you need to do it fast. That company doesn’t owe you a job especially after you have already blown a chance with them. Honestly I would stop applying there for at least 6 months to a year and focus on getting yourself in a better financial position and building up a stronger resume as is sounds like a lot of temp and retail work right now. The quickest and easiest way to do that is probably through retail management so it might be time to suck it up and make the sacrifice in hopes of a better future.

  44. Archaeopteryx

    Seconding everything Alison said, but just to add: even in this phase where you need a basic/lower-level job to make ends meet until you get back into your field, there are a lot better options out there than retail. The stress, pace, and rude customers encountered in most retail jobs can’t be helping your emotional health. Whether it’s an office job in (for example) the medical or dental field, administration, or any other less hectic position, I’d recommend getting a job you can live with while you apply to higher level things. That way you’re not being drained emotionally in a day to day basis while you search for your next step.

  45. NotoriousMCG

    I’m surprised that I haven’t seen anyone mention that the job may have been reposted by a job aggregator like indeed and not by the company itself. We would run into that a lot at the place where I last screened resumes where I would get apps for closed jobs because some aggregator was still holding onto it.

    I’m sorry you are frustrated, OP!

  46. gk

    I’m so sorry OP. You seem frustrated and sad. It’s tough finding a job and it can really take a toll on your confidence if you’ve been searching for a long time, I know it only too well.

    Your circumstances need to change somehow. Is it perhaps the area where you live that’s limiting your opportunities? How about reaching out to a highly skilled temp agency? I’ve found contract jobs in my area at a temp agency that pay very well.

    You need a fresh start and a new outlook on life. Take care of yourself mentally and physically and hopefully you can get out of this funk.

    If my 60 something dad can reinvent himself over and over again, you can too!

  47. The LW

    LW here. Thanks to Allison and to everyone else. Obviously, I wrote Allison at a time of great stress and anger. I’ve been job hunting off and on since the Great Recession. I’m burned out. I want to stop. Yet I know I can’t stop; I need to make a better living. Since I wrote to AAM, I have talked to my therapist (yes, I am in therapy) and my emotions are now under much better control. Soon I will be working at the other long-term temporary job I mentioned at the beginning of my letter. I am making new efforts to bring more balance into my life, even though retail scheduling and finances make it difficult.

    I can see where several of you said I seem entitled. You’ve made me realize that I do act like “I need this job. I could do this job. Why won’t someone give me this job? Why won’t someone, anyone, HIRE ME?” and it smells of entitlement and desperation. In reality, I struggle with my self-confidence. It seems everyone else is better qualified than me and is chosen over me (not just for jobs but also in relationships, which is another subject). It’s painful and it’s a terrible cycle. I also often think I’m no longer capable of working at much else other than my retail job. How can I strike a balance between all of these conflicting feelings and present myself in the best possible way?

    Yes, labels like “millennial” and “age discrimination” are bad, even though I wouldn’t say those things directly to someone. Trying to push was not good; I know better, yet I still let my anger and frustration get in my way that morning. And yes, I have not complained and will not complain to Glassdoor or the company. I’m also scared that I may have damaged myself even further by writing to AAM!

    I also believe my job history is getting in my way for the types of positions I want to have. I agree it (or my resume, cover letters, or interviewing skills) doesn’t show me in the best possible light. Time to take another look at those particular AAM sections and put them into practice. And a retail management training program suddenly doesn’t sound like hell on Earth after all.

    You have given me much to think about and some more things to work on. Again, thank you all.

    1. MuseumChick

      Hi LW,

      Thank you for responding! I truly hope that life turns around soon for you. I posted this upthread but I wanted to put it here as well in case it gets lost.

      Have you thought about tutoring to bring in some extra money? I know it’s not ideal but you can easily advertise online and around local schools. With a few clients you can start pulling $100 a week or more. You could keep your retail job for steady pay and have this on the side.

    2. Amber Rose

      I don’t think writing your letter was damaging. Listen, it sounded bad because you were in a bad place, but it’s a place many of us have been. We know how hard it is, and honestly nearly this exact letter could have been written by me at a couple points in my life. Its OK, as long as you’re taking the advice and doing what you can with it.

      I’m glad that you have a therapist to help you and you’re in a better emotional place. I’m rooting for you, and I really hope you’ll write back with an update some day telling us about the unbelievably amazing job you’re kicking ass at.

    3. Dankar

      No concrete advice, but just encouragement. My partner, my best friend and her husband were all out of work for 6-18 months, and two were working unfulfilling and difficult service-industry jobs, but moving up the ladder. One had very little work experience, and was applying for jobs that he didn’t have much of a background in. He spent a lot of time feeling very demoralized whenever he wasn’t called back or was passed over.

