Question

Here’s another article, this one from MarketWatch, about how The U.S. Jobs Market Is Scorching Hot. So why can’t I get interviews for a good job, much less a job offer? I’m pretty fresh out of school with desirable technical credentials and all I want is a good job at a good company. I’m not greedy about salary. If employers are so hot to trot and good people are so hard to find, why do they do 6 interviews on 6 different days then tell you it doesn’t seem you are really interested in their product line? Doesn’t the ability to learn quickly and work hard count? How long can a company leave a job vacant? I don’t know who’s measuring what, but the news about the hot job market is a load of crap. The job market stinks. Am I the only one that thinks so?

Nick’s Reply

hot job marketI’m inclined to agree with you. You’re not the only frustrated, befuddled job seeker. I get lots of mail like yours. People with solid credentials and experience — at entry and higher levels — are confused and angry.

What talent shortage?

Today there are around 11 million open jobs and 6 million people unemployed. There are far more open jobs than job seekers. Employers call this a talent shortage. “We can’t fill jobs!”

Here’s the rub. In 2016 I was hired to do a webinar for Kelly Worldwide. It was a conference of HR managers. Their #1 complaint? The talent shortage. But in 2016 around 20 million people were looking for jobs. There were around 5 million jobs open. I upbraided my HR audience for calling a 4:1 hiring advantage a “talent shortage.”

What’s changed? Nothing, really. The condition of the economy doesn’t matter. Employers keep making the same recruiting and hiring mistakes today as they did in 2016. They blame job seekers and they cry “talent shortage!” no matter how many people the Department of Labor says are looking for work!

Hot job market or HR failure?

Google’s former executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, said something back then that still applies today:

“Most companies hire for the position, not the person. So they look for a match on LinkedIn for all of the criteria. They have to have five years of this and 10 years of that — and that’s precisely the wrong way to go about hiring.” (Fortune, 9/4/14)

How could “talent shortage” explain two very different economies and job markets? I think Schmidt says it all. Employers own this problem. They don’t know how to recruit or hire, and they make the same mistakes in any kind of economy. The rest of us suffer for it.

But the question here is, does the job market really stink today?

Hot job market, or stinky load of crap?

I’m not an economist or an oracle. But I think members of this community have information, opinions and insights on today’s inscrutable job market. So this week I’m going to ask readers some questions. I hope the resulting comments will shed some light on what I agree is “a load of crap” about “the hot job market.”

Dear readers:

  1. Is the hot job market really a load of crap?
  2. Are you finding it easier or harder than “normal” (whatever that is!) to get a good job? Please indicate whether you’re just starting out like this reader, or unemployed, or want to make a job move to something better.
  3. What are the main obstacles and challenges that make your job search difficult today? Have they changed?
  4. What should employers do differently to recruit and fill jobs?

Is the reader who submitted this week’s question an anomaly, or is “the hot job market” an illusion? What do you think is going on and what should we do about it? I hope you’ll share your comments on the four questions. Thanks!

: :

78 Comments
  1. I’m making a transition back to a corporate career after being a teacher for several years. I’ve had some interviews, but I haven’t had an offer. I’ve been applying for a year. I have two masters degrees, too. No luck. I thought it might be my age because most of the people who interviewed me were half my age.

    I also noticed that after I’m interviewed, I don’t get a response, not even an email. This seems like quite a change in business etiquette, especially for a candidate who has made it to the interview stage. Thanks!

    • @MC: Nobody programmed the Applicant Tracking System to worry about you, about customer satisfaction or about the employer’s reputation in the professional community from which it needs to recruit. Who needs etiquette when “Scrub ’em up and get ’em ready!” is the protocol for bringing in the next tranche of applicants?

      The answer for the earnest job seeker is all over this website: Don’t climb aboard this Titanic. Find your next job by triangulating. https://www.asktheheadhunter.com/6290/skip-the-resume-triangulate-to-get-in-the-door

      I wish you the best.

  2. I have no great insights to impart but I do have a question.

    How much of the “talent shortage” is a deliberate ploy on the part of employers seeking justification for leveraging cheaper offshore labor?

    If such an employer has a paper trail showing job postings and interviews of supposedly unqualified candidates then that will enable their lawyers to deflect any legal trouble for staffing the way they intended all along.

    I’m just asking. ¯\_(?)_/¯

    • @Eric Q: I suspect a significant part. But I also suspect many employers that profit from cheap offshore labor don’t realize their recruiting practices sabotage their business prospects every day. We can’t give a lot of credit to the HR infrastructure that creates the staffing problems it then pretends to solve.

    • I think you’re spot on. The 1st layer of BS is intention to hire. It costs nothing to claim you plan to hire and talking about it sends a (they think) a PR message. “God we’re doing great! Look at our hiring needs!” And yet poor us, we can’t find anybody.
      So, sadly we need to go offshore where we know the talent is. Will they increase headcount? Nah. They reduce high priced headcount & replace it with likely, not headcount, but contractors which is an expense.

    • I watched a video a few years ago (looking for the link to that video, but haven’t found it yet) about this very thing – an HR-type person was at some seminar/conference basically explaining how to game the system by advertising for such-and-such positions, which resulted in tons of American applicants…who happened to be “not suitable” for the job, wouldn’t you know it…and hence the company could then cast a wider net which happened to include cheaper foreign labor who then could be hired using the H-1B visa system. They engaged in CYA because they had “attempted” to hire Americans first, but of course it was all a ruse to get the cheaper labor.

