What does it mean to be ‘Underemployed’?

The National Unemployment rate is at a 17-year low according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, but this doesn’t paint the whole picture. Many employed workers have jobs that offer less than full-time hours or a job that doesn’t adequately meet the qualifications the employee possesses such as training and education.

This is referred to as “underemployment” and many people across a variety of demographics are affected. College grads, highly skilled foreign workers whose credentials don’t translate, trade workers, and the disabled are a few examples of the underemployed and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there isn’t yet a way to quantify its effect on the economy directly. So we don’t really know how many people, though employed, aren’t meeting their professional potential.

What do you do when you’re underworked and undervalued?

Tip 1: Apply for Jobs Within ±2 Years of Your Experience

Don’t be intimidated by the job description. If you’re within ±2 years of required experience, hiring managers will often consider you “close enough.” Be flexible and remember that you don’t necessarily have to fit the job post 100%.

Tip 2: Tough it out while you look elsewhere

We found that people who weren’t currently employed took a hit — they were 149% less hireable. Keep your current job regardless of your hours or the type of work while you look for something more fitting. Take advantage of having a position right now and look while you work.

Our data also shows that toughing it out for at least 18 months improves your hireability by 18%!

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Tip 3: Start Freelancing!

Regardless of why you’re underemployed, freelancing can help bring you to the next level. Not only does freelancing provide flexibility in hours and style of work but freelancing jobs and gigs provide the experience you many need to attain your ideal job. For example, if you’re working a part-time in a different industry, freelancing on the side keeps your foot in the door of where you want to be while maintaining your skills and community presence.

Are you currently working a less than ideal job or gig? 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).

Get A Job Fast By Automating Your Job Search

There are plenty of things about the job hunt that can catch an applicant flat-footed. Getting fired unexpectedly or suddenly being asked to navigate confusing benefits systems can rattle even the most hardened of workers. It’s disheartening and that’s before we even get to the truth of the matter: the job search requires you to be an expert in a skill you probably didn’t learn because you hoped to never use it.

While you were out specializing in your field and getting better at what you actually do to earn a living, the rules of the job search were solidifying. Now, recruiters expect you to be versed in their codes before they’ll even give you a call back.

It’s a lot to ask and it’s why we’re here. We know the search and how to cater your application to make sure that it ticks all the right boxes. We can use our troves of data and our AI to remove the hassle from your search and get you back into what you really know how to do.

Here’s just a few reasons why you should consider automating your job search.

Reduce Mistakes

Chances are, you probably don’t work in data entry. (If you do, we can help you, too!) But anyone who does knows that manually entering data only provides more opportunities for mistakes. Introducing the human element into any situation ups the odds of typos and blunders dramatically and that holds true for your application.

If we can optimize your resume and apply to the jobs you want on your behalf, we can eliminate the likelihood of prospect-killing mistakes.

Lean On Experts

We know the job search. We’ve been collecting data on the who, what, why, when and how of hiring for years, scanning millions of  want ads and figuring out what works and what doesn’t for recruiters. Unlike you, we have specialized in the field of getting people hired and we want to share our knowledge with as many people as possible.

Save Time

If you’re scrambling after losing a job (or just looking for something new outside of your already demanding schedule), time can be hard to come by. Trawling through countless job boards and reading untold amounts of postings to figure out which jobs are actually looking for someone like you is more than just a pain, it’s probably costing you money.

That’s time that could be better spent working on something you care about or taking the time to catch up with your family and friends. Let us automate your search to take the searching part out of your daily routine, only offering you the best jobs for your specific skillset.

The best part of all of this? It’s only $5-$10 a week and we guarantee that we’ll get you in the room with the people you need to talk to. Check it out and lose the hassle of self-searching.

 

Resume Tips from Hiring Managers: Pros Tell How To Get Noticed

The job search internet is rife with articles telling you all the many ways that you can get ahead in the job search process. Frequently, these are written by journalists and bloggers, the occupations that most readily come to mind when someone says the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none.” While it might be true that in the land of the unemployed and desperate, the semi-knowledgeable contract worker is king, we want you to live under a somewhat more justifiable monarchy.

That’s why we went straight to the source, pulling our job search tips directly from hiring managers — the true experts in this situation — to find out what advice they would give to people who most need it.

