There’s no lack of stories about “the job that got away.” Depending on the job, a company or agency might review dozens or hundreds of applications for a single position. But in the end, the job usually goes to just one person. That leaves everyone else to wonder why they didn’t get it.
This is still true for federal applications, even though they’re often different than private sector applications. The process is generally more structured. There are all kinds of rules to ensure that the best, most qualified candidate gets the job. Yet there are still some people who try to cheat those rules.
What’s the real reason you didn’t get hired?
There are all kinds of reasons that companies, agencies and hiring managers may choose one candidate over another. As a result, it’s often difficult to know the true reason you weren’t selected. However, if you were clearly more qualified than the person who got hired, you might wonder if you weren’t given a fair shot.
There are two common reasons that people and agencies ignore the better candidate:
- Discrimination. You may be denied a job due to factors that have nothing to do with your ability to succeed in the role. The law prohibits such discrimination when it targets your race, gender, age, religion or any other protected class.
- Retaliation. It’s not uncommon for employees to face retaliation after they speak up against problems in the workplace. Some may be fired. Others may be kept on—only to find their careers have been stunted. They may be taken off key projects, stripped of security clearances or kept out of jobs for which they are eminently qualified.
Discrimination and retaliation are 100% illegal, but they’re both far more common than you might expect. The problem is that it’s often difficult to prove either is the true reason behind a hiring decision. Agencies commonly offer legitimate reasons, and you may need solid documentation and a skilled attorney to find the holes in their excuses.
Do you have a case?
It can be difficult to prove that you were passed over for a job due to discrimination or retaliation. But it’s not impossible. You need solid evidence, but it doesn’t have to be blatant enough to “jump off the page and slap you in the face.” Instead, you need to show that you were clearly the better candidate—according to any reasonable standard.
Is it worth the effort? It depends on your case. But missing out on a government job affects more than your current wages. It can also affect your Thrift Savings Plan, your pension and your future.