Job Hunting Circa 2017 Is Absolutely Soul Sucking

Job Hunting Circa 2017 Is Absolutely Soul Sucking

I have been in active pursuit of better employment for running on 5 years now, and to date (August 14th, 2017) I am still batting .000%. A great big swing and a miss seemingly happening in perpetuity. It’s not from lack of trying! I routinely fill out 20+ online applications a month, but I rarely ever hear back from the companies that I am applying to. One might chock that up to the state of my resume, but I don’t think that is the case. I fine tune a resume for each position, making sure to include keywords from the job description. I have spent the last 10 years working in HR/Recruiting, so I don’t scrimp on my applications or resumes, as I am deadly serious about finding better employment and would not allow shoddy resumes to keep me from being a viable candidate for interview and hire. I am genuinely motivated to find a new company to call home for 3 key reasons.

  1. I am woefully underpaid for my skill set and repeated petitions for a raise with my current employer have been outright denied at the highest level (even though they admit that I am the top producing recruiter that they have).
  2. The cost of living has far outgrown my salary and I am constantly working odd jobs or selling personal items to make ends meet each month. In case you doubt the massive growth of the cost of living over the last 10 years, read this 2014 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that chronicles the changes in the cost of living over the last 30 years. TL;DR – It took $250 in 2014 to equal what you could buy in 1982 with $100! That’s 150% growth in 32 years! 
  3. I need to work somewhere that has a long term future for me. I presently don’t have any benefits (401k, medical, direct deposit, etc.) as the company I work for is considered a small business. Also, there is no upward mobility as it is a family run business with no less than 15 people from the 2 core families running the various aspects of the company which leaves absolutely no room for promotion. Bottom line, I’ll never grow where I am presently, and apparently I’ll never see a raise or benefits either (a co-worker who has been here 10 years confirmed, attaining a raise is unheard of).

So, search I shall until I can land that better employment. The big problem for me is that after 5 years it is frankly soul sucking to continually fill out all of the online forms, tweak the resumes, and jump through all of the hoops only to get no response from the company that I am applying to. Maybe I get an auto-generated email thanking me for my interest in the position. Then… nothing but deafening silence. It can be heart breaking, especially if you are like me and desperately need to find better work to put yourself in a viable position to support your family. It is a constant struggle to convince myself to go back to the PC and start looking for more possible job openings that I could apply for. Honestly, it feels harder now to find a good job than ever before in my life.

Why is job hunting so hard these days? What is really going on with the job market? I’ve been studying those very questions and have come to a few definitive conclusions. Here’s my perspective both from the POV of an applicant and from the HR side.

