Why Is It So Hard to Find a Job Right Now?



If you’re struggling to find a new job, you’re not alone.

Alan Roberts, 59, estimates he’s sent out 1,000 résumés since he was laid off from his sales job in February. He thinks he’s heard back from less than 1% of them. “I just can’t believe how bad it has gotten out there,” he says, frustrated with everything from the self-identification information requested on applications to what he believes are false job listings.

Since finishing his masters in research design and analysis in December, Joseph Gugino, 29, says he’s been applying for 20 to 30 jobs a week—everything from internships to entry-level positions to stretch roles. His dream job would involve remote data analysis, but he says he’s even started applying to local jobs not pertinent to his education, like a “baking job, which wouldn’t help me gain experience towards anything outside of a kitchen.” So far, he hasn’t received any interviews or follow-ups besides form letter rejections.


And plenty of other job seekers have been expressing frustration to millennial career coach Eliana Goldstein. She says she’s getting a lot of questions from strongly qualified clients about why they’re not getting responses for interviews or moving on to the next round.

“It’s harder to get an offer these days,” she says. “In the past, if you did certain steps, it was pretty much guaranteed you would get an offer. Not to say that you’re not going to get an offer now, but I do feel like timelines are a little longer.”

It took new workers hired in the first quarter longer to find jobs than those hired in the fourth quarter of 2023, a new ZipRecruiter survey finds. And Nick Bunker, Economic Research Director for North America at Indeed Hiring Lab, says that it typically took nine-and-a-half weeks for unemployed job seekers to land a new gig in March. Although that’s longer than the eight weeks it took two years ago during the Great Resignation, it’s historically relatively short and near pre-pandemic levels, he notes. But the rate at which people are voluntarily leaving their jobs is down, he adds, which suggests it might be taking them longer to find a job or there’s a fear of leaving.

In the era of the Great Mismatch, all the data is right where it should be. The unemployment rate is 3.8%. Jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, have fallen to their lowest level in nine weeks and are historically low. And 303,000 jobs were added in march. It’s the best job market in 54 years, after all. What gives?


Some experts say that companies and workers are having a hard time meeting each others’ needs right now. But Goldstein pinpoints three specific factors fueling the job search drag.

For one, there’s still spillover from the layoffs we’ve seen this year and last at companies who overhired during the pandemic. While layoffs are actually historically low, Goldstein says their lingering effects leaves a lot of competitive talent on the market.

It doesn’t help that “AI has leveled the playing field for the résumé,” she says. Nearly half of job seekers are using AI to boost their résumés, and research shows that they’re more likely to be hired. That everyone can have a really strong résumé now is making competition more difficult, she explains.

Post-COVID-19 hiring processes have also changed some as the labor market shifts back from an employee’s market to an employer’s market. “Before, employers kind of felt like they had to just snag whatever talent they could,” Goldstein says. “With the abundance of talent out there, they feel that they can feel a little bit pickier.”

It’s the market re-correcting itself after the Great Resignation, when companies hired relentlessly to catch up to where they would have been if the pandemic hadn’t happened. But sectors started to slow down hiring as the Fed began hiking interest rates to curb inflation, Bunker says: “It’s a sharp retreat, or more of a return to normal from that really rapid period of job gains we saw in 2022.”


Navigating today’s job market relies on networking more than ever, Goldstein says. Not just by maintaining relationships with people you know, she adds, but by developing new relationships with people in roles and companies you want to be in for yourself to create rapport and camaraderie.

And be patient and realistic. “If you switched jobs two years ago, just know that baseline is out of date,” Bunker says, adding that this doesn’t mean the economy is stagnating. “What we saw a couple of years ago was anomalous; that was really a byproduct of a surge and bounce back from the pandemic. So, it’s hard to see that exact kind of labor market returning in terms of the quantity of hiring.”

But that doesn’t mean it won’t be an employee’s market again. “I’m a believer that it will kind of always balance out and swing the other way,” Goldstein says. “I have no doubt that it will, at a certain point, kind of go back to feeling a little bit more status quo.’


SOURCE: https://www.fastcompany.com/91114022/why-is-it-so-hard-to-find-a-job-right-now

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