About a year ago, I was laid off from the university I worked for, after the division I was in was cut due to the director's departure. Since then, I have applied for many jobs there, and never even get rejection letters. Once I did get a phone interview that went very well, but I never heard anything. After a couple of weeks, I emailed both the assistant who interviewed me and the project PI, but neither got back. After two more weeks, I left phone messages, and still nothing.

A couple of months ago, I called the person who was my previous director's boss and asked if there was any kind of reason this might be happening. He said he checked my HR record and saw only good evaluations.

A few weeks ago, I directly contacted a PI about a posted position and was called in for an interview. Over a week ago, I received an email from the PI that my references had great things to say about me, and they were working with HR to write me an offer. After a week went by, I politely pinged - two days have passed since then and I've heard nothing.

It seems like even when someone at the university wants to hire me, they run into a hitch with HR that they won't even respond about. I'm very concerned that there is some skull-and-crossbones symbol or red alarm buzzer that turns on when HR types my name into the system.

I've considered contacting HR directly, but then I also wonder if I should be consulting a lawyer first.

How can I find out if there is some kind of note on my HR record that says "forget this guy, and don't even respond?"

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    Possible duplicate of How do I prevent recruiters from "ghosting" on me? – DarkCygnus Jun 21 '18 at 15:58
  • I also think the above linked question might be highly related, or even perhaps a duplicate of your situation (specially the no contacting part), if you want to consider it. – DarkCygnus Jun 21 '18 at 15:58
  • What exactly do you hope to accomplish by calling HR? The PI said you have a good standing with HR, so I'm unsure what you would hope in getting. My advice is to take your resume and get a second opinion on your interviewing skills. – Dan Jun 21 '18 at 16:13
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    @DarkCygnus -- good point. I edited the question. – abalter Jun 21 '18 at 16:30
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    Dan--the problem is that any time someone actually looks like they might be interested in me--even to the point of telling me they are writing an offer--I never hear from them again, and they don't respond to further attempts at communication. – abalter Jun 21 '18 at 16:30

How can I find out if there is some kind of note on my HR record that says "forget this guy, and don't even respond?"

You can't.

At least not without pulling strings or somehow managing for someone to leak this information, but that I doubt would be legal or ethical. Also, asking them directly is out of the question, as it could further harm you plus they might not have the clearance to disclose that information.

I suggest you try searching for jobs elsewhere, otherwise you might find yourself stuck in a loop if you keep trying with this university.


If you can get a friend to call, doing a mock "verification of employment" call, you can see how HR is referring to you.

There are plenty of website that show how to make that call LIKE THIS ONE

Have a friend make the call and see what happens. IF they're being less than professional in that call, see a lawyer.

  • As I read the question, OP is trying to apply to the same university, so I'm not sure this is applicable. – Dukeling Jun 21 '18 at 17:29
  • @Dukeling IF they're doing this internally, there is no reason to expect that they're not doing it to external inquiries as well. – Old_Lamplighter Jun 21 '18 at 17:49
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    There's a big difference between bad-mouthing a former employee and simply deciding not to rehire someone you laid off. The latter sounds perfectly reasonable and legal and could theoretically even just be standard application rejections that have nothing to do with any sort of black mark. – Dukeling Jun 21 '18 at 18:17
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    @Dukeling plenty of room for another answer if you disagree.... – Old_Lamplighter Jun 21 '18 at 18:28

Where are you located? Check your local data protection laws. If you were in the UK for example, you could simply request a copy of any data they have on you.

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