      Then, all of a sudden, all three were hired into their current, degree-relevant positions within one month! Not all the jobs are perfect, but they’re each stepping stones to something better. It can happen. It WILL happen for you. You just have to keep your ear to the ground and keep looking for ways to build your resume in the meantime. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

    4. Suggestion

      You mention your retail schedule is a problem, so I’m going to plug my former sector. I worked in nonprofit fitness and while they have all of the same unpleasant issues of retail (low pay, poor management, inconsistent staff quality, never closed for holidays, other foolishness and nonsense that will drive you nuts) they tended to be good places to work for adults looking for a consistent part time gig. Because things were so crazy, a reliable adult who wanted to have the same shifts week in and week out was usually accommodated, especially if they wanted an unpopular shift like 8 am – 12 pm weekdays. They’d likely need you more than you need them, which is a good bit of leverage to have over a part-time job. And because they often have “older adult” or “senior” programs, they don’t discriminate in age: someone in their 50s is young compared to the 90-somethings in the walking club or water fitness classes!

      Places like the YMCA, YJCC, community rec centers, senior centers, are the places I’d recommend looking. Definitely watch for red flags like any other job, but you’d be likely to find something there that works for you while you look for another full-time job.

    5. Kathenus

      LW, I am very impressed by your response here. You got a lot of encouragement, but also a lot of tough love in the comments and to read them, take them in, and respond so thoughtfully says a lot about you. This is the ‘you’ that will help you succeed in so many things in life. Your self-reflection and willingness to share it is laudable. We all have strengths and weaknesses, but those who are open-minded enough to take in feedback like this in such an open way are not always common. Positive thoughts to you on finding that better job and a path that makes you happy.

    6. Coconut Oil

      FWIW I did retail management for a while and made it up to store manager for a large retailer and while it stunk in so many ways that only people who have been in retail management can know there were a lot of perks. I really think the skills I learned hardened me up for working in corporate America, and have helped me tremendously and I got to have a management role on my resume. So while it is not ideal it has its moments.

      The other upside for almost next to nothing I have a very nice work wardrobe including coats, a few nice leather bags, shoes galore, and Kate spade dinnerware all from the return section and all at almost 90% off retail.

    7. Cait

      This is a thoughtful reply that I think bodes well for you! I hope you can gain something positive from this experience and find your way out of what sounds like a really hard time soon. Would love to see an update in a few months where you are in a much better place. Sending you the best of luck!

    8. EditorInChief

      Hi LW,
      Thanks for responding, especially in the face criticism, including my own. You say you need to make a better living. What does ‘better living’ mean to you? What would your ideal life look like? It certainly wouldn’t be only centered around this one company you were hoping to work for. You’re much more than one job. Use the excellent resources Alison provides here to redo your resume so it highlights your experience and learn some interviewing techniques.

      I think when you feel like you can’t win at anything you get fixated on That Thing That Will Make Everything Better, and stop seeing the big picture. Even if it doesn’t feel like it you have options you do. Right now you can go the retail management route, gain some supervisory skills and give yourself a break from the incessant job hunting. Be kind to yourself. You’re valuable!

      Also, as a woman who is approaching 50, I’ve started paying alot more attention to looking my best. Whether we like it or not looks can matter. And I’m not talking beauty. I’m talking well groomed, well put together with age appropriate and well fitted clothes. I don’t particularly like tons of makeup but the one thing I always do is put on lipstick. For some reason people think you’re wearing makeup even if it’s just lipstick. I know I’ll probably get skewered for saying anything about looks, but it’s true, especially at our age.

    9. Esquire75

      I’m so glad you wrote back, LW! I have been reading your letter and the many insightful/supportive comments non-stop for the last hour. I’m also in a very dire financial situation and have been struggling to find work, while barely managing my physical and mental health issues.

      Honestly, I don’t have any advice because other commenters have already so eloquently and kindly responded. Your letter and discussions it sparked in the comments made me realize that I’m not alone. And that means so, so much.

    10. BRR

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. This comment section had its ups and downs and for you to show such growth from what everyone had to say is really admirable. Job hunting sucks. Job hunting for a long time sucks. You’re in a competitive industry which is hard. I wish you the best of luck!

    11. TootsNYC

      I can see where several of you said I seem entitled. You’ve made me realize that I do act like “I need this job. I could do this job. Why won’t someone give me this job? Why won’t someone, anyone, HIRE ME?” and it smells of entitlement and desperation.

      It is SO SO HARD to be the job seeker–you have no control over the part that matters.

      And yet you have the drive, the need, to get the job. But you can’t “get” the job; it has to be offered to you.

      I often compare job hunting to dating–both parties have to agree. And when only one party wants it, it doesn’t happen. When you are the one who wants it, it can be hard to walk away. In dating, that’s how stalkers and incels are made.

      It’s so smart of you to begin to recognize the situation you’re in. And I hope you can find a groove, and a way to be comfortable with the lack of control.

      You can control you–your resume, your interview skills, etc. I wish you all the best as you go forward!

    12. pony tailed wonder

      You might want to join an online librarian group and ask where their former colleagues have gone to and flourished. I am in several and it isn’t uncommon to hear about people wanted a second career after they burn out or have a life change. I think the biggest and most active is on facebook – search the terms library think tank to find it.

    13. AnotherLibrarian

      I think you are very brave to post here. Please send us a update in the future. I think a lot of librarians (myself included) really associate being a librarian with who we are a person. One thing my therapist and I have been working on a seeing myself as more than just a librarian. So that rejection from library jobs doesn’t feel so personal. I wish you all the best.