      The H1B visa system is rife with abuse and needs to go. Here’s one guy’s take: https://www.cringely.com/2015/06/15/the-h-1b-visa-program-is-a-scam/

  3. From my anecdotal experience I’d say load of crap. I am in a specialized area of cybersecurity and have experience at well known companies. I hear many companies complain that they can’t find talent like mine but they haven’t changed. I have no problems getting my foot in the door after applying online but it’s still the same old issues. You’d think I’d know better by now and follow Nick’s advice but somehow I was thinking it be different this time.

  4. I agree with MC’s comment on age. I have applied to job where I have a near perfect match for credentials yet I have barely been able to get to the interview stage. I think employers don’t want someone with 25+ years of experience as they may think that seasoned workers don’t have sufficient skills in the digital world.

    The interesting thing I’ve noticed is that a few companies that filled a job last year are again recruiting for the same job this year. I think it gets to lack of hiring for talent and fit vs. an algorithmic match for skills. It is also a good indication to stay away from those companies.

    • @Steve

      I don’t necessarily think it’s a perceived skills mismatch.

      There may be an assumption that employer can’t afford the person and that they are over qualified so they will leave quickly and all that nonsense. I believe I have lost out on jobs because of this. In all of those cases, the company never addressed this assumption with me.

      • When an employer states that I am too expensive for them my reply is that they are disclosing one of just two situations about their company. Either they are simply too cheap to pay an honest compensation, in which case I have absolutely zero interest in them. Or, they truly, actually do not have the money, in which case I explain, with recent examples, that that is exactly the reason they should hire me: that I am the person with the track record that demonstrates that I am the one who brings in the cash. And, by the way, my compensation package just doubled. 10% of the time they make the appropriate offer. I then have to think it over and get back to them. 80% of the time I ghost them because their attitude is just simple unacceptable.

    • The U.S. “job churn” appears to be real: According to a recent Grant Thornton study, 21% of Americans changed jobs within the past year, and of that group, 40% are already actively looking for another job. While this phenomenon could be attributed in part to wishy-washy workers themselves, I think it mostly points directly back to Nick’s observation that companies don’t know how to recruit or hire or retain, and that’s a constant, regardless of the state of the economy.

      • @Garp: I have never heard a legislator ask whether the “employment system” itself might be the problem. If anyone can supply an example, I’d welcome it!

        • @Nick: I haven’t heard a legislator ask this question either. I’m sure that it is easier for them to listen to those who bought them (lobbyists and big money donors) than the voters.

          I recently had an email from Senator Markey, asking me to select from a laundry list of issues I think are important for him to work on. I get a similar email from Senator Warren several times per year as well. Most of the time, all you can do is click the issues (or all of them) most important to you without any space for additional comments. Senator Markey’s recent email did provide a space for comments, and I did write about the fallacy of the “hot” job market as well as the so-called “talent shortage”. I’d like it even better if he (or someone on his staff) would look into it more than just listening to employers, who are still whining about not finding “good” workers/talent while playing the same old games.

          • @Marybeth: Feel free to send the good Senator a few links from ATH about the problem we’re always talking about. Wonder if he’s seen Peter Cappelli’s excellent little book, “Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs” — he’s a respected Wharton labor researcher who’s been saying the same things we say, and he’s got data to back it up!

            More than once, ATH users have been called to testify in job-scam litigation. It’s time we get called in to testify to Congress.

            • @Nick: Thanks–I’ll keep that in mind the next time I receive an email survey from my two senators.

              I’m still trying to get you on C-Span’s “Washington Journal” program. They, too, periodically put out requests to viewers and listeners to recommend topics and potential guest speakers.

    • @Steve: I think you’ve got it right. The underlying problem is that such employers treat employees (and hiring) as an expense (to be avoided) rather than as an investment (to be calculated and embraced). If you were so adept at hiring that every $100K salary you paid yielded $1M in new revenues or a similar reduction in costs, how much $$ would you allocate each year for investment in salaries?

      Related: Wharton’s Peter Cappelli notes that modern corporate accounting systems treat vacant jobs as a source of profit. Perhaps that explains all those unfilled jobs today. (I buy that before I’d buy the “explanation” that the American workforce is unskilled, unavailable, lazy, and doesn’t want to work — that is, that America has a “talent shortage.”)

      • Robert Reich, former labor secretary, has been giving a class on YouTube on wealth inequality and he had an interesting chart that showed 92% of shareholder wealth from 1952 to 1988 came from economic growth, but from 1989 to 2017 54% of it came from the transfer of wages and only 24% from economic growth (the rest in both cases from other). Says something about how the overall labor system is going.

        My wages were going up steadily my entire career until 2019, then dropped 33% (after going to zero for a year). Stagnating wages are the norm, meanwhile billionaires are born each week.

      • Call it “Strategic HR”. It’s a great excuse for doing nothing while looking busy.

      • Yes, and especially in larger organizations Finance both creates and is insulated from the costs of onboarding, IP and other knowledge bleed associated with employee attrition or the use of contractors, other attrition-related costs (burnout, etc), and costs that come with stupid hiring practices (paying below market, being inflexible with compensation package, hiring for a job rather than for a well-suited person, etc.) Same with magical thinking about technology and management consulting.

