Why you can't get a job and what you can do about it


  1. You’re generally unemployable
  2. You don’t really want to work anyway
  3. You’re not better than your competition
  4. You don’t bring anything to the job

  5. You’re generally un-employable

    My girlfriend was previously an employment counsel our and while that was an obviously small sample size, the one reoccurring theme she found with many of the people who came in was they had issues that made it hard for them to get jobs, that had nothing to do with their professional skills. For example, there was a client who was unwilling to commute to work because of how expensive it would be (we’re talking no more than $15/day here).

While there is no quick and easy fix for this, my advice is evaluate if you’re putting unnecessary road blocks in front of yourself when applying for jobs.

  1. You don’t really want to work anyway —- Society has burdened many young people with the idea that a job is something you just do for money and therefore it doesn’t matter if you’re happy or if it’s a good fit as long as it pays the bills.

While everyone is allowed to have their own opinion of the matter, I think that this leads to people not really wanting a job in the first place, especially if you’re fortunate enough not to have to work to survive (for example if you’re living ‘at home’)

I take a completely different approach to job hunting. I realize that when you include preparing and commuting you spend 10-12 hours a day on work related activities. Considering most days you’re only awake 16 hours, the vast majority of your day is spend on work, why shouldn’t you enjoy it?

My advice is think long and hard about what you would like to do and not what you think you can do. Don’t be afraid to try new things and get out of your field if need be.

  1. You’re no better than your competition —

In years gone by getting a job was much simpler. You got as much education as you could (which might not be more than elementary school) you dressed for your role and you went for an interview. Usually, after a few interviews you’d have a job working where you wanted.

Those days are long gone. The bar is getting higher as employers have a larger pool of very qualified applicants to choose from. Years ago it was hard and expensive to get a degree therefore making a candidate attractive if they had one. Now with the advent of OSAP and student loans, it’s become the norm for most people to get a degree even if they don’t know what they want to do in life.

To me, higher education should compliment your passion; higher education should allow you to enhance your craft. Higher education shouldn’t be forced on people because they need one to get a job (see point 2).

If you got a degree because you need one to get a job and live the American Dream ™ then you’re no better than your competition.

Now that everyone has a degree, you need more than a degree to stand out, to set you apart from everyone else. Employers need to see that you’re passionate about your field and you have insights and ideas that can’t be learned from some textbook written 20 years ago.

The best way to do that is to accomplish something in your field outside of school. Are you a Computer Science major? Go build a Facebook clone for fun. Electrical Engineer? Build a TV out light bulbs. Nutritionist? Volunteer at a soup kitchen and invent a menu to help patrons eat a better balanced diet.

While you obviously don’t have to do those exact things, you’re not going a job if your only experience is school and a few retail / camp counsellor jobs you ages ago.

  1. You don’t bring anything to the job —-

The biggest reason why an employer won’t hire you if your only experience is school is because school teaches you what’s been done years ago; it teaches things anyone in the industry learned already because they’re usually the ones who write the text books.

Companies (obviously) want to evolve and move forward. They want candidates that can confidently show that they understand how things are and they have the talent / vision to move things forward. Of course there are companies that just want bodies to fill chairs (call centres, sweatshops, ponzu schemes, etc) but most companies realize that simply hiring more employees is the wrong way to grow, they want to hire employees that give them a competitive edge as a company.

As per point 3, if you want to guaranty yourself a job, and a job you’ll probably love at that the best thing to do is to do something to set yourself apart, do something that demonstrates that you’re not just another university educated sap - show them what you can do and why they need you.

I realize for many people I’ll just come off as a guy who doesn’t know anything about how hard it is to find a job because I’m a software developer and everyone wants to hire programmers these days.

That’s simply not the case. This is advice I follow myself and advice that has put me in jobs that need “5 years of experience” since I was in high school. The only thing that truly separates me from anyone who’s unemployed is this advice, and the ambition to follow it.