10 Reasons Why It’s Hard to Get a Job Today

It’s not just you. Despite the unemployment rate being at a 49 year low, a good job is hard to come by even if you’re 100% qualified. Elements such as bad interviewers, not having ‘the right’ college degree, and stagnant wages are just some ways you’re not finding the job you deserve. Why?

The hiring system is broken:

#1: Priorities and perceived needs have shifted

Many companies do not prioritize their recruiting resources and in turn sacrifice both talent and job impact. An example of this is ‘experience inflation’ or ‘degree inflation’, whereby jobs that in the past did not require a certain requirement (such as a Bachelor of Arts degree) are now standard. An “entry-level” job requires years of experience (approximately 3 years!) and creates a credential gap that disadvantages middle-class workers.

Not only does this hurt jobseekers, but it costs employers money creating an unsustainable cycle.

#2: Increased Outsourcing + Remote Work

Today, you’re not only competing with local jobseekers, but jobseekers from all over the country (and possible world). Due to the low unemployment rates and talent shortage, employers are establishing more flexible work models which includes freelancers and contract work. The use of contractors has increased 24% since 2017, and more than half of hiring managers use the remote work model (59%).

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#3: Being ‘black-holed’ is commonplace

Our team coined the term ‘black-holed’ to mean resumes falling into the great abyss post-submission. You could have the perfect resume and be 100% qualified and this will enviably happen to you. “Ghosting” candidates (or lack of communication and transparency) contributes to the broken hiring system. As a result, it’s even becoming a trend where job candidates are ghosting hiring managers and new employers!

#4: Robots (aka the ‘ATS’)

The ‘ATS’ or applicant tracking systems are key word parsers that score resumes based on particular words being used; most often it will be the exact phrasing being used in job descriptions. If your resume is not machine parsable it will most likely not make it through to the actual human hiring manager. Both large and small companies use an ATS to widdle down large candidate pools. Be mindful of word choice and keywords and keep your resume short. The cover letter is where you have an opportunity to differentiate yourself and let your personality shine through.

#5: Heightened Competition

The normalization of higher education is creating a flatter, more even playing field. The power of education cannot be underestimated and should be upheld and fostered, but does pose a challenge in terms of competition where the college degree represents the new high school diploma. More qualified, educated people means more competition for jobs across industry.

#6: Time is against you

There will never be more than 10-15 interview slots for a job opening, no matter how many people applied. Any given manager’s calendar will usually be filled for days at a time with interviews during a hiring period. As an example, our CEO/founder Kushal shared his personal calendar when trying to hire for particular position. As you can see, it’s crazy:

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He said that to interview just 3% of the applicant pool, he basically did nothing but interviews for all of Friday (the blurred names are interviews). There were another ~2 days like this after having made a shortlist (3% of the total pool of hundreds).

#7: “The Perfect Candidate”

Many employers drag their feet in search of the ‘perfect hire’. It’s due to lack of recruiting priorities and not setting internal/external schedules for positions. For the candidate, that might mean waiting an unnecessarily extended period of time to hear a hiring update of any kind.

#8: Terrible Candidate Screening

There’s nothing worse than actually making it to an interview and the person sitting across conducting it asks half-hearted, unrelated, or uninformed questions:

  • What is your biggest weakness? 
  • Tell me what you think about the individuals you just met with?
  • How would you calculate the production and sales of all the white paint in the US?

Such lazy, oddball questions predict very little and may even create a sense of resentment from the get-go.

#9: Hiring Manager Biases

Employers are people too, and, of course, people are inherently (subconsciously) biased. This shows up more prominently in work environments with unstructured hiring processes and those that fail to set diversity standards.

Our data suggests that there are data-driven ways to force objectivity such as quantifying experience and avoiding collaboration-oriented words.

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#10:  Resume Blemishes

If you were previously fired, laid off or left a job before 18 months you have what is called a resume blemish and it hurts your hireability. How much does it hurt? Controlling for experience, people who were fired, laid off or quit in the first 15 months of a job were 43% less hireable when applying to new jobs.

Whereas everyone else saw a 13.4% interview callback rate, the callback rate was only 7.6% for these folks. Averaging across industries and cities, getting fired meant roughly same as wiping out ~5 years of experience for them.

Conclusion

It’s hard to have a favorable hiring experience in general when the system is broken. From submitting great resumes that fall into a black-hole to decisions being made weeks from whence you expected, it’s discouraging. Understand that you are not alone in feeling discouraged. Check out our ‘Science of the Job Search‘ blog series authored by TalentWorks Founder/CEO Kushal Chakrabarti for data-driven tips and tricks to navigating your next job.