  5. I would say it’s many factors adding up to a bad applicant experience. First it’s Rampant ageism. Then and quite simply put the idiots in hr these days don’t want to pay for real experience. I think we can all notice this is the theme in most of these cases. The lack of real professionalism or attention in hr for any less then vp position is obvious.

    • It isn’t just HR. Hiring managers right up to the top do not want to hire really experienced people about 70% of the time. The old culture thingy. Maybe they don’t want the gray hair and the wrinkles and weight, or they don’t want to pay, but it’s rare that a tech or health tech company has anyone with the above. (And you can see where their senior mgmt, founders, and funders have been retouched on the ABOUT page!)

  6. Even with a hot job market, it is still a huge investment to hire someone. I have made 2 job changes during the pandemic – and they have both been excellent jobs. It so happens that I live in an area where there are a lot of people who do my kind of work. Instead of jobs, let’s talk about another hot market – cars.

    When I drive or walk by auto dealerships, I see plenty of cars on their lots, and yet people are asking, “Where are the cars? There is a car shortage!” They are, of course, looking for a particular kind of car. For example, I like driving an electric car (although I walk to work) – those are going to be hard to find right now! Many models are at higher prices. Where are the cars, you ask? There are plenty of them!

    Now apply that to an employer. The way you presented yourself may not be what they are looking for.

    Yes, age discrimination exists, but my company seems to go out of their way to not discriminate – the guy who sits in the cubicle next to me is 75. Another person who works for our company is 80. A headhunter I talked to some time ago said he recently placed someone who was in their 70’s.

    There may be plenty of jobs, but if you want one, you still need to prove you can do it.

    • @Kevin: My advice is to go kiss your employer on the cheek and thank them for running a sound business.

  7. I loathe the asynchronous interviews. They are nothing more than a way for an employer to prove they interviewed a cross section of candidates. They are a waste of time and supported by dubious analytic mumbo jumbo.

  8. It’s crap like this in HR and corporations nationwide that led me to decide to become a day trader. I’m not joking. If you don’t want a certified, experienced cybersecurity professional (or if you want a good one for the price of an entry level analyst) in a field where you’re CRYING about the thousands of unfilled positions… Well, you’re clueless, Corporate America. I’m now using my analysis skills to day trade. Hope nobody decides they want to attack your network and it goes undetected because you can’t make a hiring decision to save your life (and you know what they say about hope not being a strategy!).

  9. I think this is a systemic problem. Companies want just in time people. Companies say I can hire one person in America and pay the salary + benefits+ recruiter fee + taxes + unemployment taxes,etc. Or I can hire 2 or 3 part time contractors (in America or overseas) and pay them an hourly rate with no extra charges. The Companies do not want to factor in things like experience or training or time zones. This is the system which has turned people into low paying machines.

    • @Lucille: We discussed this very problem back in 2017: https://www.asktheheadhunter.com/10569/consulting-cluster-fck-economy

      It’s still a problem??? ;-)

      • I think it is more prevalent now. Just this year we wanted to hire one xperienced developer. We had trouble finding anyone inside of a short timeframe. So management said hire some overseas. We did. We pay 2 or 3 contactors overseas via a company and some people were assigned to us. We showed the the work months ago and I haven’t seen any significant code from them. We hired some cheap, inexperienced people just in time. And though the company gets what it pays for, the company doesn’t want to learn that just in time developers don’t write that much software.

    • The right contractor can also be the right person, but you still have to pay and not mickey mouse the job. It needs to be clearly defined and with project deliverables. Not everyone wants reports or corporate politics, which is why for me FTE is no longer attractive. Know what your job is and then get the right person at the right pay and don’t lie to them. Oh yes, and if you pay for 40 hours, don’t create a job that demands 10 to 20 hours of unpaid work just to keep up.

  10. HR departments are lying about “the job shortage” to keep their jobs and are ineffective at finding qualified candidates (and they know it). The departments should not be charged with conducting the hiring process – everywhere, plain and simple.

    HR only complicates and confuses the hiring process. Just think about it – a low level manager wants to hire a new person, lacking proper training they write up a poorly worded position description, forwards it to their boss who makes it sound better and sends it to his company HR representative, the HR representative makes certain it complies with company policy, forwards it to their boss for approval, and it finally gets published (in the “standard” places; e.g., LinkedIn).

    What did the lower-level manager want – a turnip. What did the job announcement say the company wanted – a watch.

    “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
    If turnips were watches, I’d wear one by my side.
    If “ifs” and “ands” were pots and pans,
    There’d be no work for tinkers’ hands.”

    James Kelly’s Scottish Proverbs, Collected and Arranged in 1721 and prior citations

    Managers should do their own hiring. HR departments should be limited to providing an independent view of job candidates against the attributes a candidate must display to be good fit in the company, interpretation of company HR policies and teaching managers how to hire qualified staff.

    This is what we do here and have no problems finding multiple, highly qualified candidates at reasonable (i.e., market) payrates.

    • @David: Kudos to you and your (I suspect successful) company. For other employers, I offer this:

      You mean the recruiter isn’t the hiring manager?
      https://www.asktheheadhunter.com/15016/recruiter-isnt-hiring-manager

      • Nick, after spending three torturous years looking for work in my field, I was finally hired last month!! The big difference was I was interviewed by the manager whom I report to!!! The process took two weeks. Instead of the poorly handled, canned questions I received during interviews. Or being ghosted, only to see the job posted over, and over!! I did not meet HR until my first day on the job. I’m still shocked.