    14. Mayati

      I really admire your ability to understand how you’re coming off and take a different tack. You haven’t damaged yourself further by writing in — even if you had, your comment here undoes that.

      I’ve been in that cycle of self-doubt mixed with fury. For me, it was in the aftermath of an abusive work environment. Sometimes I think I came off as less than professional in my quest for validation that what had happened was unfair, because even though it objectively was, it had done a huge number on my self-esteem and my understanding of my value as a worker. It was a hard pattern to break, but you know what helped? My fairly simple, unglamorous contracting job. Just getting back to basics at a job that was well below my full abilities helped me remember my good qualities in a position that wasn’t particularly stressful.

      Your retail job can be the same for you, if it’s a healthy work environment. Sure, it’s humble, but that doesn’t have to mean it’s humiliating. Take pride in your work for your own sake, so you can look in the mirror and say “I’m a good worker, and I can take what I’m good at here into my future positions.” That way, you’ll be moving your career in an upward trajectory instead of stalling out trying to be where you believe you should be (and thinking anything like retail is a failure to live up to some arbitrary standard of success). You don’t have to prove that you’re “good enough” for anyone else. You need to prove it to yourself, and “good enough” doesn’t have to mean “the best candidate for this set of jobs at this specific company.” It means being happy with who you are by your own standards. Unfortunately, it also means bringing in enough money to support yourself and your dependents, but that’s not about your value as a human being, it’s just cold logistics. Your value as a human doesn’t come from your value as a worker, but taking pride in your work can make you feel good about yourself for your own sake.

    15. Dee

      Good luck. And I think it’s especially commendable that you’re going to therapy. I know that it can be hard to keep up with that when you’re depressed and frustrated and worried about other stuff and short on money.

  48. Lucille2

    No advice from me, I just want to offer my sympathies to the OP. I have had a few family members suddenly faced with late career job searching, and it is ROUGH. I work for a company who has hired several people in your age group, so I know there are companies out there who are not actively discriminating against age. And in this day and age, people are more likely to stick with a company for only a few years before moving on, so I think the expectation for bosses to keep people for the long haul is fading.

    Take Alison’s suggestions to heart. I know from experience how impossible it seems to release that frustration in healthy ways when the bills keep piling up. But it is so important to take care of your mental health. Good luck!

  49. You Can Call Me Al

    The thing is that this job, while it would help a lot of things, is not going to be a magic bullet. Ultimately, they are not required to hire you and frankly they do not owe you anything in terms of a job. And being known as the one that fell asleep on the job/wasn’t performing to the best of their ability plus irritating HR is probably not going to get you the job. It is time to look at either a different company or a different field. Could you find some work doing administrative support in a different field? Maybe try a local or state job center as well?

    In addition, it is not just a millennial thing. It could be that sending an email takes one or two minutes whereas you have no idea how long a phone conversation will last. There is no need to continue stereotyping millennials, especially since most people don’t even realize that the generation goes from ages 22 to 37 I believe.

  50. HarvestKaleSlaw

    OP, I know so well where you are. That feeling praying for your day of drudgery to end so you can go to bed and crash and not think – and then praying for the night to be over so you can stop lying awake in the dark in terror about your unpaid bills. That feeling that the last thing you have to hope for is – just something to hope for. Just some open window or ray of light or way forward that doesn’t mean the rest of your life lived in shit, facing down your old age with nothing to look forward to, knowing you will be poor every day of your future: No sleeping on a nice mattress under nice sheets ever again. No dinner at a good restaurant ever again. No being respected at your job ever again. Just things getting worse and your body breaking down until you die still in debt.

    This job was your something to hope for. Your way out. Of course you cried. It wasn’t just a job; it’s what you’ve been hanging onto.

    I don’t know if this helps, but it is the truth: You are not the only one. There are thousands, millions, tens of millions of people feeling the same thing. We don’t talk about it, because we are ashamed. We think we are worth what we can earn, so admitting to being down and out is admitting to being worthless. We live in a culture where being a failure is the worst, most shameful thing you can be – worse than being a liar, or a cheat, or a thief. Worse than hurting others. Cruel men and liars and cons strut with their heads high, because they are rich. Good people die of shame in the shadows because they are poor.

    What Allison said about connecting to the rest of your life outside work is very wise. Of course, when you are poor, the rest of your life is grim. I know that. But connect anyway – to the things that make you realize what you are worth as a human being.

    *Talk to friends and family – cry on their should and then do the same back – spend time listening to them and supporting them. Giving back heals you. It makes you understand your true worth.

    *Volunteer. I know more work is not what you are after, but it will help. Especially look for ways to help the very young and the very old.

    *If you are religious, go worship. Just find that wellspring, if it is open to you.

    *Look for things that are beautiful. Many are free. A book from the library that moves you. A museum. A walk in the park.

    *Make something. Draw or write something or craft or sew or build something.

    You are a human being and worth a lot. It will be okay.

    1. TootsNYC

      “Giving back heals you. It makes you understand your true worth.”

      So true.

