Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

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I am flustered beyond comprehension. I have to post anon because this has to do with work issues and friends in higher positions and the like. Okay, here is my grief: I was referred for a management position in city government by a friend who's worked for the city for over ten years. This friend is highly regarded and I really respect and like this person. I was highly complimented that he referred me. He encouraged me to apply and gave the department a thumbs up, assuring me that they were good to work with and I'd be a nice fit. I applied and got an interview. For this interview, I was to create a campaign presentation. I created it, along with the process on how I came up with it, what my thought process was and why. The whole nine yards. The interview went well. I interviewed with one of the managers of the department and two others that are involved, who are also in management positions. They appeared to be impressed. Everything seems to be working out well. I make it to the second round interview, and they ask me to bring my presentation. I meet with the president of the department, and his right hand person. The third person in the second interview is also with the city with a different department. Long story short, I get the stink eye the very moment I am introduced to the president's right hand person. The interview seemed flat. They didn't seem interested or really all that professional, and I learn later the reason. At the end, they wanted to see my presentation and so as I'm doing that, they cut me off a couple minutes later, "due to time" and I left, feeling deflated. That was the last I'd heard from them. I even told my husband they didn't seem interested (except for the person from the other department - to which my friend who had referred me said was a good sign.) Several weeks go by and I figure they chose another candidate. When my friend who referred me asked if I'd heard back from them, I told him no and mentioned that I was a bit disappointed they did not at least send one of those boilerplate emails telling me I didn't get the job. My friend then told me it often takes them a very long time to make a decision, and that he would check in with them for any updates. A couple days later, his response ended up being a text with a link to a job opening with a private company in town. In other words, he was telling me to move on and forget about working for the city. He couldn't tell me what happened because that would put his position in jeopardy. Come to find out a few weeks later, the officer who had me work on that presentation, the woman I interviewed with the first round, with whom I corresponded in the whole pre-interview and interview process, got her boyfriend the job. For what it's worth, she's closer to my age, late forties, and the boyfriend is much younger, therefore has no experience for the position. His resume is online and when i say he has no experience, I'm not exaggerating. What pisses me off is not that I thought this job was mine. I'm pissed that I was never considered for the position in the first place. It was all rigged. I spent effort, money and time and they had no intention of hiring me. I could go on about the details but will digress. My husband says to leave my friend out of it, because I wanted to vent to that friend. So, I'm leaving my friend out of it. I'm thinking hard on writing an interview review on Glassdoor. One reason for writing it would be to raise a red flag for anyone considering working with this group. I am not worried about burning bridges with them. They are in their own world and I have no desire to ever work with them in any capacity. My friends and my husband agree with me and are supportive of me on this too. So, there it is. Any ideas? Any advice? This is still fresh for me. I found out all this info almost two weeks ago.

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    This happens all the time .. which doesn't make it right!

    In general, you need to be very wary about government/public sector work postings in particular. There is almost always a very detailed hiring system set up, which MUST be followed, to (theoretically) encourage applications from outside. However, there are often people working on the inside to game that system.

    Sometimes its because they've got a friend they want to hire; more frequently, there's someone ALREADY working there who is looking to move up a position. But in either event, the hiring system *demands* that the position be posted, and that external applicants be interviewed ... but everyone in the office (including the interviewers) is pulling for the internal candidate to get promoted (or for the friend who is already known to the staff to get hired), and the whole process is really a sham.

    About your only defense is to have a mole on the inside who can tell you if there is a viable internal candidate/friend applying for the same job. If you don't have that knowledge? It COULD be a legitimate hiring opportunity...maybe.