        We’ve all be accustomed to being treated badly during the interviewing process. If I hear about talent shortages again, I will scream.

        • @SAG: My compliments and good wishes. Once a job seeker finds respect and a manager who’s serious about hiring, they can never go back to the ATS and job-board roulette wheel that pays off only in wasted time. Please remember this experience next time you look for a new job, which I hope is not for a long time!

  11. My observation is that many companies are stuck in an obsolete recruiting and hiring paradigm. Worse yet, it has become codified in their business practices. This includes excessive filtering of resumes, often outsourced to people who do not understand the needs of the organization, and rigid or overconstrained job definitions. This and other superfluous requirements further limit the number of eligible candidates down to near zero and then wonder why critical jobs go unfilled for weeks or months.
    I strongly believe that hiring the best people is the most important part of leadership. This means adapting to ever-changing markets, including the labor market.

  12. Good timing on this post. I work at a government-funded job search center that is open to the public at no cost. Each week I pull jobs from the state-run job board to be posted on a billboard in our resource rooms for greater visibility. There are usually around 3000 listings for the region we serve. Yesterday I was asked by one of my coworkers how frequently employers updated their job listings because so many of our customers were applying for jobs on the board but not receiving call-backs for interviews. Facepalm.

  13. I think the “hot job market” depends on what field you’re in and even what specialty you’re in within that field. For example, I work in finance, specifically corporate financial planning & analysis (FP&A) – within finance, the job market is hot for accountants, but not for FP&A professionals. I think there has also been too much disruption/new bottleneck created by the new availability of remote work – sure, that may open the door for you for some remote jobs in other locations, but it also opens the door for candidates across the country to possibly compete for the same job for which you’re applying. I also agree that bad behavior is practically the norm now with internal & external recruiters in regards to ghosting/not following up with candidates.

  14. Can’t resist commenting: On a wider scope, I sense a Collusion in distributing misinformation via the Propaganda machine. This intention is insidiously manipulative in creating false hope for all job seekers.

    From my perspective, HR recruiters blindly follow their agency’s propagated training and their client’s unrealistic expectations and prejudicial biases expressed behind closed doors. This includes the intense headline of Diversity and Inclusion. (Take a look at the company’s website of their Board of Directors & C-Suite).

    In reality, there exists many underemployed, perceived unemployable, and the recent unemployed thru layoffs or end-of-contract timelines. As we already noticed, nationwide and the world are on the cusp of a worldwide recession, compounded by the Ukraine-Russia invasion and more drama to come. Job seekers are being programmed into despair, depend on credit cards and take any job to maintain basic sustenance.

    Discern the lie from reality. Your sense of well-being is first and foremost; keep mindful of your mental health, heed and listen to your gut.

    • @Bernadette: Thank you for the comment about mental health.

      It’s all too easy for job seekers to fall victim to the phenomenon known as “learned helplessness.” For many years, I suspected that my lack of success in job hunting had something to do with my own perceived failings. Thanks to folks like Nick Corcodilos, Liz Ryan and others, I eventually realized that there’s nothing wrong with me personally, but rather that the system is perpetually broken. I was eventually able to embrace the mindset that only I was in charge of my career, that I was the one interviewing prospective employers, and that few of them would ever measure up to my standards.

      Job hunting is tough, whether one is a new entrant to the market or an experienced veteran. While I respect the adage of “any port in a storm,” I personally avoid the ones that reek of raw sewage.

  15. Based on my experience, I think that the “Talent Shortage” is a load of crap. Companies don’t know how to hire. Let me be more specific . . .

    I’m a Data Scientist, which now is supposed to be all the rage. I have an undergrad in Chemistry and a technical MBA. I have a strong LinkedIn presence and a personal website, with multiple examples of my work. I’ve done analytics and actual science for several well know multinational corporations, but have great difficulty to even get an interview.

    I get the “overqualified” response or, more often, “not the right kind of experience”. The interviewer is usually a screener who has no idea of what the job entails. Need at least 10 years of SQL experience and you only have two. Took two Tableau courses and have have a Tableau Public page with four examples. Don’t have production experience.

    You get the idea.

    • @Stan: “The interviewer is usually a screener who has no idea of what the job entails.”

      Here’s how I put it to CEOs and members of boards of directors: Do you assign a shipping clerk to select potential customers and then send the clerk to sell to them?

      Do you send a payroll clerk to present your company’s financial report at your shareholders’ meeting?

      Why do you ask an HR clerk to screen data scientists?

    • But there are plenty of data science courses out there willing to take your money!

      I’ve taken a few related college courses. The teachers and professors told me I really didn’t need tons of courses, just the working knowledge and portfolio like you have. But, then reality hits and you run into what you’re facing.

      • You’re right about that. I’ve taken a couple of those courses. The typical response from recruiters is that “you haven’t used it in production”.

        Another point is that most of the professors and independent educators are fixated on open source software. They don’t want to hear about SAS, Matlab, JMP, Tableau, Minitab, or Power BI. These are all in wide commercial use. (Not to mention the ETL software.)

        My solution was to form an LLC and go after contract business. Not a solution for everyone, for a variety of reasons. (I’m semi-retired so have at least some income.) Give me six or eight months and I’ll let you know how it worked out.

        • I’ve only used Python or SAS besides some open source stuff.

        • Very interesting to consider where the requirement of “10 years of SQL” even came from. (As just an example.)

