Why It’s Taking So Long to Find a Job

This post originally appeared on the SkillStorm blog: www.skillstorm.com/blog

If you’ve been feeling like it’s taking longer for companies to hire, you’re not imagining it. In a labor market where there are more applicants than positions, a new trend is emerging – companies waiting to hire the ‘perfect’ new hire at the perfect salary. It can make even highly-qualified candidates feel like they, as my grandmother used to tell me when I wanted something that was not within my budget, “have champagne taste on a beer budget”.

It’s Not Me, It’s Definitely You
What may be contributing to this hiring fantasy is the sheer volume of applications an HR department receives for every opening it has. In his new book, Why Good People Can't Get Jobs, Peter Cappelli, Wharton management professor and director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources, says one of the reasons good people can’t get hired; Technology has made applying for jobs online easier, which can flood companies with applications. But in many cases, it has also made it too hard, booting out job seekers who may not exactly fit the often vague and sprawling descriptions. One staffing company president described the process as "looking for a unicorn."

Another contributing factor according to the book: Managers pile all the credentials and expertise into the job description to minimize the risk that the candidate will fail, making it virtually impossible to find anyone who fits. Cappelli tells the story of an email he received from a single company that had received 25,000 applicants for a standard engineering position and reported not being able to find one qualified candidate.

Breaking Through the Rubble
Paraphrasing a real-estate agent friend, I find a parallel between the current housing market and current job market, “Every home buyer is a homecoming king or queen and every home seller is the person who wants to be the homecoming king or queen’s date. Guess who has the upper hand?

Now replace home buyer and seller with hiring manager and job applicant. Job openings seem to be sitting open longer as more and more employers search for the ‘perfect’ candidate. So while you may think you’re it, you’re going to need to break through the barriers that can keep you from being recognized as the perfect hire.

5 Tips to Help You Get Hired
1. Court randomness. One of the objectives to attending a chamber luncheon is to network. On this particular day I was not in the mood to mingle. I sat at a table with the first available seat I could find. During a very brief conversation, I learned that my table mate was starting a magazine and was looking for columnist. We scheduled a meeting for a few days later. And yes, I did get the job. But the lesson here is embrace getting out of your comfort zone so that you can recognize opportunity when it shows up.

2. Think like an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs see opportunities where others see problems, then look for a solution. In an effort to save the hospital money, it turned to their employee for ideas. This Midwest hospital approach problems from a win-win strategy that paid the employee with the cost saving idea a percentage of the first year savings. When looking for a job, research the company you’re interested in and see if you can find a solution to a problem they may not even know they had.

3. Pretend you are talking to an eight year old. There is competition everywhere. What separates you from your competition isn’t necessarily who has more experience or skill, but who can express their experience and skill better. I have seen applicants with years of experience, training, and education fail during an interview while a less experience, but better communicator, shines during the interview.

4. Look for opportunities off the beaten path. Often you won’t recognize opportunity until after you’ve met. By taking the time to listen to other peoples challenges, you open the door to becoming the subject matter expert with the solution they were looking for.

5. Work with a professional. It’s not that you shouldn’t submit your resume online; it’s that it shouldn’t be the only means for applying to a position. Working with a recruiter from Skillstormcan help open doors, and provide you access to key people.

Source: Peter Cappelli

Tune in every week for more blogs like this. Our blog topics include hiring trends (especially in IT), corporate culture and tech news, reviews and opinions.

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