    I'd encourage you to post your experiences on Glassdoor, leaving out any particularly identifying details about yourself if you can. After all, if you'd had advance warning of this employer's attitudes beforehand, you may have approached things very differently -- so why not give the next person in line the same advantage? It may give you a little satisfaction to know that you've given some other applicants a fair preview of what might be in store for them!

    reply to Kal
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    Thank you, Kal. BTW, side note - the manager that reached out to my friend, asking if he knew anyone for this job, is from Canada. Anyway, he was my contact who received my resume, then he directed me to fill in my application online and follow up with HR. I don't know if this manager was aware of what was going on. If so, he didn't tell my friend. Long story short, when my friend told me about the job, I'd told him of my job seeking and interviewing woes prior to this, and that I was reticent to apply. He assured me the department was above board and good to work with and thought I'd be great for the job. He would not have encouraged me had he known what was up. I'm guessing he's a little miffed too.

    I know they needed a warm body to interview, and that whole process you talk about. Red tape and all. But still! Why did they have me do all that work and put on this dog and pony show? They didn't have to do that. And then go on to add insult to injury by just giving it to this woman's side biscuit. (Which is fine. I dodged a bullet because screw them.) She choreographed all this. She took a photo of my presentation and requested i email her a digital file of it, so I did. I feel like a fool. Why did she do all that? She gives a bad name to women who profess women's rights. She's full of crap. What a disappointment. I can't think she's scoring any points with her peers. They have to work with this kid.

    As for the review I'm going to write, yes. I am going to be very succinct without giving a any details that would give me away, although I really want to harp on a detail or two. It won't be hard to figure out who i am though. Its a new department within the department and I don't think they've been interviewing a whole lot of people. I really don't care. Should I?

    Thanks for being such a good listener and advisor, Kal!

    reply to anonymous
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    Anon, the same thing happened to me! I work as a consultant for a major public institution and when an internal post came up I was excited! I applied, together with 2 other consultant colleagues, only to have the job go to somebody else...who it turns out, was an acquaintance the higher boss had already met at a conference. So yes, I felt like a fool in this charade where the person to get the job was well set up in advance.

    Yes, it feels like a waste of your time and hopes but it has only proven to you this workplace might not be for you, that you certainly can deliver excellent interviews and can do better someplace else.

    So, take it as a learning opportunity and simply move on.
    Better things wait await for you...in my case it turned out to be true indeed!

    reply to Gerbera
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    I guess a lot depends on what you want to get from this experience. Do you want to move on to bigger and better things, leaving this bad stuff behind you, feeling relieved that you DIDN'T get a job with this group? Do you want to analyse the issue at length, reflecting that every time you get a job someone probably feels mad as hell about the unfairness involved in your hiring? Or do you want to give them a little of their own medicine? (I mean time wasting.) If so, you could ring up every single person who interviewed you and ask for feedback on why you didn't get the job, explaining humbly, with a quiver in your voice, that it would really help you find work, which you are very keen to do, gasp sniff. Make sure you have a nice long list of questions to ask ("Is my voice squeaky? Do I sound bat-like to you? How about my hair color?" The dumber the questions, the better, as this increases the stress levels of the people you are talking to - the pressure to be polite at work is high for most folks. Ensure you have friends with you while you make the calls, stuffing their fists into their mouths and chortling, as this will significantly enhance your enjoyment of the experience. You know, in war time, they say it's best not to shoot to kill your enemy: give him a bad wound. That way you tie up a lot of the enemy's resources: health care, rehabilitation, awful war poetry which kids are forced to study in school. So tie up the resources of the people who screw with you. Unless of course you want to be gracious and take it on the chin. (Just to be ABSOLUTELY clear, I'm not advocating shooting ANYONE.)

    reply to Barbara
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    Thanks for your insight, Gerbera and Barbara. I was always pretty much familiar with the hiring process in the public sector. The fact that the extra stuff that was included was such BS and was just all such a put on is what was so annoying and disappointing. It would be funny to call and ask a bunch of silly questions to be a smart arse jerk back to them and to waste their time, if I could get them to come out from under their rock. *meow!* But, I get what youíre saying, Barbara. I am taking it on the chin and am focusing on more worthwhile endeavors. Thank you for listening and letting me vent, everyone!

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