      When I was in treatment for depression, my therapist had me make a “value chart”–eight squares on a piece of paper, each representing a category. One of the most powerful for me was the one labeled “something I said or did that helped someone.” Filling it in every day made me realize that I am an affirmer–one of my favorite things to do is to say things to other people that lift them up: you did a good job on this; that shirt really brings out your eyes; I always feel so happy when I see you coming toward me in the hallway.
      And it made me realize part of why I do–it makes me feel good about myself!

      (also because my mom used to do it to me, and I knew how good it makes people feel. But my therapist would say, “See? You are someone who wants others to feel good–that is proof of your worth.”)

  51. former librarian

    Please see whether you can get on disability (it takes a long time and people who are long-term unemployed are sometimes able to get in with sufficient help if you know how to navigate the process). There are also special hiring authorities for people with disabilities within the federal government if you can provide proof of disability. I am concerned that with your age, ageism is a huge factor and that the deck is stacked against you in a big way unless you have deep subject area experience (either in legal research or cataloging, which seem a bit more forgiving).

    In addition, contracting jobs for records management are significantly easier to get than anything with “library” in the title (I assume from post that you are in DC area). They often pay better, too. If you can get your foot in the door with a RM position, it is much easier to advance in RM than in libraries, which are super cliquey, ableist, racist, and ageist. These positions often have less of an issue with age discrimination. They are often outsourced and the contractor will generally refer you to the client if you have an MLS. It’s tedious work but it is possible to move up and laterally once you have subject area experience in RM.

    If your body can handle it, and you are in the DC area, there are big contractors that usually have high turnover at Library of Congress shelving positions. However, perhaps with some perspective retail management might not be the worst move. I have seen people successfully transition from retail management into managerial positions in less competitive public library systems. I have personally seen unions accept managerial positions outside of a library while contesting otherwise qualified internal candidates who would be moving into their first managerial position. In addition to the possible career benefits, it’s possible that the increased pay would give you some breathing room in re: your other stressors.

    Finally, if you live in a city, I strongly recommend searching for a community acupuncture clinic. They have sliding scale treatments starting at $20 and hours friendly to folks doing shift work. Regular acupuncture has helped me regulate stress and depression and allowed me to work physically demanding jobs for longer than I thought possible. They may also let you pay even less if you communicate your circumstances.

  52. n

    LW, so sorry you’re going through such a stressful time and having difficulty finding work. Have you tried getting assistance at a local job center or workforce center (assuming you’re in the US)? They can help you with job searches, resume writing, cover letters, etc. They may also be able to help you find a job through a federally-funded on-the-job training program or help you receive additional training/education through a WIOA grant. It’s kind of a long, bureaucratic process, but it might be worthwhile to check out if other strategies aren’t working.

  53. A

    Hi, something that a lot of people don’t think about with a library science degree is a law library. If you work in a city with a large courthouse, it will often have a law library run by either the state or county. The court too often looks for librarians for their rules department because librarians know how to do research and how to write. State and federal government jobs often ask for degrees that people don’t think about. Also, our university hires research librarians all the time.

    1. former librarian

      I don’t think this is great advice unfortunately. There are many law librarians who have been laid off who will take those kinds of opportunities. Many law librarian positions now require a JD. And as for writing jobs (not sure librarians do have a reputation as great writers), there are so very many underemployed lawyers.

      Unless you live somewhere very rural, it’s very likely that those research librarians at your university have probably been through a rigorous national search process.

      Federal jobs are out of the question unless you are a veteran, a contractor where someone at the agency where you have been working has been able to pull strings in the job posting process to get you around the veterans, or you are entering through a special hiring authority (like the disability hiring ones I mentioned earlier, or recent graduate programs, returned Peace Corps volunteer, etc.).

      Speaking of the Peace Corps, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this mentioned on AAM, but there is no age limit to join! If OP’s medical issues are under control and personal circumstances allow, I think it’s very possible to get in (I assume they look differently at the older folks vs the ones fresh out of college – I’m sure there are RPCVs in the commenter pool here) and would allow them to jump the queue for federal hiring on return from assignment (there is job placement assistance on return.

      In addition, the Peace Corps has term limits on positions within the Peace Corps. Many of those positions are restricted to RPCV. I believe I have seen term librarian positions there that were term limited, meaning they do turn over and would provide the elusive first FT library job).

      Moving abroad would also resolve the OP’s car expenses…

  54. Meredith Brooks

    I’m going to go out on a limb here… I think there’s a certain lack of self-awareness caused by stress that might be contributing to OP’s job search, which is why THIS job at THIS company seems like a perfect fit. I say this, because I’ve been in the same situation. Under difficult circumstances I became very narrow-minded about what I would or could accept. Stress has a way of muddling the mind and it makes it difficult for us us to be mindful and thoughtful of situations. This would explain why you’re so focused on this one particular job and also why you’re so adamant about not working in retail. I’d recommend taking a step back. Cut yourself some slack. Cut others some slack too. Take a week off of the job search to really consider what you want to do and what you’re willing to do. Update your resume and cover letter. Get your ducks in a row. Do yoga. Catch up on laundry. Write a poem. Do something that you can pat yourself on the back for. Then when your stamina has returned, take a deep breath and dive in.

  55. another librarian

    just seconding the comment from former librarian that I’ve also known of people going from retail management to public librarian positions — I’ve seen several public library job postings in my suburban/semi-rural region that specifically call out retail management experience as desirable!

