Whether the real unemployment rate is as low as the government says it is or much, much higher because it still refuses to count those who have given up looking for work, companies all across the land are STILL having a hard time finding qualified candidates to fill their open jobs, and many job seekers are STILL having a hard time finding the job of their dreams.
There are definitely plenty of opportunities out there, and there are plenty of job seekers, but the two just aren’t always matching up.
Of course, that’s where we staffing agencies are supposed to come in, and in many cases we do, but as good as we are at this stuff we have our challenges too. In fact, Haley Marketing’s just-released “Sales, Marketing & Recruiting Survey Insights Report,” obtained from their survey of several hundred staffing firms, found the “ability to find candidates with the skills and experience employers require is, not surprisingly, the biggest recruiting challenge cited. Nearly 30% of respondents rate ‘skill gap‘ as ‘extremely challenging.'”
The second biggest challenge, according to the Haley survey? Candidate sourcing, which certainly isn’t surprising either.
The fact of the matter is, many companies just aren’t happy with the talent pool reaching out to them or being submitted to them by staffing agencies. In this uncertain economy, they’d often rather wait than hire someone they don’t feel good about.
Lets face it, employers are getting pickier and pickier, and this trend isn’t likely to change anytime soon. Those of us who work in the staffing industry see it every day. So, to those who are unemployed and looking for work, it’s vitally important to maintain yourself as a relevant, marketable, attractive candidate to potential employers.
That said, here are a couple of pieces of key advice to any job seeker still looking for that perfect fit.
Follow this advice, and you won’t just help yourself, you’ll help both of the staffing problems mentioned above!
First of all, and this is the most obvious, do whatever it takes to obtain the in-demand skills companies are looking for. Do your part to bridge that skills gap! I won’t go into a ton of detail here, but this generally involves some book-learnin’. The good news is there are plenty of trade schools and community colleges out there along with government grants designed to help the recently unemployed.
And after and even while you’re doing that, my second and main piece of advice is … get a job!
OK, you’re probably thinking great advice, Captain Obvious, right? Well, what I mean is, while you are looking for that perfect fit and even while you are training for another career or waiting for a job in the career you left, be willing to accept a job that may be beneath your skills and training.
Often someone who is laid off from what they thought was a ‘career’ job with significant salary and benefits will accept nothing less than something similar to what they had before. They’d rather stay home and collect unemployment, often for months and months at a time, never considering the possibility that what they are doing could be hurting their future job prospects.
What employer wants to hire someone who has spent the last year sitting on their couch with pizza stains on their PJs watching Oprah? Maybe you were in your woodshop making birdhouses to sell on Ebay. Maybe you were reading through that copy of War and Peace you started in college. Whatever you were doing, trust me, potential employers think you were watching Oprah, and they WILL be leery of hiring you.
It may even seem insulting to advise people looking for work to get a job, but the fact is, there are TONS of jobs out there – they just aren’t always the kind of jobs everyone wants.This day and age, it’s pretty routine to hear about engineers working as baristas, bankers working at McDonald’s, and so on. Hopefully you can jump right back into that career track you were on before, but if you can’t right away, surely a potential employer will understand this job market and the fact that you have a drive and desire to earn a living for you and your family, whatever vocation you chose to do in between careers.
And even if you’re following my first piece of advice and are in college, trade, or technical school, having at least a part-time job during this time not only shows initiative, it’ll help put food on the table.
Yes, I do realize there are many factors, such as welfare, unemployment, unfair trade, outsourcing, etc., that influence these decisions, but if job seekers en masse would get trained AND be willing to work whatever is available, both the “skills gap” and the “candidate sourcing” issues would go a long way towards being alleviated.
Our grandparents understood the value of work, whatever that work happened to be. Many in our generation have lost that. There are people who would stand on the street and beg or stay home and collect a check than do a job they consider beneath them. They are waiting for their ship to come in, unable to realize that most successful people started at the bottom of whatever career they are in. It could be just a bridge job, or an entirely new and exciting career, but staying active, working and engaged is the single best piece of advice I could offer anyone on the job market today. You’ll stay sharper, feel better about yourself, stave off that wolf at the door, and be in a better position to finally land that brand-new job of your dreams.
This post originally appeared on Staffing Talk and is reprinted with permission.