          What is the objective of this requirement?
          What outcomes or results is the company looking for?

          Nick (and others, including the turnip fable) posted above about poorly written job descriptions. This is a great example of screening gone wrong.

          And someone who has primarily focused on SQL for the last 10 years may not be at all proficient in meeting the demands of the role they are trying to fill. (Just cause that’s what the last guy had.)

          • Yes… “We’re really not thinking about your potential, only whether you can be a drop-in replacement for Joe and he did SQL for 10 years.”

            I fairly convinced that’s where a lot of the requirements come from in the job adverts that make me say to myself “You gotta be kidding”.

            • I actually am one who has way over 10 years of SQL experience. Probably over 30. I used it starting with COBOL back when you did a “fetch” for each result row – DB2 (IBM). LOL. Now I use BigQuery (Google).

            • Agreed 100%.

              And to pile onto what everyone is already saying, the best coder in the world might not be good at – or interested in – leading a team, acting as project manager, or implementing a new technology.

    • Stan. Here is a question for you what does production mean?

  16. Nothing has changed; the system is, has been, truly broken.
    Back in late summer of 2009 there was a similar article on NPR Marketplace where I replied and was later quoted on air:
    “I have heard of “what business needs in a rapidly changing economy is critical thinking skills” on multiple occasions over the past number of years. This makes me incredulous. I have an engineering degree and have changed career paths three times, continued education plus have a proven record of creative and utilitarian problem solving. I have looked nationally for new opportunities and yet over nearly the past decade I have been without a paycheck over 45% of the time.

    Perhaps what businesses say they need and really want are not the same thing.”

    As I could not find anything related to my education and experience, since 2013 I’ve been in retail just to have positive cash flow.

    • Agree and Validate your statement, Eric: Nothing has changed; the system is, has been, truly broken.

      Planting a seed for Remembrance that other systems in place are broken too, such as healthcare, supply chains, and much more. It’s now April 2022, and the system’s insidious fear-mongering, red herring continues to mislead or distract everyone from self-sustainability.

      Be kind to yourself, Eric. Listen to your heart and follow your gut instincts.

    • I have a partially similar experience. It boils down to “being ahead of my time,” at the places I have applied. I attempted to preach operations research in 1969 and was told, “operations research has not proven itself yet.” Heavens above! What an ignorant response. (Ignorant = does not know, has no knowledge.) You have to ferret out employers who do know, who have some intelligent and educated higher up managers. Contact them. Don’t waste your time, as I have, with the lower-level idiots. I know, this takes a lot of time, but actually no more time than I wasted with the ignorant.

  17. Post-Script on age: I just got some breakfast from the company cafeteria this morning – and ran into my coworker from the other side of my cubical wall. He told me he is goi my to be 76 this fall and is planning to work at least another 4 or 5 years.

  18. I agree. There is no talent shortage.

    I work in Cyber Security and have a combination of rare skills and more than 30 years experience. Within an hour of a senior role being posted 117 candidates applied. Give me a break. First, majority of those people are dreamers or suffer self-delusion. Still even if there are 3 – 5 good candidates in that group I’ll be very surprised

    The recruitment process is completely flawed. I liked Eric Schmidt’s quote. Both the role and the candidate will evolve and change in-line with market demand and technological progress. Candidates are categorized at a specific point in time against a job description that is almost always an inaccurate representation of the role in reality. Then lots of energy is wasted mapping candidates to the role spec at that fixed point in time.

    The most valuable exercise is to understand where candidate has come from, what they can do for you specifically – how they will add value, and where they want to go in the future. Not forgetting to consider how the role will most definitely change over time.

    There is a lot of stupidity out there such as “we want someone who has done exactly what we think we want – before. Really? Most candidates are looking for growth and opportunity to learn, achieve and succeed. Organizations should be looking for candidates to demonstrate they can think, innovate, create, and deliver new solutions. Elon Musk’s “Show me” method is powerful.

    I’ll stop here. But there is so much more to say.

    • @Sorin:““we want someone who has done exactly what we think we want – before.”

      I think you forgot “…and for less pay.”

      The answer to this predicament is for the job candidate to politely, firmly, deftly shift the job interview into territory few hiring managers ever walk in. And you’ve nailed it. Show the manager how you’ll do the job profitably.

      I believe we’re all so brainwashed to accept the silly interview protocols that leave both employer and job seeker high and dry, that it never occurs to us to take control of the interview like that. Exhibit 1 in support of my brainwashing hypothesis: Although the discussion on this thread is excellent, there are virtually no questions or suggestions about how to overcome this employer-imposed obstacle.

      Thanks for getting us going on that. Here’s some more along those lines (lest I’m accused of bringing up a problem without offering a profitable solution or two):

      https://www.asktheheadhunter.com/7280/stand-out-how-to-be-the-profitable-hire

  19. I think there’s several reasons-
    First, companies get so big they can define the labor market and destroy it.
    Example- private security. One company buys up all the others in an area, so all the private guards have to work for that company. Then they drop wages so the jobs aren’t attractive. People hiring guards have no options-there’s only one company supplying guards. If a competitor comes in, it’s the JD Rockefeller 55 gallon drum solution all over again.

    Second, that exact situation means companies can make unrealistically high demands and offer unrealistically low pay.
    They want $40/hr worth of qualifications, and offer $20/hr pay.
    Then they’re unhappy they can’t get good candidates.