  56. LadyCop

    First of all, OP, digital hug…because I -totally- get where you’re coming from, and I imagine at 56 it hurts even more to feel like you don’t have control of things.

    I’ve been there. I’ve been there more times than I can count, where every rejection stings, and desperation sinks in…where because your job is out of whack, so are so many other dominoes. But there seriously -is- a light at the end of the tunnel, and I want you to get through it, even if there is no magical band-aid to get you there.

    Alison made a great suggestion about focusing on other parts of your life. Again, I know that’s not easy lining up the dominoes, but there is something to be said for it to help balance your feelings. Pithy as it may sound, this too shall pass, and I hope you can write back 3, 6, 12 months from now bragging on the wonderful opportunity that fell into your lap that beat the pants off this company!

    For what it’s worth, I’m rooting for you.

  57. Yet Even Another Alison

    I am so sorry that you are going through this – and I am sorry to say that I believe that you are spot on – this is age discrimination. I say this because your situation fits patterns that my over 50 friends have gone through with age discrimination. My advice to you is to look for companies that embrace hiring people over 50. I know you say you want to work for this particular company – but that may not be in the cards for you. I am over 50 – and in a field in great demand – but I have experienced it. It hurts being a woman in tech too ( I don’t know if you are female) – especially when you wear make-up and are considered attractive. If there are external recruiters in your field – I would network with them as well. Something you may want to consider – when dealing with external recruiters – ask them if they have ever placed anyone over 50 in the companies they recruit for. You don’t want to waste your time or their time if being over 50 will knock you out of contention. But, I am direct – I know age discrimination goes on, and I have never had an outside recruiter try to tell me it does not and I don’t want to waste my time interviewing with a company that is going to write me off for something as silly as age. Please surround yourself with positive people – people who believe in you and who support you. Do not let this situation make you question your abilities or what you deserve. Big virtual hug to you!!!! Hope if does not offend – I am praying for you.

    1. Doesn't sound like age discrimination to me

      When I read your answer, YEAA, I thought I had to add my voice here.

      I’m 54, also a woman in tech, just went through a 8-month job search, and age discrimination had NOTHING to do with how long it took me to get a new job (I just accepted an offer with a mid-six-figure salary, and start in 2 weeks, working mostly with guys in their 20s and 30s!).

      With everything the OP said, I’d be very surprised that her struggle has to do with age discrimination either, because there are so many other factors at play (she was let go from the company in the past due to a health issue that affected her productivity, her work history and history of interactions with the recruiter are likely not helping, etc.).

      Here’s why I’m skeptic when people claim age discrimination:

      – I never had difficulty getting offers for 6-figure jobs in my original line of work in tech – not in my 30s, 40s, or 50s.
      – Twice in my career I wanted to change my role (think front-end developer to back-end developer to data engineer), and THESE where the times when my job search took much longer. Once in my 40s, once in my 50s, each time it took me 8 months to a year to make the transition.
      – Because my line of work makes it easy to have an online portfolio, my approach was to demonstrate to companies I was skilled at the work I was seeking, even if I didn’t have a lot of experience in it. Each time it took me a while to build a new portfolio with work samples, but once I had a link to add to my resume, I could SHOW rather than TELL companies I could do the job, and started getting interviews one after another. I was lucky that the first company to complete the interview process was my first choice (5 mins from home, nice environment, etc.), so I stopped interviewing once I got their offer.
      – I am still receiving tons of contacts from recruiters for very interesting roles even after turning off the flag “I’m looking” in LinkedIn. And I have a recent photo of me there, so it’s not like these recruiters aren’t seeing how old I am.

      Look, I get scary to see younger generations competing and getting jobs I applied for. However, I’m willing to bet that what it might look like age discrimination for me and the “over 50 friends” you mention is, in most cases, a matter of “this person studied XYZ 30 years ago, and doesn’t have recent experience with the latest developments in this area–can I trust he/she has the right skills for today’s environment?”, or “this person has worked for the same company for 25 years, can I trust he/she will be able to adapt to how we do things here?”, or, “we’re using technology that was invented in the last 5 years, I better get someone just out of college that has used it”.

      My advice for anyone worried about age discrimination is to focus on developing and showcasing relevant skills and forgetting about age. Companies want people who can do the job well in today’s environment. In my line of work, for example, I guarantee a person in their 20s with a resume showing she’s great with FORTRAN and Windows XP will definitely lose the job to someone in her 60s who knows Scala and AWS.

      1. n

        But… you work in tech. You may not be experiencing age discrimination just because your skills are so highly in demand. In other fields where there’s less demand, or just a very high supply of skilled workers, age discrimination may be more widely practiced.

