Why You Can’t Get a Job

Whatever You're Thinking, Think Bigger.

Why You Can’t Get a Job.

(Updated 21 April 2020)

From time to time here on PhilFAQS, the destination site for information about living in the Philippines, I actually try to give useful advice.

One query I get often, both in personal contact and via searches that lead people to this site via Google and other search engines is: Finding a job in the Philippines.

Another top topic here and among a large percentage of Filipinos I know who are looking for work is resumes and job qualifications.

So this post series is going to apply pretty much equally to foreigners wanting to find a job in the Philippines and Filipinos wanting to find a job … in the Philippines or. well, anywhere I guess ;-)

Finding a Job in the Philippines

Or finding a job anywhere else on earth.  It’s a broad and complex subject.  More than I can possibly cover adequately in a thousand words or so here.

Both of these issues center around one fact of business life … you are typically one of many applicants and a lot of the initial screening process is done via resumes.

If yours gets tossed in an initial review the people higher up in the hiring company will never know you even exist.

So one issue then is vital … get your resume at least into the pile that gets read the second time around.

You’d Be Shocked At How Few People Looking For A Job Even Have a Current Resume.

I’ve read thousands of resumes in the past 30 years.

I worked in a government office where we managed large contracts and typically read thousands of resumes to determine if the proposed staff for a contract that would execute the project was adequate for the government’s needs.

Then, after that job I worked for a small tech company where we often had to rapidly hire some software engineers and I worked directly in the process receiving (and filing away) all resumes.

Why You Can't Get a JobI Read A LOT Of Resumes.  I Kept Very Few.

For all I know your resume might have been one of the ones I threw in the ‘circular file’.

Want to know why?

I was never in a position to hire a senior vice president or top level manager.

I was trying to evaluate or hire mid-level technical folks who would actually be productive.

If you truly fit into one of those senior level positions, you’re reading the wrong blog … go find one that deals with calling endless meetings for other endless meeting callers, here we are all about the ‘worker bee’ level

Education Only Means So Much

Was the applicant’s education important?

Of course.

But was their education what I looked at first?


If you are applying for, let’s say, a software engineer position, I’m going to assume you have a bachelors degree in software engineering or a closely related discipline.

I will check into that after I move resumes to a ’short list’ pile that consists of people I think can produce code, rather than manage, impress and obfuscate progress.  You’d be shocked at how many software professionals submit resumes that never express the idea that they can write code.

When I first drafted this post I thought it would be short and to the point

(haa, right, Dave, when did that ever happen).

But I now realize just how many useful tips can be covered here and how many people can benefit from my experience, not only with finding a job here in the Philippines but in finding a job back home, or anywhere else.

Here are Some Tips To Get You Going

I’ll write more then, on the “finding a job” subject, soon.

Meanwhile, I want you to read this post from Joel Spolsky, a long-time blogging associate of mine who successfully built his own software company from the ground up in New York.

It is written to software developer candidates but it doesn’t matter what your field is, just translate the software-specific tasks and metrics into the special items in your particular field.

His post is well worth reading, but if you won’t/can’t get over to read the whole thing, remember the gist of it … successful resumes are resumes that showed the candidate got his or her hands dirty. Have you gotten your hands dirty?

Take it away, Joel …

Are you a software developer applying to a small company?

Did you read Joel’s article?

OK, Time To Swallow a Few “Knowledge Pills”

I have had these forced down my throat over the past sixty years or so of being in the job market … yes I was working, and paying my Social Security taxes before I was 13, no hyperbole there.

I’ve been working a LOT of years.

Earlier in this article, and in Joel’s “Hands Dirty” article we talked a bit about being oriented to what the customer (I mean the potential employer) might need.

I’m going to expand on this a little more because I feel it is the area that the majority of job seekers fall down on the most.  It’s NOT what YOU want (a job, obviously) it’s about what the EMPLOYER NEEDS.

First, recognize a fact.

You suck.

Huh?  Well yes, actually, we all do in some way or another.

Most job seekers seem to feel they are going to get selected by showing their superiority to the other applicants in terms of education, years of experience and other common “crappola” you will frequently see in resume writing books.

