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Some Notes from the Job Front of the War on Prosperity

What’s a vaporjob? Well, read this from a job seeker: offered a job, the company rescinded it. While there are remedies, they depend a great deal on the state. However, in the end, there really isn’t one, except publicizing the company. But people don’t want to do that, because it is more likely to be a black mark on the job seeker than on the company. And people wonder why anonymous blogging is such a fad these days.

What other horror stories from the job trail are out there? One common one is that many recruiters, since they are not being asked first, don’t even look at job applicants that are not employed. "We want job switchers, not job seekers." This is why most, when candid, have said that the best way to get a job is to go to professional gatherings and events. Networking, not job hunting, leads to results.

The other horror on the job trail? Noise. Now that almost everyone is on the internet, people become mini-spam engines, firing off a resume to anything which has a matching keyword. A posting, and 50 resumes later, most hiring managers start to read the top line of the last position, and then call it a day.

Job hunting advice is all over, but most of it isn’t very good. Consider "pack your own lunch," it is good advice; but, it is the kind of advice that only someone who has a job would consider, well, good advice for saving job hunting funds. 

And then there is that old scourge of bad times: pre-screening of references. Headhunters and others love it. But it is brutal on job hunters because almost no one’s references want to be called several times by different unrelated people. It is a great way… to lose a reference. If the recruiter cannot get you an interview after which is the traditional time to check references, then they don’t need yours. Instead, make sure you have them ready, and that everything is properly spelled and typed.

One actual good piece of advice: scrub your social sites because 45% of employers now check them. You are who you know. Which means getting to know more people is crucial. One way? Job hunt in public.  Another? One friend of mine burned some air miles on a cross country airplane trip and handed out business cards. After all, business travel is filled with people who are still employed, many of them hiring. He landed a job, while by his own admission it wasn’t very good, it was better than continued unemployment and, "it’s high travel, which is what I wanted."

But the fact of the matter is, the job market is neanderthal in America: wandering around in circles, with low hit rates, and much of the structure more oriented towards lowering stress in involvement, than in making good matches. With decades of computerization, the good hire rate is the same as it was in my grandfather’s day at General Electric in the 1950’s: about half of all hires really work out.

The other reminder is that it is going to get worse, not better, for the job market for at least 6 months. This means that one of your most important goals is to differentiate your resume. Make sure that every skill you have that otherwise requires a learning curve is on your resume, because most of the better hires are exactly that: finding someone who does not need to learn on the job. Since the worse the job market gets, the more chaotic offices become; this is what employers and recruiters will look for.

So that’s this week’s look at the chaos which is a still shrinking market in a bottoming economy. Everyone knows that the worst is behind "us;" meaning, of course, the us that is directly or indirectly tied to the bank bailout. The other "us" have a while to wait.

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