  58. Tabby Baltimore

    OP, as a 50-something myself, you have my deepest sympathy.
    I agree with former librarian above regarding contractor jobs (if you are in the DC area). I also have a library degree, but work for the feds in a different capacity.
    As an experiment, and if you haven’t already done this, please consider (1) thinking long and deeply about *all* the skills you have, then listing them (list ALL of them, even things you’re skilled at doing that you don’t like to do); (2) then, for each skill on the list, think of other words/phrases to describe that skill (I’m sure you’ve seen enough job ads to do this easily); (3) with your skills list, go to the USAJOBS dot gov site or to your local state and/or county employment site, and search for jobs using the words and phrases from your skills list, rather than by title, facility or topic (library, librarian, editor, information, etc.).
    My hope is that this exercise (searching by skills alone, using multiple keyword descriptors) will result in your finding out that there are many, many types of jobs you would be a good fit for, including some that you would never have thought about. Also, forcing yourself to think more generously about your many capabilities this way might possibly improve your self-esteem a little.
    Please write back and let us know how you are doing. We do care, and we are rooting for you.

  59. Groovygirlaz

    Hello,
    I have the utmost respect for you share your situation, and being transparent in a public forum.

    I stopped reading the feedback because, it is not helpful; albeit, even said, with the best intentions, it just digs deeper, leaving you feeling misunderstood during a time when you desperatly need hope, support, and understanding. I want to first acknowledge the courage it took for you to share a deeply personal situation, with a bunch of strangers, much less in a public forum. I believe everyone has good intentions, but I feel you are hanging on by a thred. So i want to steer this conversation to be solution focused and sincere.

    I would love to review your resume. I have written many resumes and sometimes, it takes a few small edits to get recruiters to start blowing up your phone. I would be happy to give your resume a makeover and/or provide suggestions. I have been in your situation and it is hard. I want to help you for no other reason than human compassion.

    Looking for employment is one of the most stressful situations a person encounters. It is even worse as you age bc lets face it, inside we all feel younger than what we are. I believe attitude makes a huge difference. I also believe you should do what you love. If retail isn’t a good fit, find another solution. Being an librarian, you understand being resourceful. Have you tried, DES? They can provide you a lead and sometimes are able to help you obtain an interview. Organizations such as Fresh Start. I have found it helpful to use job posting alerts on Indeed.com for specific companies and jobs I am interested in.

    On a side note some of the job boards do repost resumes even when the position is no longer available. I know this first hand from a candidate calling and navigating me to the job posting that was filled six months prior! Appauling but factual. Also, some job boards will leave old postings up for a considerable length of time, especially if they charge the employer by ” pay per click”.

    In my humble opinion, it is not wise to put all your eggs in one basket. Go into these interviews with conviction. You have what it takes; the experience, the education, and amazing skills. Present this with confidence and a smile.

    Always, send a thank you note or card. It is a classy thing to do and it gives you an edge over your competition.

    Confucius says, do not speak negatively about past employers. Rather, you gained valuable experience however, your narrative has changed and you want to establish a long term career with the “right” company. Remember, you are interviewing them, every bit as much as they are interviewing you. Ask questions and be sure it is the right move. I recently listened to the free audio ebook, “Acing the Interview” through an App called, Overdrive. It is a free resource through the library. It is awesome.

    Remember to pretty yourself up every day. It is important to like what you see when you pass a mirror. Whatever you do, never, ever, ever give up! Whenever you feel down repeat this phrase to yourself with a smile, “I’ve got what it takes”!

    1. I can't even

      +1! I hope OP sees this.

      Also, tacking on – OP, I’m not sure what location you’re in, but I also have a Master’s in Library/Information Science. A few industries that I’d recommend you look into: archival, data management, and the biopharmaceutical industry in particular. I work in biotech/biopharma and the need for folks who can organize information is huge, especially since this is such a tightly regulated industry. Depending on your location (and relocation ability), there are tons of contracting positions that you can start to get your foot in the door, and once you do that there’s more work than even people to perform it. I recommend looking into becoming a clinical research associate (CRA – often they are remote! And it’s a great stepping stone for a career, and have a variety of locations).

      Happy to answer any questions and wishing you luck.

    2. Lady Ariel Ponyweather

      I absolutely love this comment! I also hope OP sees this, it’s so valuable. Thank you for your support and positivity: this comment wasn’t even for me, but I definitely felt uplifted and energised by it.

  60. Cait.

    OP, the previous manger telling you to apply online is a brush off. If s/he really wanted you back, they would advocate for you and put in,a personal,recommendation. You may want to explore if you were fired for more than just your sleep apnea. Be honest with yourself and your performance.

    1. AnotherLibrarian

      What others are reading as entitlement, I really think is desperation and frustration. Oh, OP, I am so sorry you are going through this. I have been job hunting myself for a year and I am employed. It is so hard and disheartening. You are clearly at the end of your rope and I wish there was something I could do to make this easier.

      What I can say is that you need to let go of this. I know you are in a tough spot and I am so sorry for that. I think Alison is right when she suggests that your previous history with this company is probably hindering you here. Calling twice in one day is also not great and will be a red-flag for them in the future. I’ve hired librarians and I would be deeply concerned about a candidate who followed up repeatedly.

      I would drastically expand your application options. Apply to more things. Apply to things outside the area. Try other companies. Reach out to the local library association and see if they have networking events or resume review.

      And I would also encourage you to look for something you can devote yourself to that has nothing to with job hunting. Volunteer (I work with the animal shelter) or join a book club or just do something. Because right now it sounds like your mental health is taking a hard hit and I’m worried for you.