I really don’t care who you are or what you know.

It’s likely you will be outclassed by someone else in the stack of resumes.

How do you differentiate yourself?


Figure out your USP … your unique selling proposition.

What makes you a better candidate to solve the problem that is causing the employer to hire someone in the first place.

Business (including job hiring) is all about sales.

If you are a job candidate, YOU are the product.  Make the employer want you.

A problem you say? 

Yep. You need to work on this way harder than the work you put into finding superlatives to decorate your resume with.  What did you actually produce for your employer?   What problems dd you actually solve?  What products or programs did you produce?

Recognize a second fact.

Companies do not exist to hire people.  They exist to make money.

An ideal company would be a “one-man-band” with the owner becoming fantastically rich all by himself, with no employees.

Of course, that won’t happen in the real world, but every single time a job gets created, it happens to solve a problem.

Do you watch detective shows?  Can you sniff out the problem?  Figure out why the job opening exists and what the company needs.

This will help you outshine all the glossier resumes or better-regarded schools that your competition graduated from.

Don’t tell me how smart you are, tell me what you did to make your last employer successful.

Be a person.

A company is not a machine.  Neither are you.

How many times have you responded to a job advertisement with a personal letter to the person doing the hiring?

Do you know where s/he went to school and how long they have been with their company?

Likely, no.

Think you could find out?

Likely, yes.

  • Use Linked in and other directories.
  • Scour the company’s website

(hint, learn to use Google to search for particular document types like spreadsheets and PowerPoint briefings.)  

  • Search the site of the companies you are interested in that way.

(I’ve found organizational charts, strategy briefings, even spreadsheets of salaries … if they left it in public view, it’s fair game.)

Can’t find anything online?

  1. Read the papers and specialized trade journals (they are all available online)
  • And here’s a big differentiator … pick up the freakin’ phone and call the company.
  • Ask for the director of the department you think is hiring.  They might even come on the line have a chat.
  • If you run into a stone wall with a receptionist, then tell them you need to send the person an important document and get their name and business address.
  • Make notes of names you hear along the way and be a bit persistent.

About 99.9999% of your competition isn’t doing this, and even if your call is international you can’t get more information more quickly and efficiently by any other means.

Too shy to be this bold?

Overcome it … who wants to hire someone who can’t even pick up a phone and talk? do you want a job or not?

OK, there are a few pointers that should help.  Talk to me and the rest of the readers about the good and bad things that have happened.

The two most important tips I have saved for last.

  1. Do Something: Each and every day.  Don’t send off a resume and then wait weeks to hear something.  Apply elsewhere, contact people directly, write thank you notes to people who turn you down, research, apply and research more.  Most people who are looking for a job do so little.  Work 12 hours a day 6 or 7 days a week … your competition isn’t working that hard, and that is one of those USP’s I talked about.
  2. Communicate:  Who will answer your phone?  You do have an answering machine or voice mail, don’t you?  Return all calls, immediately.  And answer your email. Hover over your inbox and shoot out replies the instant something comes in.  You’d be surprised how few people do this and how effective it is.

What else can I say about Why You Can’t Get a Job?

2 thoughts on “Why You Can’t Get a Job”

  1. A friend of mine, a former Marine really wanted a certain position. He submitted résumé after résumé, called, contacted mutual friends and nothing worked. He then bought a large sheet cake and had it decorated like a résumé, complete with his name and contacts.

    It worked!! They hired him and told him later that they knew he REALLY wanted the job.

    1. @ Fred

      Thanks for contributing. I love that story.

      I also knew of a guy, call him Joe, who wanted a particular job and found that the president of the company with the job he wanted had a blog. “Joe” bought Google ads (you can buy them just for specific target sites, they cost only pennies per click that way) that read “Joe loves the XYZ corp and he’s the man for the job”.

      By the time the company president found out who “Joe” was, the decision had already been made to hire him, more than any other reason, the fact that he could “think outside the box”.

      If I were looking for a job in the Philippines, I could think of a lot of websites I’d buy ads on. hey, Google ads don’t cost anything unless someone clicks on them, and if they click, they are on a direct route to reading your resume’, which is what the game is all about.

      Best regards.

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