If you’ve looked for employment recently, I imagine you’ve found how challenging it has become. What with the introduction of Applicant Tracking Software (ATS), online applications, the trend of more organizations hiring through Recruiters and Temporary agencies exclusively; it’s just much more involved than it ever used to be.
Gone are the days where a labourer could show up at a job site and offer to work for a day and show what he could do. Gone are the days where you could walk into a place with a Help Wanted sign in the window and after a short talk be hired on the spot.
I’m not saying these are necessarily good or bad changes in the way people got hired, but things have definitely changed. Construction companies can’t hire those that just walk onto a site for insurance reasons, and most stores with help wanted signs in the windows will refuse to take resumes in person; most often directing potential applicants to leave and apply online.
Now the other situation the average job seeker has to deal with is an issue of volume. There’s a lot of people at the moment out of work and there’s a sizeable number of people holding down a job at present who are hungry for a new one. Add the two together and you’ve got a highly competitive job market. Oh and to add to the numbers, people who would normally be made to retire at 65 are now able (in Canada at any rate) to work well beyond that threshold with no mandatory retirement age.
Now of course much depends on the factors affecting your personal job search. Some include: the sector you’re trying to find a job in, the region or area in which you live, your mobility, your education and how dated it is, experience, attitude, your networking skills, use of social media, physical health and of course your job search skills. These are some of the factors but definitely not all of them.
As I’ve said many times before, job searching takes stamina. It is likely you’ll be passed over in favour of other applicants several times in your quest for employment, until you are ultimately successful. Mentally preparing yourself to be ready for this experience is good advice; but yes, even then, anyone can feel the pain of rejection.
One of the biggest frustrations for many is the lack of feedback they receive. In applying for a job you may not even get contacted whatsoever, or you may get an interview and no further; no second interview, no job offer and worse I suppose, no further contact. What went wrong? How can you be expected to note a problem and improve without feedback? You invested in the application and the interview, haven’t you got a right to the courtesy of contact and yes, some feedback on how to improve your odds at getting a better result next time?
In other situations we find ourselves in where there’s a test or an evaluation process we count on that feedback. The Driving Test Instructor will tell us why we failed to get our licence, teachers will point out which questions on a test we got wrong. Professors will illustrate where our essays were lacking, a Real Estate Agent will point out what we might do to improve our odds of marketing our homes. In these and other situations, we get valuable information from those who rate our efforts so we can take that information and use it however we see fit.
The job interview though, well, not so much. There was a time when organizations did give feedback. However these days, there are far more applicants for every job advertised. There’s no way they will take the time and money to offer each person personalized feedback. Nor by the way, do they want to expose themselves to potential problems by having that well-intended feedback come back on them in some form of legal action – and yes, some rejected job applicants have taken this route and sued over the feedback they did get in the past.
So, expect that you’ll have many jobs to apply to before you achieve the desired results you want, and don’t expect to get the feedback you’d appreciate along the way. This job search therefore, will need discipline and stamina. It’s going to be tempting to pack it in, get beyond frustrated and annoyed to the point where you become bitter and disillusioned. Well, you can quit and make it easier for your competition or you can stick with it and work harder.
I would strongly suggest however that if you are in this situation, you do one key thing for yourself; pay a professional to check your current job search skills and most importantly give you advice and suggestions on how to best market yourself both in the application and interview phases.
I know, it’s tough advice to hear – paying someone to help you when you’re already out of work and lacking an income. However, if you get the valuable feedback you’re not getting from the organizations who hire, your new awareness will allow you to change your approach and this could shorten the length of time you’re out of work considerably. So do at least consider the option.
A sincere wish for success in your personal job search, whatever you choose to do.