  61. KT

    I think it’s quite reasonable for someone who is “on the phone all day” to want to communicate via email on less urgent (to them) things – because you can’t be on two phones at once!

    If I call someone to ask them a question but they don’t answer, I’ll typically email the question to them, rather than leave a message requesting a call back. Because by the time they call back, chances are I’d be on the phone with someone else, at the time!

    I think unscheduled phone communication is only best where the matter is urgent, or super quick (e.g. just a five minute chat to clarify some point). Anything that will take longer than that, schedule the phone call in, to be respectful of others’ time (e.g. send a note saying “is there a good time for you tomorrow to discuss this?”)

    And for anything quite detailed – email! Then there is a paper trail and less chance of misunderstandings.

  62. Lilo

    One thing I will note: if the job was at a totally different location, a lot of people wouldn’t consider that reposting. So I really don’t see the recruiter doing anything wrong here. If you framed at as a “repost”, it makes sense he was confused. That posting and candidate search may have been the job of a recruiter at a different office.

    So even the one thing you might mildly criticize the guy for really wasn’t that bad.

    As for returning calls, remember you are one of many candidates for many roles, and that this guy (and other people like him), do not work for you. Our main contact point gets tons of anxious phone calls, even when “we will not finish hiring before X date, we will follow up with you after then” is stated (and they then call well before X). She has a job to do other than return these calls, sometimes significantly higher priority work. You just can’t demand immediate attention (and email may enable a faster response).

  63. amanda

    IDK if this matters, but believe me, I know what it’s like to deal with your specific type of disability. I actually don’t have sleep apnea, but chronic insomnia… and it can be debilitating!

    I try to let my direct reports know, casually, fairly early in any job. When we are casually talking about our days/nights, I will slip in (when it’s true) “man, my insomnia was ROUGH this week, I’ve been living on 3 hours of sleep a night for the past week!”

    Then, when eventually I nod off for a minute and then jerk awake, (because unfortunately, it always happens eventually, though not very often) they assume insomnia rather than opiate addiction or something else! I have literally had an employer say that to me: “I’m so glad you let me know that you have insomnia, when you were fighting sleep this afternoon I definitely could have assumed something worse!”

  64. AmethystMoon

    Temp work can lead to permanent work. However, you generally have to make the right connections while you’re there, and impress the right people. I was a shy person who temped for a good decade after college before finally landing a permanent job with benefits. And yes, part of it is employers don’t want to pay people benefits. But part of it too is sometimes you have to do things that go against your nature, like networking.

  65. Let's Bagel

    I think in general it can be good to avoid getting too emotionally invested in any one company, especially over a long period of time. It narrows your pool of job openings that excite you, can cloud your judgment about whether a job really is the best fit for you, and can set you up with an unrealistic set of expectations should you actually get hired there. I also think if you were to get an offer, you might not negotiate the best deal possible for yourself because you would be too desperate to work there.

  66. Tara S.

    “Millennials don’t like to talk on the phone” is a stereotype I run into all the time. For me, a millennial, it couldn’t be farther from the truth – I often prefer to chat with someone instead of email. But also….I know a lot of people who do fit this stereotype! They never check their voicemails and avoid calls as much as possible! So it’s not coming totally out of nowhere.

    Also the things I am hearing about Gen Z make me feel old. Like instructors at the university where I work talking about how they have to tell their students “you HAVE to check your emails” because apparently “kids these days” have so many other avenues of communication they don’t use email almost at all? I feel like a letter about someone pushing back on email use all together is coming.

  67. Lady Ariel Ponyweather

    Just wanted to say I’m sorry you’re going through such a tough time. I don’t have any advice other than what’s been offered. Life can be rough and please remember that your job troubles are not your fault. You haven’t don’t anything wrong to end up in this situation. I’ve lost many professional contacts because of my health issues and my friends had to remind me for a long time that it wasn’t my fault.

    One thing that just came to mind is maybe this is a time to reach out to anyone and everyone. A short email/phone call/message to friends, acquaintances and professional contacts. Maybe a different version depending on how well you know the person: more open with close friends, light and upbeat for acquaintances and professional contacts. Let them know your situation and see who can help you out. Someone could have an idea you hadn’t considered or would be willing to trade services. You never know.

    Sending you many, many good thoughts. Keep good people around you and look after yourself. All the best of luck!

  68. Lee

    I agree that temp work can lead to permanent work. You should really try HARD and find volunteer work doing what you want to do professionally through volunteer match.com and SHOWCASE this on your resume. It will help your chances.. Leave that company alone there are more.

  69. Sympathetic Friend

    I have a friend who has had such similar frustrations. He’s younger than OP and has Asperger’s that makes it really difficult for him to get hired. He has a Masters in Library Science but has not gotten to use it at all in the years since he got it because it’s so difficult for him to be kept on at library jobs. (He’s also had daytime sleepiness issues and volume-control problems with his voice related to Asperger’s but doesn’t qualify for disability because his particular diagnosis is very tricky.) All of this takes a great emotional toll on him as he’s forced to take a succession of temporary, low-paying data entry jobs to make ends meet, and the promises of temp-to-hire never seem to pan out. He has a keen intellect and is a really good guy. But as a hiring manager myself, it’s hard. I’ve had roles open up on my team that I’ve not told him about because knowing him well as I do, I know he would not be a good fit for the job or fit in well with the other team members because of his specific challenges. And that sucks, and I feel bad about it.

