TAO Self-help

Title:Why Job Search Is SO Hard Today

Author:Susan P. Joyce, © All rights reserved

Date:August 2014


The convergence of competition and technology has created the "perfect storm" of elements to make a job search very challenging today. That doesn't mean it's impossible to land a job now " more than 4 MILLION people are hired every month in the USA.

However, landing a job takes focus and effort. Understanding what is happening from the employers' perspective will help you see how you can improve your techniques for a better outcome.

1. Employers are overwhelmed with applicants.

The average job posting receives over 250 applications!

Over 9 million people are unemployed and, according to recent studies, most of the people who have jobs would rather be working somewhere else. So, posting a job is almost a hazardous experience for an employer.

Two hundred and fifty applications for each job creates a lot of reading! And, just imagine if the employer has more than one job open! The problem of finding the best applicants in the big crowd is increased exponentially!

2. Most of the applicants are not obviously qualified for the job.

Sadly, these days, most of those 250 applicants are not clearly qualified for the job. They might be qualified, but they haven't made it obvious to the employer that they are qualified. So, the majority of applicants are ignored.

With recent studies showing that the average job seeker spends only 80 seconds reading a job description before hitting the "apply" button, it's not surprising that most job seekers don't appear to be qualified for the jobs they apply for.

3. The flood of applications has led to the use of technology to manage the flow.

Particularly for employers with more than 100 employees, managing the high volume of applications requires the use of technology " resume databases or applicant tracking systems ("ATS").

An ATS allows the employer to search through all those applications to find the candidates with the right set of skills and experience " to find the clearly qualified candidates in the flood of resumes.

4. Few applications are actually seen by a human being.

The widespread use of applicant tracking systems, used by an estimated 90% of employers, has really changed the game. Dramatically!

Applicant tracking systems have blown away the one-size-fits-all resume submission process because that single version of the resume may NOT contain the right words the right "keywords" - for each job description.

Applicant tracking systems enable employers to search all the submitted resumes and applications for specific keywords " the keywords that describe the skills, certifications, technologies, education, and other criteria required for each different job. What does this mean to job seekers?

For example, an employer may specify that the job requires "experience managing a LinkedIn Group." Assume that the job seeker does actually have that experience, but on their resume, they describe it as "experience managing social media communities"

"Social media communities" does certainly include LinkedIn Groups, but does not actually use the words "LinkedIn Groups" as specified in the job description. OOPS!

Opportunity lost! Even though the candidate, in this case, did meet the requirement because the right keywords ("LinkedIn Groups") were not included in the application.

The employer would prefer to evaluate all qualified candidates, but not all candidates understand how to make themselves visible to the employer.

Solution to the ATS Invisibility Problem:

Become visible by analyzing the keywords used in the job description and including those specific words and phrases in your resume or application.

In our example above, the job seeker could have added the term, "including LinkedIn Groups" to the resume that was submitted, and it would then have been found in a search of the ATS on the term "LinkedIn Groups". NOT THAT HARD TO DO!

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff "graduate" who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, and Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org, is a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a columnist on HuffingtonPost. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.

Featured Employers all