The Current Job Search Reality: The New Rules of the Game

new rules of the game
It is now common for someone looking for a new job or career to have to wait 6 months to a year before landing it. Literally hundreds of job seekers are applying for each opening. Because of this, a new approach to job searching is needed. One that looks objectively at the game and has a strategy in place to win. But first some truth telling. It is time for a hard dose of reality when it comes to the current state of job hunting: It isn’t going to get easier anytime soon.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to hang your head and move back into a relative’s basement. You just need to come to terms with the situation and stop planning your job search around ideal circumstances. In a perfect world, you'd decide you want a new job or career, then spend a day or so researching local companies. Then, you’d  send a handful of  emails to some contacts. next thing you know, you’d have a couple interviews set up and you’d be well on your way. Those days are gone. (If they ever really existed at all)

In the current market, most professionals would best be advised to go through a recruiter- the gatekeepers of the best jobs. In order to increase your chances of success you need to keep in mind the following facts about job hunting through recruiters:

  • Unemployment, and therefore competition for openings, is still high. Recent lower numbers simply reflect the fact that people have dropped out of the workforce and are not looking. When the economy improves, ironically, the numbers will jump up again.
  • Recruiters routinely receive hundreds of resumes for each opening. They spend more time rejecting people and accepting them.
  • With so much competition, employers can be extra choosy. A resume that would have landed an interview 10 years ago will not necessarily be successful today.
  • Recruiters are not experts in your field. They look for candidates to fill any number of positions. So you can not assume they will necessarily understand all of your job descriptions and accomplishments.

When you do send in your resume, it is most likely going to be put into a large and formidable resume management system. The recruiters will use keyword filters to find the best matches for each opening. These keywords will come from the job description that the hiring manager wrote. Actual human eyes will not see your resume until it has been filtered through a number of databases.

This is all very intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are the steps you need to take to make sure your resume makes the cut.

1. Read over the job posting carefully. Write down the particular words used to describe both the job, and the ideal candidate.
2. Include a keyword competency section on your resume. Include any specific terms or phrases listed in the job posting as well as specific job related terms. Think of things like machinery, software, hardware and various technical skills.
3. Research and include industry appropriate buzzwords. We all laugh at them and know they sound pretentious, but they are also going to be used by the resume sorting software, so include them.
4. Most important, make sure the software can read your resume. That means no pdf files, no graphics, no obscure fonts. All these make beautiful presentations, but most systems will not see them properly, or worst of all, they may simply appear as blank.

Is the job market hard right now? Yes. Is it impossible to find a job? No, especially not if you know the rules of the game.