Don’t Lie

While it might be tempting to juice your resume a bit with half-truths, too frequently these become whole lies. Sell yourself as you actually are and avoid an awkward conversation at an interview that is wasting everyone’s time. As USA Today put it, “don’t end up embarrassed or out of your depth because you stretched the truth on your resume.”

Share Your Actual Weaknesses

Nothing irks a hiring manager more than asking for a weakness and getting an eye-rolling answer like “being a perfectionist.” Ask A Manager’s Allison Green says that “candidates who won’t come up with a realistic assessment…make me think they lack insight and self-awareness.”

Use Task/Result Speech

Write actively. List your accomplishments in a way that lets the hiring manager know exactly what you did and what the outcome was. Another tip: quantifiable data is amazing. If you have numbers that can demonstrate your impact, don’t hesitate to use them.

If You’re Overqualified, Address It

Don’t be afraid to mention that a job is below what you’ve typically done. Explain to the hiring manager why you’re willing to take on this role to avoid them thinking you might get bored.

Don’t Use An Objective (Unless It Helps)

Unless you belong to a specific subset of careers (writers, teachers and mission-driven jobs like non-profit work), ditch the objective. While there are plenty of hiring managers willing to tell you outright that they don’t help, we put hard data behind it and found that it greatly reduces your chances of landing a job. If you aren’t a recent grad,  a writer or entering a profession that will get you called “a saint” leave it off.

For even more do’s and don’ts check out our in-depth rundown of all the things to avoid in an application. And if you’re tired of digesting tips, just let us handle it.

For just $10, we can optimize your resume, bulking it up or cutting it down to its leanest, meanest possible self and sending it out to the exact people who want to hire you. And this isn’t some wishy-washy soft science service, we use a trove of data and our own AI to ensure that your resume is the best it can possibly be and is only going to the hiring managers who want to hear from you.

How Many Applications Do I Have To Send Out Before Getting A Job?

The job search can occasionally feel as effective as chucking a stack of resumes off of a seaside cliff. No doubt there’s more than one discouraged applicant out there feeling that they’re as likely to hear a response from a hiring manager as they would be to get a “do you mind?” from the ocean down below.

Job seekers can’t help but ask “how many applications does it take, on average, to land a job?” Unfortunately, we don’t have the hard science right now to give you a straight answer on that topic. But we can tell you why you’re having so much trouble. There are plenty of factors that are contributing to your applications disappearing into the void.

Our recent research found that only 13% of job applicants were given a job interview. And of those that managed to make it to the interview process, only a few people were offered a position. That puts your chances of landing the average job you apply for at less than 2%.

First, let us explain why most resumes end up in a black hole.

What Gives?

The average HR manager spends less than 7 seconds looking at the average resume. And they’re looking at your application with “no” on their minds, trying to find any reason to disqualify you. This is only after the hundreds of resumes have likely been picked over by a bot that scrapes resumes for appropriate keywords and chucks the ones it finds unsatisfactory.

The odds aren’t in your favor. But they aren’t in anyone’s favor, if we’re being honest. Does that help?

What To Do About It

We’re not here to help applicants wallow, we’re here to give them hope. After all, finding the right jobs for the right people is what we do. You need to bump up your application anyway that you can. Here’s a few quick ways that you can game the system to make sure that your resume lands in the lap of an HR manager and might even catch their eye.

 

 

Still not getting it?

We have your back. For just $10 a month, we can optimize your resume for you. We use AI to determine what it is that recruiters are looking for, scanning thousands of job openings and optimizing your resume to garner the biggest response. Then, we send that resume out for you to openings that match your particular skills. It’s a system that works, we guarantee it.

 

The Science of the Job Search, Part VI: Job Applicants With Resume Objectives Were ~30% Less Hireable

Today, we’re looking at the age-old question: Do you need an objective for your resume? Lots of folks say yes, lots of folks say no. We sampled 6,231 recent job applications, resumes and applicants across 681 cities and 115 roles and figured out the real-world answer for you.

tl;dr: Don’t put an objective on your resume (minus a few exceptions, see below). Not only are they unnecessary, but job applicants whose resume contained an objective were 29.6% less hireable than those who didn’t specify an explicit objective.