    Last, if they do hire a qualified person who’s desperate, they mistreat them so they’re instantly looking for a better position.

  20. Load of crap.
    It is the “recruiting process” that is broken. Recruiters are typically inexperienced, recent college grads who know nothing about working in a corporate environment, and even less about the work involved in the jobs they are trying to fill. I am contacted on a regular basis and these recruiters cannot answer even the most basic of questions. Their goal seems to be to harvest resumes. (So the keyword search bots can do the rest???)

    Why am I being screened by someone who has absolutely no idea what it is that I do? In addition, compensation has gone down. Someone in an unrelated department has decided that it is more important to get the candidates who are “on sale” than to get the candidates who are most qualified.

    The problem is most definitely the additional and ineffective layers which HR departments insert between candidates and hiring managers.

  21. I think it’s a load of crap.
    The old adage “bad employers hire bad employees” is a mantra I now live by. The employers who preach this “we can’t find workers” are the most egregious abusers of workers, and the most toxic work cultures out there. Add to this substandard wages, + a totally delusional and unrealistic set of qualifications and standards, and it stands to reason that workers, especially younger workers, have no stomach for, nor time for, this foolishness.

  22. Employers are also playing more and more the old bait and switch game. You apply for a listed job on Indeed, or maybe with a recruiter, and the employer tries interviewing you for a completely different low-level/low-wage position. Many embrace a cloak of secrecy and won’t even divulge the compensation (low$) range. I don’t know if many employers are ignorant, desperate, or just plain sleazy?

  23. The COVID19 pandemic forced many companies to go remote or disappear, and in doing so democratized much of the technology sector that was hyper-centralized geographically for no good reason. Now you don’t need to live in an impossible-to-pay area just to avoid the commute, you can work remotely start to end, from anywhere in the world. The market expanded: there’s more competition for the same positions but there’s also more positions available everywhere.

    Using Nick’s techniques (life-changing advice, really), and taking advantage of those trends, I was able to nab a job that nearly triples the compensation of my previous one. I also got friends to jump on the bandwagon and in turn change their lives.

    This paradigm shift is global. I encourage everyone to use this to their advantage and search for jobs intelligently. Value yourself, show your skill, dodge the bullets, and seize the opportunity.

    Technology jobs that can be done remotely are very hot now, all over the world. So at least for that job market, the hype is true. If you work in this field and haven’t had much luck, don’t despair; we know 90% of companies out there are stupid: don’t let those discourage you from working for the ones who know what they’re doing.

    • The computer jockey jobs may be able to be done remotely, and may command inflated wages, but that’s not sustainable long term. No way. That’s not real world.
      There’s still plenty of trades jobs, manufacturing jobs, construction jobs, laborer jobs, engineering jobs, and health care jobs to name a few that require one’s physical presence at a workplace and hands on work. While employers are capitulating to computer jockeys and such working remotely for now, and kowtowing to these hefty salaries, they won’t continue with this once things start shifting the other way like this last bloody recession we had.

      • Yes, jobs that need to be performed physically suffered from the pandemic instead of benefiting.
        That said, the upward trend of “computer jockey” salaries has been on the rise for years, this is the real world; there’s no reason to believe demand for them will change that much even long term. In fact, I’m going to quote the US Bureau of Labor Statistics here:
        https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm

        “Employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. These occupations are projected to add about 667,600 new jobs. Demand for these workers will stem from greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security.”

        That’s a pretty good long term outlook.

        • You can quote all the government statistics you want (trusting the government is a fool’s errand), but real world is like I just said, “computer jockeys” (and many non-essential jobs in this ilk) are not going to command these inflated wages, nor get concessions like remote work forever. That bubble will burst, and we’ll see more recessions where the employers will be king of the hill again. Some of these posters have indicated they’re seeing these so called high demand computer jockeys getting pimped and outsourced by foreigners.

        • @Pentalis: “Computer” jobs will go away like the automobile did, like the telephone, like electricity. There’s always someone who’s frustrated and needs to take it out on someone else. Physical jobs will always be with us and the best workers will get paid well to do them. This is not “either-or” but both. What’s happening with tech jobs is a win-win — people in the trades become all the more valuable because tech jobs proliferate.

          • Whoa … wait a sec … hold up here.

            Stop stereotyping IT.

            I’m 38 years IT NETWORKING (security, storage, convergence, wireless, VOIP, virtualization, MicroSoft, Linux UNIX, Cisco, Bay, 3Com, NorTel, Juniper, servers, routers, switches, LAN, WAN, systems, networks, datacenters, blah, blah, blah, every phase of IT c/r/@/p you can imagine), have travelled the world, have worked only for some of the largest name brand companies, etc. My job is all “hands-on”. I’ve run departments, built datacenters, c/r/@/p/p/d decisions out of my @/$/$ in emergencies all my career … all face-to-face. My IT job is always on-site, on my feet, firsthand, face-to-face. There are “computer jockeys” that can cube it behind screens from anywheres but there are bucho IT jobs that demand you be there, onsite, just like any other worker.

            Personally, I cannot stand 4 walls. I can remote any time I need, but if I had to work from home, I’d flibbity gibbet. Charlotte’s Web, anyone?

            The h/@/d/j/i/s love sitting on their @/$/$ coding. So be it. So do it.

            The American Boys have to be on the move. All the time. And they’re the ones that have truly built the world’s IT, from the beginning (sang Greg Lake).

            Make absolutely no mistake about that.