Let us help you navigate! For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

Stagnant Wages and How to Negotiate from the Start

Picture this: You just received a job offer after months of searching. It’s now time to discuss salary. The initial offer is tempting, in fact, it’s 10% higher than what the recruiter offered during the preliminary screening. You take it. Months later your landlord hikes your rent. What was to be meaningful financial progress did not get you ahead at all.

That’s the reality many workers are facing. A recent Pew Research Study suggests that today’s wages have the same purchasing power as they did in 1974, especially for lower wage workers. Despite low unemployment and higher paychecks (adjusted for inflation) we’re just not financially progressing.

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It certainly seems bleak but you have control regarding your income. What can you do as a jobseeker to ensure your personal financial progression? 

“That’s a good place to start”

If you’re being lowballed in a salary negotiation, don’t be afraid to literally say “That’s a good place to start”. Hiring managers have wiggle-room and expect to use it if you plead your case. This initial offer does not anchor you to a set amount, so understand what the responsibilities are worth and where you need to be financially to re-anchor, so-to-speak.

Understand your buying power.

What do you need financially and what can you do about it? Firstly, understand your regional labor market. Wages vary depending on where you live; do your research before you go into negotiation. It stands that you should be making a reasonable salary per your city. An administrative assistant in the Bay Area should make more than one working in Cincinnati.

At Talent Works we’ve found that going back to school or earning additional accreditations actually improves your professional acumen by +21.9%. If going back to school isn’t possible, check-out what skills/online courses you can take to give you the edge over competition.

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Negotiation makes a difference. Need help? We’re the Jiminy Cricket to your job search.

For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

Will Robots Take Your Job? Sort of.

At TalentWorks there’s no secret that we’re big fans of AI and automation, in fact, “automating your search” is at the core of what we do. We promise advanced resume optimization that is guaranteed to improve your chances as a jobseeker and increase your hireability by 5.8x.

With automation comes an inevitable disruption of the workforce, and that’s understandably scary. The McKinsey Global institute’s new research suggests that by the year 2030 approx. 15% of the global workforce could be displaced…BUT, the jobs created from this shift will make up for those lost. In the past, large-scale sector employment declines have been countered by the expansion of other sectors that have absorbed workers. (This chart shows the total employment by sector in the US 1850-2015, courtesy of McKinsey Global institute).

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So in a time of automation, how is the workforce transitioning in the near future and should we be afraid?

Robot + Human

Jobs susceptible to automation include processors and assemblers and are anticipated to drop by 25,000 (word processors) and 45,200 respectively by 2026.

The thing is, the same factory that eliminates human jobs still requires a convergence of both robot and human intelligence. Sure a robot can assemble faster than any human could, but the domain of expertise lies within the human worker who has valuable knowledge and has been on the assembly floor for 10+ years.

Automation in your workplace

The same McKinsey Global institute study found that even a CEO’s job can be automated (25% of it to be exact). An implementation of AI means the time they spent analyzing reports can be better used to manage people.

So how will embracing workplace automation in the near future help, you, the employee? 

  • The elimination or reduction in human error
  • Higher productivity
  • Convenience

Repetitive tasks that would otherwise take a toll on employee satisfaction would be completed much more efficiently freeing you up to focus on the more creative side of your job. Live chat widgets, grocery store self-checkouts, and marketing data platforms are just a few examples of automation that exists in the workplace today.

Working with automation and AI harmoniously means setting yourself up for success. In a world where workforce dynamics are ever evolving, being adaptable is key.

For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

 

Opportunity In Chaos: The Many Ways That Tragedies Lead To Jobs

Anyone who loves the news might have found themselves a little green in the last year. Mad World syndrome has been up and running since babies in wells were 24-hour-news but even knowing thatm trying to take an objective view of the big stories of the last year is tough. It just seems like more and more bad things happen more and more often. But our numbers have shown us a bit of a silver lining (even if it is a bit macabre).

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We’re just going to come right out and say it. It sure seems like tragedy creates job opportunities. While no one wants the devastation that comes with a natural disaster or a nationwide crisis, the bad old days immediately following a breakdown of order and normalcy can be a big boon for job seekers.

For example, let’s take a look at Parkland. The surge in personal gun purchases following any national tragedy where people are killed by high-powered weaponry is a well-documented phenomenon at this point. But this time around we also found that Americans were hiring more people to hold guns for them.