Objectives Hurt Everyone (Except Recent Grads)

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After 1+ year of experience, job applicants whose listed an objective were 20% to 67% less hireable (varying based on experience) than those who didn’t.

Controlling for experience, job applicants whose resume included an objective got 20.1% to 67.1% fewer job interviews compared to those who didn’t.

The only exception to this rule was for recent college graduates: for job applicants with <1 year of work experience, listing an explicit objective got ~7% more interviews. This isn’t a statistically significant gain, but it’s a significant contrast to everyone else.

Resume Tip: If you have less than ~8 months of experience, you might want to consider adding an objective. [+7% HIREABILITY BOOST]

Resume Tip: If you have 1+ years of experience, you should delete your objective. (See one more exception below.) Although it varies based on your specific experience, you’ll likely see a big hireability boost. [+20-67% HIREABILITY BOOST]

What’s Going On?

With the usual caveat that no one has any idea (anyone who claims otherwise is lying), I can give you my best theory as an experienced hiring manager. Here’s the short version: Most objectives are crap.

For example (anonymized to protect the innocent):

Focused and hard-working individual looking to develop new skills to serve the greater good.

Ambitious student working towards a B.S. in Epidemiology (pending graduation May, 2019).

To acquire, and maintain employment. To utilize the training and skills I’ve received in the past 5 years.

Like, really? As a hiring manager, I don’t really care if you want to “maintain employment.” (And honestly, this is a bit like saying your hamburger is 100% beef. If that’s the best compliment you can give yourself, you might have a bigger problem.)

What I do care is that you can do the job. Your objective gives me zero information about that and it’s something I have to wade past to get to the real stuff. But, if while wading past, I see something… well, it can definitely rule you out. For instance: spelling and grammar mistakes (rare), mismatch of interests (possible), a seed of doubt (common).

Here’s my theory: Most objectives convey zero information to hiring managers. At best, you can hope hiring managers will ignore it. At worst, it’ll give hiring managers an excuse to disqualify you.

This theory also explains why recent grads with objectives get slightly more interviews. Entry-level jobs get a deluge of applicants with no work history, and there’s basically no way to tell apart good applicants. If you can write a good objective (see below), you can squeeze out an edge over your competition.

Does Your Industry or Role Matter?

Controlling for role and industry, having an explicit objective still hurts (or doesn’t help) the overwhelming majority of job applicants.

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Listing an explicit objective doesn’t help for 106 out of 116 job roles — 91% of all roles out there.

It’s hard to make definitive claims about every specific role or industry (underwater welding, anyone?), but the overall trend is clear:

  • Only 2 out of 116 industries had statistically significant [*] higher hireability for applicants with an explicit objective. (Marketing Managers were statistically insignificant with a p-value of 0.902.)
  • There was a clear pattern for where it helped: they (a) were over-saturated, entry-level jobs where it was hard to distinguish good applicants, or (b) were in mission-driven fields where applicants’ motivations were especially important.

[* This of course doesn’t mean it only helps for 2 industries in reality, it just means that it either actually doesn’t help or the difference wasn’t big enough to be statistically detectable.]

Based on our holistic knowledge (we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people with their job search) and this analysis, here’s the full list of roles and industries where we believe an explicit objective might be helpful (even if there wasn’t a statistically significant difference):

RoleHireability Gain (%)P-valueWhy?
Budget Analysts121%0.187Hard to distinguish good applicants.
Credit Analysts144%0.456Hard to distinguish good applicants.
Financial Analysts105%0.410Hard to distinguish good applicants.
Counselors~500%-Mission-driven field.
Social Workers~500%-Mission-driven field.
Elementary Teachers~250%-Mission-driven field.
High School Teachers~250%-Mission-driven field.
Writers154%0.060Hard to distinguish good applicants.
Retail Salespeople50%-Hard to distinguish good applicants.
Customer Service Representatives62%-Hard to distinguish good applicants.

Which Kinds of Objectives Work In The Real World?

We took a look at the underlying resumes where objectives were correlated with increased hireability. Here are 3 objectives (details modified again to protect the innocent) from applicants who were 1+ standard deviation more hireable than their industry means:

Seeking a customer service position where I can utilize my multi-tasking abilities and attention to detail to assist in a fast-paced environment. Skills: real-world clerical experience, organizational skills, interpersonal skills.