            What’s my reward for 38 years of this s/h/y/t?
            Unemployment, over ~16,000 résumés out, still no offer.

            But, but, hold yer breath.

            amazon wants to talk next week.

            Time to kick @/$/$ on a worldwide basis again.

  24. It’s not so much that it’s all conspiracy theories, as its simply unadulterated stupidity. On both sides.

    *Hiring companies’ needs*: are based on they have problems and issues that can’t be fixed or they don’t know how to solve. They also have access to money or willingness to invest for answers, or the willingness to finance what it would take to get the answers.

    *Candidate’s needs*: are based on that they have answers and solutions that can fix the very problems. But the candidates don’t have any money — even if they’re willing to negotiate compensation and terms.

    problems – vs. – solutions.

    The task is how to make the transaction happen where its *mutually* satisfactory. where both sides can come away successful. A win/win scenario. No one wants to compromise (probably because of ingrained tribalism), and everyone loses patience as well as manners and traditional business etiquette.

    The stupidity comes in when neither side learns from previous experience what works and doesn’t work in the hiring process, and rather than adjusting their positions in the negotiation, they resort to old ingrained methods and actions that have been proven not to work in filling the business needs or filling a need for employment. Nothing gets done, everyone gets annoyed, and everyone laments their position in the process. A solid relationship is built on shared mutual commitment, and respect. Without it, there’s no basis for doing any business with each other.

    Which is probably why everyone (both sides) are wandering around, picking up rocks to see if there’s anything underneath to eat….

    • @CCCrawford: I agree with you, but I think the problem (employer’s side) and the solution (worker/job seeker) have been artificially isolated from one another. Third parties intermediate recruiting and hiring without adding any value. In fact, these third parties have figured out how to make money by preventing employers and job seekers to get together — as you put it, for a win-win. Further in fact, these intermediators make MORE money when employers and job seekers DO NOT get together, and are instead encouraged to “keep looking!” for “the perfect fit!”

      It’s time to get away from this warped model.

  25. Sometimes … just sometimes … a company understands its actual needs and how to fix them.

    My wife tells me today that A Certain Big Box Retailer is paying truck drivers $90,000 – $100,000 a year for a job that last month paid by the mile driven, and netted about $45,000 or so if you were lucky.

    They need to spread some of that coffee they woke up and smelled to other industries.

    • @L.T.: Some learn. Some don’t.

    • Wal*Mart. Payin’ up to ~$110K for truck drivers.

      Sumpin’ ta t’ink ’bout.

  26. After reading all these comments, ideas, and postings; is there any data that shows companies are slowly changing for the better?

    • @Mike: Good question. It brings to mind another question that is never answered: What is the success rate of each job board? I don’t know one that reports it.

  27. People can espouse their BS all day everyday. Their money their show.
    If an I.T. guy may need to hire a plumber, mechanic, or electrician for their services, yeah skilled trades will proliferate, but not just because of computer jockeys. Because of everyone who needs their skills and services and will pay for them.
    The plumber, electrician, or mechanic needs to “perform” and “produce” quality work to retain customers, and if they fail, word of mouth and the market will make or break them.
    Not so for computer jockeys as their employers can’t figure out, or learn to figure out, what needs to be done, so they put them on a pedestal and capitulate to their whims and let them stay home and twiddle their thumbs. If that works, so be it, seems like a stupid business model.
    I’m seeing young folks out of I.T. programs in my area starting for $20-$25K, and some going for a year or more job hunting, so no “high tech” and the “service sector” aren’t the great savior that out of touch boomers preach.

    • A very long time ago a fellow Professor in C. S. told me received a phone call asking that he send over 5 or 6 programmers, as we were called then, to interview for 3 jobs. The employer’s question was, “Do you have some top-notch programmers who can do … thus and so). He replied but asked what was the starting salary? Reply: “$35,000.” My friend’s reply, “I don’t have any.” Employer: “You just said you have 5 or 6.” Professor, “Yes, I do, and more than those. But what I do not have is programmers willing to work for salaries that far below average!”

  28. It is a load of crap. I see lots of signs, hear and read the stories in the news about how there are so many more job vacancies than applicants, yet when do the research, reach out to the hiring manager (if I can find out who that is), I get crickets. That tells me that employers really are NOT interested in hiring. If they were as desperate as they claim to be, they’d hire someone who isn’t a perfect match for all 3,000 criteria and train him or her.

    Apparently they haven’t done a cost-benefit analysis of what it is costing them NOT to fill that job (and yes, there is a cost to that vacancy).

    Or they advertise one salary, but when you dig deeper, it is significantly less, or no benefits, or the job was advertised as full time, but you learn it is really part time, or there’s really no job at all. They’re just saying they want to hire for the hell of it, or to keep the PPP money they received from the government, or because they’re going to hold out for the perfect person to fall out of the sky and work for less.

    Nope, the system is so irretrievably broken that I think it would be better to scrap the “system” (or non-system) they’re not using and start over. Pretend it is 1975 (pre-computers everywhere, pre-ATSes, etc.). Talk to people. Be respectful. Be reasonable and don’t expect someone to have a Ph.D and be already trained to do a job that a high school graduate could do with a little training. And re-invest in training employees and providing opportunities for advancement.

  29. Locally I don’t think it’s BS as I walk around & see a lot of help wanted for small businesses. Who got hurt from the Covid shutdowns. But I think the big guys have an agenda. They’ve whined in the past about shortages to leverage legislation to get higher # of H1Bs approved, when your gut & 1st hand info told you the people are here, sometimes in their own companies.