  1. The internet has made job hunting impersonal – Believe it or not, there used to be a time that you could meet people from a company that you wanted to work for, shake their hand, and make a great first impression that could lead to a terrific job. Those days are long gone. The internet has taken those days behind the shed and put ’em down like a rabid animal. Prospective employers by and large don’t meet with interested candidates before the application process anymore (and usually not after the application process is complete either). Everything must be done online. Everything. The application, resume attachment, cover letter, skills assessment, personality survey, aptitude tests, and even more all have to be done exclusively online. Many interviews now are not even in person either, they are over the phone or on Skype and take less than 5 minutes. It’s cold, impersonal, and leaves little opportunity to adequately pitch your value to the company. you are judged immediately on a handful of replies, and usually only by a gate keeper and not an actual manager with any hiring authority. It’s a frustrating experience, and leaves you wondering what you might have said wrong when you only got to say 3 sentences in the first place and in your mind they all sounded great.
  2. Because all applications have been funneled through the internet, the market has been flooded with unqualified applicants – This is a huge one folks. Haven’t heard back from that one job that you think you would be a perfect match for? It’s because they likely didn’t even look at your resume. If you are applying for a job through Careerbuilder, Monster, Indeed, etc. then your resume has almost positively gotten lost in the shuffle. Working in recruiting, I understand this one on a deep personal level. I post skilled trade jobs to the popular job sites mentioned above all the time and it takes less than 24 hours for my inbox to be filled with hundreds, sometimes thousands of resumes for each position. The problem is 99% of them are unqualified for the position. Just this morning I was looking through sent resumes for a “Robotic Welding Automation” posting, and after over 300 resumes viewed (of over 700 total sent), I found 3 possible good candidates. In the first 50 resumes reviewed, I had 32 that had only ever been retail cashiers, no welding experience robotic or otherwise at all. Mind you, candidates had to answer a pre-application questionnaire verifying their “Robotic Welding Automation” skills before they could even submit their resume in the first place. After calling all 3 of the aforementioned qualified candidates in for an interview, I stopped there. I’m far too busy to look at the other 400+ resumes, as I have thousands of other resumes to review for other positions that I am actively recruiting for as well. HR/Recruiters just don’t have enough hours in the day to comb through every last resume. It is literally impossible for us to do our job and read every single resume that flies into our inbox. I can guarantee you that thousands of resumes a day are being discarded without ever being seen, because I and the many other recruiters I know do it all the time. The best advice I can give you is to get your resume submitted as soon as a job posting goes live, as being on the top of the stack may be the best/only chance you’ll actually get seen at all by HR.
  3. Companies are still acting like it is 2008 – What I mean by this is twofold. 1) Companies are acting like the economy is still swirling the bowl (BTW, it isn’t) and making low-ball salary offers. 2) Many companies are not posting their better positions online, instead choosing to promote/recruit from within and post their low salary low hanging fruit entry level jobs in their place. Both of these make it difficult to find a great job, especially if you are expertly skilled or seeking managerial work. The first point is exceedingly glaring as the cost of living has changed significantly in the last 10 years and skilled salaries have not increased with the changes. I’m still making roughly what I made 10 years ago, and it simply isn’t cutting it. Even my Glassdoor salary value based on skills, experience, and job stability shows that I should be making a minimum of 15k more per year than I actually am. Try asking for the salary that you deserve, and my experience has been that the company you are interviewing with will tell you that they couldn’t possibly pay that figure, and then hit you with their unusually low counter salary proposal. I have excused myself from interviews when they hit me with ridiculous salary quotes that are both insulting and not with the effort of attempting to negotiate from. I know my value and I am seeking better employment, not simply looking to tread water on the vague promise of something better later. the second point is tough for me as well, as I far too skilled for entry level, and my salary demands require more than the low hanging fruit positions can afford. The company will tell you to get in on the ground floor and work your way up, which may be sound advice if you can afford the pay decrease. I cannot afford it, and as such I restrict my job hunting to positions that I am both qualified for and that should pay the salary that I have to achieve in order to best support my family.
  4. In my opinion, knowing someone within the company is the best path to success – In point 1, I stated that the application process is impersonal, and it totally is, however there is a way to add a personal touch in the process. Networking. In my experience, the best way to land a quality job is to know someone there before you even consider applying. It has worked for me numerous times before, and although it has been slow going recently, I still believe it will be how I land my next job. Also, from the recruiting side, I am far more likely to call a quality referral from a good employee first than an online applicant that appears to have the right skills. Networking like this can be tricky, as it may require you to go outside of your comfort zone and actively engage your friends and previous bosses/coworkers in conversations about what they are working on, who they are working for, and if there is any need for more workers with your skill sets. It is an awkward conversation to be sure because it is wholly unnatural, especially if they are someone that you don’t talk to on a frequent basis. Awkward though it may be, I have been pushing myself further in this direction and am hopeful that it will yield better results than the endless hours of fruitless online applications. I’ve had a couple friends who have found great jobs through a friend of a friend recently, and I’m definitely needing that magic to work in my life, so I am going to continue to work that angle the most. Bottom line, if you are in a position to help someone who is a good worker and could use a helping hand getting into a tough to get position with your employer, as rough as this crazy job market is, you really ought to help your friend out.

My best advice for job hunters who are disheartened: Don’t give up, just go on!

This online only stuff is the new normal. We have to adapt to the failure of not hearing back from the companies that we spend hours applying to and find smarter ways to find better employment. We also need to work on our networking skills, as who you know is still one of the most important things in landing a good job, although being talented in your trade, professionalism, and solid people skills are equally important. More than anything, don’t give up, just go on! Listen to Steve and the gang from Blue’s Clues (just substitute “job” for the word “clue”). You gotta keep plugging away until you finally succeed… and you will! We all will so long as we keep trying and adapting. Getting noticed by a company at all takes a tremendous amount of planning and effort, and it can make you feel like a salmon swimming upstream… pushing through the pain and fatigue to move forward through the long and perilous journey to achieve your goal. Patience and perseverance is the name of the game. We can do it! So don’t give up, just go on!

Related posts

Leave a Reply