Summa cum laude graduate with BS in communications studies, graduated May 2015. Proficient in Spanish.

Experienced with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux OSes; popular social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram); OpenTable, AldeloPRO, and NoWait restaurant management software

And here again are the 3 mediocre, low-hireability ones from above (these were all 1+ standard deviation below their industry hireability means):

Focused and hard-working individual looking to develop new skills to serve the greater good.

Ambitious student working towards a B.S. in Epidemiology (pending graduation May, 2019).

To acquire, and maintain employment. To utilize the training and skills I’ve received in the past 5 years.

What do you see? Here’s what I see in the low-hireability objectives:

  • They were generic and basically conveyed zero information to a hiring manager.
  • They spoke to the applicants’ wants & desires (not the hiring managers’ wants & desires).
  • Worse, they sometimes contained spelling or grammar mistakes. (Strictly speaking, the above weren’t grammatically incorrect, but two had awkward punctuation.)

On the other hand, the increased-hireability objectives all name-drop specific qualifications. In fact, they’re almost not even real objectives! They’re objective sections acting as a trojan horse to casually name-drop qualifications in the first few words of the resume. That’s brilliant!

In other words, good objectives weren’t actually objectives at all: rather than summarizing their own personal objectives, well-crafted objective statements gave their audience (hiring managers) what they wanted instead.

Resume Tip: If you have to include an objective, don’t talk about your own wants and desires. Instead, use it to casually name-drop a few of your skills that might appeal to hiring managers (in over-saturated fields) or summarize your motivation (in mission-driven fields).

What Can You Do?

We understand sorting through all the conflicting job search advice (and, hell, even the sheer amount of advice) can be overwhelming. That’s why we try to boil everything down to specific, actionable tips for your resume and back up everything we can with real-world data and concrete examples [*].

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On average, job applicants whose resume included an explicit objective or professional summary were ~30% less hireable than those who didn’t.

Resume Tip: Barring a few exceptions (less than 8 months of work experience, the list of industries above), you should delete your objective ASAP. [+30% HIREABILITY BOOST]

[* If they’re mining your data to sell you crap you don’t need, why not mine their data to help you get a job instead? That’s what we think at least.]

Even so, in just this post itself, we suggested 4 new resume tips. In total, across our six The Science of the Job Search posts this year, we’ve suggested a total 39+ real-world resume & job search tips. (I stopped counting after awhile.) They’re all highly actionable, data-driven tips but honestly, it’s just hard to keep track of it all after awhile.

If you’re looking for a job, you might be interested in signing up for TalentWorks. Among other things:

  • Our AI-driven ApplicationAssistant automatically pre-fills personalized cover letters for you from a template so you don’t have to worry about writing nice things for each of the 100+ job applications you’ll have to submit.
  • Our ResumeOptimizer will instantly scan your resume for all of 39+ tips we’ve written about to date, including optimizing your objective section.

For most things job search, we can just take care of it for you. And if not, one our wonderful TalentAdvocates can help you.


Methodology

First, we took a random sample of 6,231 recent job applications, applicants and outcomes across 681 cities and 116 roles and industries from recent activity on TalentWorks.

For each resume and job, we respectively calculated the MAP global parse tree using a custom, dynamic-vocabulary PCFG (our ResumeParser) and extracted the objective subtree if present and extracted the MAP job role along with 10 other bits of metadata from our index of ~91 million job postings. Finally, we independently regressed hireability for each sub-population with a blended constant-Matern kernel using a Gaussian process.

We did all of the analysis with in-house algorithms and sklearn/scipy in python. All plots were generated with Bokeh in python.

Why Are We Doing This?

With ApplicationAssistant right now, we can boost the average job-seeker’s hireability by ~5.8x. But, what makes ApplicationAssistant work has been an internal company secret until now. We’re fundamentally a mission-driven company and we believe we can help more people by sharing our learnings. So, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Creative Commons

We’re not only sharing this but also sharing all of it under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. In other words, as long as you follow a few license terms, this means you can:

  • Share: Copy, redistribute the material in any medium or format.
  • Adapt: Remix, transform, and build upon the material.