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Sorry, you can’t actually bully your way into a new job

I’m answering a question today about a job seeker who can’t seem to land interviews — let alone jobs — even though they’re more than qualified for available positions.

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I’ve been looking for a job for two months without landing one. It torches me that I’ve not even been interviewed for jobs I’m more than qualified for. I’ve been an office manager for a day care center, a shoe salesperson who was almost promoted to supervisor before I left for personal reasons, and I ran my own small dog-sitting business. So when a two-person company advertised that they needed an assistant to handle their office duties, I thought I’d be the perfect hire.

I wrote them a letter telling them I could run their office, and with my business and sales experience, I could help them grow. I waited a day, expecting them to be excited to talk with me, but when I called them, they said they’d picked three candidates to interview and they were sorry, but I wasn’t one.

I was shocked, but swallowed my irritation and said that I would be the best assistant he could dream of. He said, “Thank you, but I need to go now,” and hung up. I called him right back and asked that he reconsider. He said no. When I asked why, he said he thought I wouldn’t be happy with an assistant job.

I wouldn’t work for him now if he begged me, but I want to know what I could have done to improve my chances of landing the interview — and the job.

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You can’t bully your way into a job.

Although you view yourself as highly qualified, this employer might have seen other applicants as more right for an assistant job. In fact, you somewhat shot yourself in the foot by your initial letter, which showed that you saw yourself as better than the job for which you applied. They wanted someone to handle office duties and correctly assessed that you’d want more of a job than they offered.

Your résumé presents another problem. You’ve been an entrepreneur, a salesperson and have done office work. You believe your background makes you a well-rounded candidate. An employer might view it as “all over the map” and also reflective of an individual who might be highly independent and hard to manage. Before you apply for your next job, redo your résumé so it directly targets the job for which you’re applying.

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Have a question for Lynne? Email her at with subject “SheKnows” and she may answer your question (confidentially) in an upcoming piece on SheKnows.

© 2016, Lynne Curry. Lynne authored Solutions and Beating the Workplace Bully, AMACOM. You can also follow Lynne@lynnecurry10 on Twitter or access her other posts on SheKnows, or

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