6 months. 300+ job applications. 5 interviews. No job.
This is an archived post, but the experience is something I’ll never forget, and it still resonates in the workplace today. It is raw and real, so you have been warned.
Let's start with the obvious. This post is merely describing my experiences as a millennial job seeker. You know, the generation that's lazy, entitled, and expects everything for nothing? That's me. I will attempt to break down these myths and describe the core of the problem: a Post-Recession workplace still driven by low wages.
It All Started When…
After being sent back out into the workforce unexpectedly, I was positive I would land another job in a matter of weeks. Little did I know those weeks would turn into endless months. I updated my resume and began filling out job applications. I was sure the phone would start ringing. It didn't.
I have a Master's degree with extensive experience across multiple industries. We teach our children to get an education to further their chances of getting a decent job. The reality is education is no longer the gateway to opportunity it was in previous generations.
Before you list all of the obvious things I should be doing, allow me to explain everything I have done so far. If you've read my previous article, then you know writing resumes is my area of expertise. The resume is the gateway to the interview process, so I've heard. Despite several revamps, keywords, and customizations (I created at least 30+ so far), I couldn't make it past ATS.
We teach our children to get an education to further their chances of getting a decent job. The reality is education is no longer the gateway to opportunity it was in previous generations.
Networking is also a go-to place to connect with people who can tell you more about your industry or connect you with potential job opportunities. I've done extensive networking with mixed success. I've had 3 categories of people: those who genuinely want to talk, those who say they want to talk and never follow up (despite me reaching out), and those who make the connection and say nothing.
If you are an established professional, remember your early working days and the struggle. Be willing to help others on their journey-because someone helped you with yours.
Recruiters are a great way to get the inside scoop with a company. The problem is locating a recruiter that's willing to recognize your talent. After 3 job fairs, putting my resume on recruiter websites, and speaking with a few in person, I noticed some issues. The recruiters who were willing to vet me weren't enough to get me in the door, and the others were entirely too invasive without providing any information about themselves or the job opportunity.
The Black Hole of Job Applications
The job application is the most broken piece of the entire process. It favors the employer and potential employees are often thrown out before they even have a chance. Below are some of my biggest pet peeves:
My salary information- It is absolutely, positively, NONE of your business what I made with my last employer. Period. It will be illegal in Massachusetts starting in 2018 to ask prior salary history, so let all of us follow suit.
My salary requirements- Pay people what they're worth. Period. Let's address the elephant in the room right now. I get there are negotiations and benefit packages, but let's just be real. Every company has a budget, and each position has a range. Tell people what the range is and let them decide if the range is satisfactory. If a job seeker spends 30+ minutes completing your job application, the least you can do is provide some information beyond the job description.
Endless, meaningless tests- One job application had me complete 110 Likert-scale questions! All for a job I never even got an interview. The madness must end. I totally understand hiring managers are inundated with applicants, but demanding job seekers jump through a ton of hoops is not the answer.
References- If you intend to hire me, I know my references will be checked. Do you really need this information before the first interview? Save the references for people you actually intend to hire.
Job Requirements- Seriously, job requirements are starting to look like novels rather than their intended purpose. A job description provides the core elements of what a person will do on the job. It is not a bucket list of everything you think someone should have. If the requirement says 5 years and I only have 3, why am I still disqualified?
Some parting notes on what I believe needs to change:
No job applicant is 100%. Stop re-advertising the same job over and over again because you can't find a qualified applicant. Be willing to train people, and you could build a great employee engagement program. As someone who worked in childcare, I would never approach a parent and tell them to bring back their child once they've learned colors and numbers. Find someone with potential and bridge the gap. It's really not that hard.
Use assessments appropriately. A 56-question assessment about possible drug use is not appropriate (yes I had to complete one of these). Assessments are a great alternative to viewing job candidates, but for the job seeker they are time-consuming and often times still aren't enough to land an interview even if they are successful.
Pay people what they are worth. If your objective is to pay people as little as possible, then you will get what you pay for. Literally. I watched an organization dwindle in staff and eventually close its doors permanently because they refused to pay people what they were worth. Don't let it happen to your organization.
Let's do away with redundancies in the job application process. Update your ATS to link to social media so people can parse their resumes. Stop asking people to upload a resume, then complete the same information in the next section.
It has been 6 months since I have been employed, and despite 2 degrees, a cumulative 3.8 GPA from high school to graduate school, and a budding network, I still have not landed an employment opportunity. Something has to change, and the burden has to shift from the job seeker.
I have since landed an employment opportunity that offered me a promotion within the first 2 years, something I couldn’t accomplish at my previous employer. If you’re ready to change the story in your organization, click here to learn more.