With So Many Open Jobs, Why Is It So Hard to Find One?

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By Kim Littlefield
February 15, 2022
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The current mindset of most job seekers today is, “I’ll have no problem finding a new job!” A turnover tsunami called The Big Quit or The Great Resignation is upon us. Organizations are facing the biggest talent crisis since the 2008 recession. However, this time it is different. People are no longer competing for jobs at companies; companies are competing for people. 

So why are people leaving? According to a recent SHRM survey, the top three reasons driving resignations over the past year are the desire for better compensation and benefits, the need for better work-life balance, and lack of recognition for the work they do. A Visier survey reveals burnout as the key driver for voluntary turnover. A Gallup survey indicates that the current resignation rate is an effect of “workplace issues” like lack of engagement or active disengagement. Just as the opinions on the pandemic are varied, so are the reasons people are leaving their jobs.

People are stepping back and reflecting on their lives through a completely new lens. Life was turned upside down when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and we were quickly forced to make significant changes to how we work. Now that we have all been in this new world of work for a while we are asking, “Is this it? Or, is there more?” I refer to this as the “good” that has resulted from COVID-19.

As the lines between work life and home life continue to blur, there seems to be a recurring theme. People want work to be better balanced in their lives. It’s both personal and individual. Better balance means different things to different people. For some, it may mean not having to commute to the office every day. For others, it may mean the ability to work from different locations.

With Help Wanted signs everywhere, it is hard not to believe finding a new job is easy. Step into the job market though and you will quickly find it is not as easy as you might assume. If so many people want to find new jobs and so many companies need new talent, why is it so challenging out there? 

  1. This turnover tsunami was unexpected and put companies in a reactive versus proactive state. They had to deal with COVID-19 chaos and now they are dealing with a mass exodus of their employees. Hiring managers suddenly left shorthanded are so desperate to fill the role they aren’t taking the time to clearly define what they need and want going forward. Many are looking for an exact match when not having an exact match is the norm today. As a result, when presented with candidates there is a disconnect and the potential for inaction.
  2. While managers and recruiters go back to the drawing board to tease out what they really need, if you were interviewed in the first round, you may be “ghosted.” (Ghosted? I thought that was only in the dating world? Nope! It happens in the job market too.) Despite a stellar interview, you may be left wondering why you did not make it to the next round or why you did not get any feedback from the recruiter. You follow up multiple times with no response, so you cross them off your list. If this happens enough you may begin to wonder if you should take a different approach or even what’s wrong with you. You thought you had a lot of talent. You thought you would have a choice of offers. It is taking much longer than you anticipated. When your confidence wanes it can cause you to lose momentum or accept a job that is not right for you.
  3. Companies have been slow to change their hiring practices. Some are struggling to admit there is a new world of work. Some are waiting to return full-time to the office. Many do not want to agree to workplace flexibility or hybrid/remote models. Leaders who prefer to be in the office daily may assume their employees desire the same. All of this is leading to delays in the time it takes to make a candidate an offer. With so many choices out there, if a candidate isn’t hearing back they move on to the next opening.
  4. Rather than the traditional “ready, aim, fire” approach to a job search, many job seekers have adopted a “ready, fire, aim” mentality meaning they are not targeting good fit roles at specific organizations. According to a survey by Gartner, candidates today are more casual. The old way of looking for a job called the “Analog Era” involved researching companies, producing a shortlist of jobs, applying to those jobs, and speaking to recruiters. The new “Digital Era” is the opposite. Candidates are applying, speaking to recruiters, researching, and then coming up with a short list of companies. If you are blasting your resume out to any job that pops up in your various digital feeds, regardless of your true interest or  qualifications, you run the chance of falling into that “black hole” wondering if anyone saw, let alone read, your resume.  Recruiters are inundated with unqualified candidates and they end up overwhelmed, unable to sort through the volume of applicants to find those who are qualified, never mind the cream of the crop. They need to find the right talent. Doing your due diligence by researching the company online and networking with others who work there will tell you whether that specific opportunity is worth your time and energy (and mental well being) to apply. If it is of interest to you, better to try to network in rather than merely submit your resume online. Though it is hard to believe in this digital age, 75% of job seekers still find anew role through networking.
  5. The first question candidates at all levels, including C-level executives, ask recruiters is, “Is this job fully remote?” Once they hear it is, then they inquire about the  job function and cultural match. Yes, there are many benefits of working remotely, however, pursuing only remote jobs can lead to jobs that do not match your skillset or selecting companies that are a poor fit for you. If you prove you are the right candidate for the job, employers may be willing to make the job remote or give you more flexibility than they planned in order to hire your talent.

With the Great Resignation has come great expectations. Regardless of whether you are a recent graduate, emerging leader, or senior executive, managing your expectations on how long it will take you to land a new job will help prevent blows to your self-confidence. Pausing and reflecting on what you really need and want in your next role will save you time in the end. Figuring out which culture you are best suited for will prevent buyer’s remorse and job hopping. It’s important that you find the right new job for greater career satisfaction.

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