    I think the letter writer did a service to once again raise the value of networking. As her hubby could learn to break away from flinging resumes into a black hole, and go find out if it’s BS company by company.

    I thought her “icky” comment was a bit disturbing in the sense that she was inferring but likely not that if someone came to them for help, they’d say “sorry I can’t do that, you need to get your job on your merit”

    So I jotted down some thoughts that i think someone starting out would benefit from. Sorry I tried not to write book, but it turned into an essay.

    Universities should take a page out of the military. When people leave the military they have access to training on transitioning to civilian life/employment.

    Grads should have access to one last course, on how to develop a career, and how to seek employment in a chosen field. Somewhat along the lines of “here’s what we taught you, now here’s how to deploy it”. Even better if they were exposed to sales and communications courses.

    They and the letter writer should understand that during their working life they will likely be making voluntary or involuntary career moves. Thus what they can learn from this will last them a lifetime. At the juncture in the writer & hubby’s working life they have a great opportunity to get some things right the first time. Some basics:

    1. Don’t look for jobs. Look for admirable companies that employ or may employ your profession. Keep on top of that profession as that’s the foundation of your value add. Finding the right combination of company & professional skills is your search focus for your career and a related professional network that you need to build to develop that career.

    2. It’s a big business world out there. Running around in it, tire kicking for jobs is very akin to trying to boil the Pacific with a cigarette lighter. You cannot focus, and job hunting is best done with a laser beam than a shot gun. To focus, you need to carve out a piece of that world you can manage, and thrive in. One in which you are known. It’s not only about “who you know” but also “who knows you”. And the premier tool to make this happen is networking.

    3. Networking is not rude, unworthy or unfair. It’s about business In this case the business of finding a good boss in a good company & starting & furthering one’s career. The same skills, interest, & knowhow you’d learn & use on the job, are the same ones you use to find the path to that job. From the hiring side, it’s also about finding, and bringing in a good new members

    4. Why is networking so highly recommended as a means to career navigation? Because, as Nick exemplified with the view of a hiring VP. Hiring is a risk. At it’s worse, think of it as path through unfamiliar territory. On one end is hiring manager and on the other the job hunter. Both are total strangers. Hiring a stranger is a risk to the manager, and taking a job with a stranger is a risk to the job hunter. As a risk reducer the manager offers the comfort of a company web site that informs you it’s a wonderful place to work. And the job hunter offers a piece of paper or bunch of digital bits that assure a stranger how great thou art.

    Networking reduces (not eliminates) the unknowns & risk, by introducing personal endorsements from trusted sources. As the VP said, he doesn’t want to hire a turkey, and if you’re hunting for a job you don’t want to end up working for one either.

    5. You want to be selected and ultimately hired based on your competencies? Of course we all do. But there’s a couple of catches. One is you have to be noticed. Otherwise it’s like the adage of a tree falling in the forest being heard. It’s important for the writer to understand that the problem with depending on your competencies to be noticed..its that you are very unlikely to be unique. Particularly for a grad with a degree in a common discipline. Anyone who’s been a recruiter or hiring manager sees not 1 or 2 similar resumes, but a LOT of them. The same is true for experienced people who do offer unique value adds, to the degree it appears the job description is describing themselves.. To find, that they aren’t the only who does.

    6. The second catch is you need to differentiate. Think like a sales person or being your own recruiter. A very important sales tenet is “differentiate or die”. Yes, IF you can get as far as an interview you have a shot at standing out from the competition on your professional bonafides. But..another way to differentiate is not technical. It is to be endorsed by a trusted source. And if you don’t want to work for a crappy manager in company that’s voted as the worst place to work, you can differentiate employment targets via a trusted source. Refer back to #4

    7. As to how you go about network building? 1st lose any idea it’s an unfair way to find your way to a career goal. It’s not unfair at all, anyone can do it. 2nd lose the idea its intrusive to your contacts. If you sense that, you’re talking to the wrong person or asking the wrong question.. It’s my experience that most people want to help. Especially if you help them help you e.g with specific info & or questions, & insights into your search plan, your goals targets, useful info etc. and once they understand that, then the help & related network building can begin. 3rd Networking swings both ways. You give and get. When you engage with one of your contacts, it’s implicit that you would do the same for them. 4th you protect & respect your network. You don’t fling names/contacts around without vetting the requester and clearing it with your contacts 5th If you ask for, & receive a contact lead, follow up. Don’t decide later you’re not interested or procrastinate & hang your contact out to dry, because they set expectations & when don’t follow through you put a dent in their credibility.

    8. Keep it going, following up, and returning the favors & before you know it, you’ve got a network. People you know & who knows you. None of this is icky. As noted it’s business. It’s not all about finding nice people, those people engage because they want to & also know, someday they may need help also…possibly from you.

    9. It’s not the way to find A job, it’s part of your professional life. Maintain it , keep in touch, extend it into your employers world & industry, and especially give what you got. Be there when a networking contact reaches out to you.

    10. As I opined, over one’s career you’ll be hunting jobs more than once. As you do, adopt the idea that you are not just looking for a job. You’re doing 2 things in tandem. Yes, looking for a job, but you’re also networking. If you manage your search accordingly, you may not get the job but you can always gain good contacts for your network from your search.

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