    This isn’t exactly the same as the OP but I want to say that it breaks my heart to see people with education and the desire to work be continually failed by society in this way.

  70. Michaela Westen

    It sounds like you’re way too invested in getting a job at this specific company. I used to get this way with both jobs and other things. I would have the impression “if I could work there everything will be wonderful, life will be perfect!”
    Since you did actually work there your good impression of the place is partially real but no job is perfect, including this one.
    It might help if you pay attention to getting out of this state of mind where you think you have to work at this company. Stop thinking about them and focus on finding a job that matches your strong points. You’ll end up with a job that’s just as good or even better.
    When I finally realized I should be looking for a job that matches my strengths instead of trying to be what job postings wanted, in a few months I got a much better job than I ever had before and I’m doing very well here.
    Good luck! :)

  71. Witchery

    OP, your consideration of reporting this to HR is what gives me serious pause about your professional judgement. The recruiter’s job is to fill the open position. His job is not to give *you* the position. He filled the position, and did his job, by finding a seemingly more qualified candidate than you (and he did his job despite his intentionally evil communication preferences and horrific choice of being born in the late 80s /s). You attempting to go around him to complain to HR because he did not chose you is problematic. This reminds me of the letter writer who wanted to “discipline” an interviewee for ghosting an interview. Professionally, Alison has given us wonderful advice for cover letters that encourage us to demonstrate how we are special and how we can contribute to a company’s goals, not about how we deserve to work there because we just want to. Also, while I’m so sorry your medical issues impacted your previous stint there, I’m curious if you left a good impression outside of your health problem. I didn’t get the impression that anyone would be enthused to have you back, whether that be due to your attitude or work performance. Good luck to you, truly, and while the commenters may seem harsh, the goal is to help you see things from outside of your perspective, which is often the hardest part of life, especially with the tunnel vision that often accompanies hard times or mental illness. Good luck finding a great job.

    1. Witchery

      I see that I posted this way late. I’m so glad the LW wrote back, and addressed some of the comments. We are rooting for you!

  72. Stuff

    I did notice one piece of this that stood out to me “two weeks ago, I interviewed for the customer service position and was not chosen.” I don’t know about this specific company but I have worked places that when you interview for one position that notes are sent to hiring managers for other positions. Both to recommend them and also to not recommend them for other positions. You have to consider the possibility that you “were” in effect interviewed for the higher position and not chosen.

  73. bluesuedeshoes

    I’ve been an internal and external recruiter and now work for a governmental entity that has a library system. Here’s the straight of it:
    1. Library/Editing positions are extremely competitive. We get more applicants for our library positions than just about any other job we post. And we get a lot of extremely experienced applicants.
    2. Anyone who has worked as a temp and been asked to leave due to poor performance will probably never get another opportunity at the organization they were asked to leave. May not be fair, but it’s the truth. There is no reason to go down that road when there are plenty of other qualified candidates out there. Why hire a known problem?
    3. I am not going to give any external candidate specific information or feedback about why they weren’t hired. WHY? Because it adds no value on our end and takes time away from those candidates we are trying to keep active in our process. And I don’t have the energy or time to argue with 200 candidates for 15 minutes about why they weren’t hired.
    6. That said, any candidate for a job should get some timely, polite, and basic communication via email about whether they are still a candidate or not and expected timelines for making decisions.

    And that is all that you can reasonably expect from a recruiter or any organization. We simply do not have the manpower to provide a personal contact to every candidate. I wish we did–I liked recruiting a lot better when we could. However, the internet has made it easy to apply for jobs and honestly we are all drowning. I personally looked at over 1000 applications just last week for various positions I’m handling.

    If you honestly think this is related to age discrimination you can contact the EEOC and file a complaint. That’s your recourse, not harassing the recruiter.

  74. Rutty

    This is why I love AAM. Alison, you are so thoughtful and kind. While answering LW’s questions point by point, you were honest and straightforward. You get a lot of these questions (why can’t I get hired here? Why won’t they call me back when I obviously need this job?) , but you took the time to break it down for this LW. Thank you for your individual touch.

  75. SoLateIForgotMyName

    OP I am late to this party, but you deserve a hug, a drink, and a high freaking five. You are doing crappy retail while job hunting and that is freaking hard in itself. I read over the other’s thoughts but didnt see this so Im adding it in case you see it- your closest family are saying you would do well in retail managment; that tells me youre organized, fair, and able to handle a lot of nonsense under pressure. Those skills and a masters degree would translate well into several other fields: medical insurance (either in the doctors office or in insurance claims) city/county clerk positions, assistant to a CPA or accountant. Basically any field where people tend to be high stress has a place where you could flourish in a “career change”. Alison had really great advice for you, but I know broadening my horizens made a huge difference when I was searching and I was very surprised to find I was not only qualified but welcomed into a position I never in a billion years would have thought my degree would work for. Good luck OP, youre going to get exactly where your going even if its in a boat rather than the wagon you envisioned!

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