There are good and bad things about looking for work in 2023. It may be that unemployment has been below 4% for a year or so, and there are almost a record number of job openings, but it’s still not easy, and getting hired is not routine.
It’s hardly a great time to be trying. At least it wasn’t six months ago, according to “Why job searches suck right now” (Adrienne Matei, Insider, May 22nd). “Applicants are sending out hundreds of job applications and hearing nothing back. Ghost jobs, AI resume screening, and a lopsided economy are making the job search miserable.” Also, “economic instability, opaque hiring processes, and the destabilizing rise of technologies like generative AI have converged into an environment where it’s hard for job seekers to feel like they have even a basic sense of what’s going on,” and “finding a job right now isn’t only tough, it’s deeply weird.” As I wrote 12 years ago, job openings do not mean job hiring – apparently, per Matei, that is true now more than ever. Some fields have also been recently economically damaged, especially “real estate, media, and tech,” and, overall, “discombobulation is par for the course.”
Another recent work-searching problem was the subject of “Want a Job? Cool, There are 17 Interviews” (Alison Green, Slate, May 23rd). One respondent said that for a single position he had already had seven, with apparent interviewer coordination and competence issues, as he was repeatedly asked the same questions. The high mark, though secondhand, was a friend of a respondent claiming she had had 29 (!) half-hour interviews, and was not hired, without the position being filled. As well, remote interviews have made it possible for them to be scheduled one a day, and sample work assignments, some even to be completed before any interviews, are getting common and lengthier.
How can people apply artificial intelligence to the job search itself? In Benefit News on October 17th, Deanna Cuadra gave us some insight in “How to use AI to write a great cover letter.” The way is to “pick the right AI tool,” and some even specialize in cover letters; “know how to prompt AI” by asking it the needs, priorities, and responsibilities the advertised position is likely to involve; “don’t let AI fears hold you back”; and consider adding your own changes to the tool’s output. On November 6th in Wired.com, Caitlin Harrington, in “This AI Bot Fills Out Job Applications for You While You Sleep,” told us about “software engineer Julian Joseph,” who used LazyApply’s Job GPT capability, which, after he provided “some basic information about his skills, experience, and desired position,” applied to 5,000 jobs on his behalf. He got “around 20” interviews, and one job offer.
After knowing of employers cutting off unsuccessful candidates without any politeness, I can’t say I was sympathetic to read, also from Cuadra in Benefit News, November 13th’s “Job candidates are still ghosting employers – and the interview process is to blame.” Not the marathons described above, but “a poor interview experience,” and, even now, “over one-third of candidates have experienced discriminatory interview questions, most commonly around their age, race and gender.” Also, per a Greenhouse study, “19% of job seekers have changed their names on their resumes, with 45% doing so to sound more white, 42% to sound younger and 22% to sound like the opposite gender,” with age discrimination the largest perceived problem. As for the ghosting, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
To end with something positive, we read in Fox News on October 16th that “US companies increasingly eliminate college degrees as a requirement amid “out-of-control” school costs.” Those cited as announcing “plans to reduce the number of jobs that require college degrees” were Walmart, IBM, Accenture, Bank of America, and Google – not minor firms. The real reason likely is a lack of candidates, as needing higher education, a dramatic shift from pre-1970 policy, was more of a way to thin the field than anything needed for work. This is a positive trend, and I hope that other artificial barriers, such as certifications for the like of hairdressers, will also go away. It is time. And it is also time for employers to treat those seeking to work for them with the kind of respect they expect themselves.