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Michael B. Musgrove
5 min readJul 29, 2021

Epiphany! I finally figured out why I haven’t been getting hired, and why no one was telling me.

After months of applying to hundreds of jobs, going through countless interviews, Zoom meetings, and being introduced to everyone from the Founder and CEO to the janitor and night watchman at most places, which is a process that spanned weeks & months, I finally figured it out today.

I had been resistant to blaming being passed over on the 99-yard line each and every time after months of interviews at companies on eternal factors. It would seem easy to just cast blame on me being a middle-aged white guy in the middle of a new, Woke America. I don’t buy into all that racism and separatist jive and think it’s a negative place to be. No one thought like that until modern politics and media loomed more heavily from above over the past 13 years and America has been redefined culturally by those that aim to do so and spend their vast amounts of free time and money doing it. And the USA is worse, not better for it, in my opinion. But that’s another topic.

I had yet another, the millionth such preliminary “introductory” phone interview today to see what was the deal with my interest and to learn a little about the position and company and ask about how much money I wanted. That’s something that has become fine for the employer to ask right off the bat these days. It has always been forbidden for the candidate to come into the first meeting and ask about compensation. It was viewed as tacky, aggressive, inconsiderate about the job and company at hand, and putting the cart before the horse. But that doesn’t apply for employers who ask, right on the application these days, “What are your salary expectations?” Something to ponder and possibly a sense of who feels they have the upper hand and more leverage at the negotiation table. But not always. The person who puts down the first number is the one who yields in negotiations. It’s an unnecessary silly game sometimes, but one I know how to play.

Michael B. Musgrove

Featured in HBR (Oct. 11), MBA, published author and marketing professor. To start with.