In October 2009, at the end of the Great Recession, unemployment hit 10%. Finding a job was hard. Many people, especially recent graduates who lacked experience, ended up taking part-time jobs or working in a field that didn’t actually require a degree.
Unemployment has been falling slowly and steadily and it’s now down to 3.8% but many people are still struggling to find work.
Why Is It So Hard?
The hiring process isn’t what it used to be. In the United States, from application to the final hiring decision, getting a job takes 23.8 days. That’s only if you’re actually successful in getting hired.
Add in a couple of rejections along the way and the process can easily take 6 weeks or more. The more specialized the position you’re seeking, the longer it’ll take for you to get hired.
Hiring new employees isn’t what it used to be.
With online job boards attracting more applicants and easy online applications, recruiters have more resumes to sift through than ever before. Most big companies use algorithms to sort through resumes, looking for the most qualified candidates.
Algorithms might speed up the process but they also make it harder for individuals to stand out. They also make it less likely that recruiters will take a chance on a less qualified but driven candidate. If your resume does make it past the algorithm and onto a recruiter’s desk, you face the next hurdle.
Before, job seekers used cover letters to stand out from the crowd, sharing their less obvious qualifications or passion for a particular company. Today, many job seekers don’t bother writing a cover letter and most recruiters don’t consider it important.
These changes in how open positions are filled aren’t just hurting job seekers; recruiters are finding that, despite the stacks of resumes, they still have a hard time finding qualified candidates. And with millennials job hopping more than older generations, there are more applicants despite low unemployment.
What Are People Looking For?
Whether it’s compensation, work environment or work/life balance, satisfaction is one of the primary reasons employees leave. At the same time, recruiters want qualified candidates who are proactive “doers” as they are a better investment for the company.
The best time to show that you are a doer is during an interview.
How to Be A Doer
Step 1: Be The Linchpin
We’ve all heard the aphorism, “It’s easier to get a job if you have a job” and in this case, it couldn’t be more true. The best way to show what you can do is by doing it. Show up early, be open to feedback, and be organized and self-starting.
Keep up the quality of your work and show that you’re a great team player. Then, ask your coworkers to be a reference for your next position.
Step 2: Prepare for the Interview
When you finally land that interview, your work is far from done. Knowing how to ace your job interview involves more than planning the right outfit. Research the company’s website, learn about its culture and values and pre-plan any questions you want to ask in the interview.
Review the job listing and think of ways your experiences showcase the skills they’re seeking. Understand the industry and competitors.
If you have any connections on LinkedIn that worked for the company, check in with them and ask for advice and information.
Step 3: The Perfect Interview
Most recruiters use multiple interviews to gauge whether a candidate is a good fit. The first screening or phone interview will probably just to review your resume and confirm your interest in the position. This is a great time to learn more about the company and ask any questions you may have about corporate culture and values.
Face-to-face and follow-up interviews will be more in depth. Most companies focus on behavioral interview questions to gauge whether you’re the right fit for the company. Knowing the company culture before you walk into the interview can help you answer these questions.
And remember, if you don’t have a perfect answer, you can always give a hypothetical one. Tell how you would do things differently now that you have more experience.