In the month following the Parkland shooting, as the discussion around guns in the U.S. soured and actual reform pushes started to seem possible,  hiring for gun-related jobs surged +79%.
And all that hiring was doing a number on the overall gun numbers in the U.S. In spite of the teen-led movement to make sure that fewer people could get their hands on weapons, the hiring surge for gun-wielders inched up the overall amount of weaponry in the country.  89% of gun-related hiring in the 2 months following Parkland increased the number of guns circulating.
The numbers might look a little disheartening for anyone looking to reform gun laws in America and, on its face, it definitely looks bad. For every worker hired to work on new gun reform campaigns immediately following Parkland, 9 others were hired that increased access to guns. But these numbers can be misleading. The 5 biggest anti-gun employers hired just 32% of people promoting gun control, meaning that a significant amount of the push around gun control is coming from unpaid sources: passionate protesters, people affected by gun violence and folks who can’t help but share the way they feel about the state of their country.

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This pattern of job surges holds true for different types of tragedy. For example, in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey devastating Texas, many jobs were lost the month of the storm. But 261,000 jobs were added in the following month, more than balancing the lost positions as the recovery process got under way.  Several sectors and industries saw huge increases in hiring in the wake of the catastrophic storm that left significant chunks of Houston underwater.

In coastal Texas, for instance, demand for project managers surged by +179%, nurses and counselors by +140%, and architects by +114%.  And that growth held for quite a while (disaster recovery is a painfully slow process).

So, even in the wake of the worst events imaginable, people who are in the market might be able to see some benefit from dark days.

Of course, you can’t (and shouldn’t) be waiting around for the next news story to break. If you need a job ASAP, we can help! Check out our services. Our AI-driven job search tools increase hireability by 5.8x and start a $10 per month. Storm or no storm.

 

Why your Bachelor’s Degree isn’t worthless

Many job seekers rightly question whether their decision to attend college was a good investment. College today requires a great deal of time and money and the return on investment (ROI) isn’t always clear–especially when you’re simultaneously seeking work and paying Sallie Mae. Certainly there are different ways to evaluate the worth of your degree (some majors are considered to be more “valuable,” the name recognition of certain universities over others, how you decided to finance it, etc.) but the value of higher education in the job market today versus not having a college degree at all is clear.

It’s the new standard.

According to the US Census Bureau, over a third of American adults are graduating with Bachelors degrees, an 18% rise from just a decade ago. (It was only 4.6% in 1940!) Due to the oversaturation of the baccalaureate, it is now seen as the minimal credential necessary to attain an entry-level job. “Degree inflation” is commonplace across industries from administration to dental lab techs. Where the high school diploma was once suitable, the BA represents a basic point of entry into the workforce.

You still need the competitive edge.

Although a bachelor’s degree is viewed with less “prestige” than years past, not having one is a red flag for recruiters and hiring managers screening candidates. For one, a college degree acts as a litmus test for dedication and a certain commitment to one’s future; if you’ve pursued higher education there’s a certain cache you hold over a candidate without a degree. Secondly, many entry-level positions require a basic understanding of technical skills that in many ways are assumed with a college degree in 2018. In this respect, college grads are seen as more capable than non-grads.

You’ll earn more money.

On average, college graduates earn $1 million more over their lifetime than high school grads. Millennials with only a high school diploma earn 62% of what college grads earn. If you’re in the job market with only a high school education, you may be forfeiting a great deal of your earning potential.

Also, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates for people holding only a high school diploma are double that of those with a BA. Yikes.

It’s a buyer’s market.

Oversaturated markets and technological advancements in the workplace allow the buyer (aka the hiring manager) to set the price, so-to-speak. LinkedIN ssThe new standard for obtaining a “good,” middle-class job starts with the minimum ticket for entry and hiring managers recognize this trend in the labor force. Their ultimate goal is to secure the best candidate for the lowest price, and given this new standard, there is rising competition among education groups for the same positions (i.e.: Masters degree-holders in the same job pool as BA-degree-holders).

In addition to job hunters with MAs competing for positions that traditionally only require the 4-year degree, employers across industries are pushing education requirements towards even higher degrees.

Conclusion

In an ideal world hiring managers would focus on the whole person and the different experience each candidate offers when looking for top talent. Unfortunately, lack of time and resources precludes many employers from being so open-minded and certain standards are set to whittle down applicant pools. The undergraduate degree in 2018 is the basic investment towards a path to middle-class job opportunities; whether this is “fair” relies on new standards for opportunity being set.

If you’re currently in the job market and resenting your college degree as you tread through the endless slough of online applications, TalentWorks can help. In addition to optimizing your resume and matching you to jobs (that actually interest you) we have 24/7 mentorship with experienced hiring managers.

For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).