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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why You Don't Get Hired (Even if You Are Christian)

(This post, recently updated, was first written in 2008 after a series of applicants who tried "Christian guilt", unsuccessfully, as a strategy for getting an interview.)

There is, unfortunately, a sub-culture within Christianity that believes an undesirable outcome means that those responsible are unchristian.  I've been in HR for over 30 years in four industries and I can say that this is unique to staffing Christian businesses.

In the mind of the applicant the narrative goes something like this:

1.  God spoke to me and told me that I was supposed to work at your company.

2.  You aren't interviewing me or hiring me.

3.  You must not be Christian because you're not doing God's will


So just to be clear, here are the reasons (either singularly or in combination) why we don't hire someone:

1.  There isn't an opening  (I can't make a spot that doesn't exist)
2.  There is an opening, but you are not qualified
3.  You cannot tell me what position interests you ("please read my resume and tell me what you have")
4.  Your resume shows lots of jobs, an uneven salary history, and is missing former supervisors
5.  Your salary demands are two or three times more than the position pays and you want to negotiate
6.  You are "high maintenance" as an applicant (so what will you be like as an employee?)
7.  You can't pass a drug test
8.  You can't pass a criminal background check
9.  You don't live near any of our locations but want to work from home right from the start
10. You are applying for an entry-level job but want us to pay for your relocation

Note that none of these has anything to do with us not being Christians. Actually we are.  Really, we are!

Please know that I mean no disrespect to the millions of people trying their best to find work in a still recovering economy.  We in HR are in the people business and we never take people's needs for employment lightly. We treat every applicant with courtesy and respect.  My focus in this post is that subset of applicants who want to tell me that God or my exec team will punish me for not hiring them.

Maybe the reason you are not getting hired is much closer to home than me or God (see 1 - 10 above). Instead of the guilt trip, or the God's gonna get 'cha strategy, focus on targeting a job for which you are qualified, writing a cover letter (remember those?), writing a really clear resume, maybe take a class or two to update your skills, and be courteous to the HR people you contact.

I believe prayer works, but prayer and really solid preparation on your part is a great combination.

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