We all like reassuring news. So when job seekers read the headline: "Unemployment down to 9%," the feeling is, "Well, 9% is bad but a little better, so maybe it won't be so hard to land a job."
Anecdotally, my career counseling clients are having a much tougher time than ever trying to land a decent job, and two analyses of the unemployment statistics explain why. The self-serving government statistics grossly underestimate how difficult the job market really is:
The Editor-in-Chief of U.S. News wrote THIS, and this week's, Business Insider contained THIS even more frightening piece: 19 Scary Facts About Getting a Job in America. I too wrote on this topic.
The Business Insider report concluded with, "Getting a job today means going up against terrifying odds."
Yes, if a job seeker is a star and/or has a powerful network, s/he will find a job without undue pain. But the more typical job seeker must face today's reality that to land a decent job, you may be in the fight of your life. I say this knowing it's scaring you but I'm finding that most job seekers still delude themselves into thinking that the normal job search efforts that worked in the past will still work. I want you to be employed, so I feel I should try to shake you from your complacency.
Today, average, let alone below-average candidates must do an A+ job search: some combination of compelling cold and warm contacts with employers who are not advertising jobs, outstanding internet/social media presence, cover letters and resumes that prove, not just assert, your ability to be a superior employee in the applied-for position, and perhaps most important, knock-em-dead collateral material. Examples: A salesperson sends 50 great leads he'd call if hired. A CFO describes the top 10 trends in C-level financial work that would be crucial for that company to consider. An applicant sensing a fluid job description, writes a post-interview thank-you note that tactfully proposes a reinvented job description that would be better for the employer and for which the candidate is an ideal fit.
I wish I could say, as I have in earlier years, that a moderate, steady, well-targeted job-search will usually work. Unfortunately, today, everything has changed. We are forced to ratchet-up our efforts...significantly. Alas.