It is becoming increasingly common for certain jobs to cluster in large cities within the U.S. You probably noticed it when Amazon picked their new headquarters. The cities that made the list were the usual suspects. And, it’s the same for other big businesses. Many are located on the coasts, in cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
I’m beginning to see a trend of job seekers that are looking to relocate to these large markets. Their goal long term is to create career stability. They assume that being in a big city, they’ll have an easier time finding their next job. This thought process makes sense in today’s professional environment. Many people switch jobs every three to five years. Forty years ago, you would stay at a job until you’d retire, but sadly, this is no longer the case.
The thing that’s a bit odd is this. Many companies are demanding local candidates. You might even notice on some job postings the words, “Local candidates only.” I’ve seen many instances where a candidate has a positive phone screen with human resources. In the last five minutes of the call, the company will realize that the candidate isn’t currently living in their city. They plan to relocate. It is not unusual for a company to end the phone screen and to reject the candidate on location alone. They will say, “We have enough local candidates. We don’t need to consider people from other regions of the country.”
At first blush, many people assume the company is trying to save money on relocation expenses. But, I’m not sure that explains the full situation. Even when a candidate offers to relocate themselves, the companies don’t take the bait. Some hiring managers say that out of town candidates are more risky. The job seeker might not like the new city. But, isn’t everyone risky? I suspect that part of the issue is that it’s logistically more work to hire an out of town candidate. You have to plan in person interviews ahead more. Plane tickets must be booked. Hotel rooms must be reserved. The start date may be further in the future.
The candidate could move themselves first. But, quitting your existing job and moving to a new city where you have no connections is a big risk. The cities I mentioned are quite pricey. They aren’t a great place to be if you’re not going to have a stable paycheck.
I’m not sure what the solution, but, we’re one country. Landing a job in a new city should be easier than it is today. Companies, take more time to consider out of town candidates. Hiring managers, if your recruiter is mysteriously only presenting you with local candidates, find out more.
I saw the perfect profile for a recruiter recently. It said, “I am not a ninja / purple squirrel / unicorn hunter, nor someone who hires ‘rock stars.’ I am a strategic and tactical recruiter, meaning I partner with leaders and we hire – at scale, for the niche skills required to make the difference to a business.”
Have you ever heard of this phrase – “purple squirrel”? In the world of the job search, it is a reference to a hiring manager who wants to find the perfect applicant. They’re looking for that once in a lifetime candidate that will bring everything they want to their business and more. The person is often also referred to as a unicorn, a ninja, or a rock star.
The problem is this. This purple squirrel hiring strategy is completely unrealistic. It relies on an environment that no longer exists in 2019.
You may wonder what I mean. Well, think of it this way. The dot com crash happened in 2000. This is around the same time that Monster.com started to be the way companies hired. Other sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor have also come onto the scene, but the process has remained largely the same.
Employers are able to input a large list of criteria and in return, they can find a candidate who has the qualities that they’re looking for. When the job market was terrible, this worked perfectly fine. You could upload a list of, say, thirty skills and get a handful of people who matched.
The issue today is, we’re in the middle of the best job market we’ve seen in fifty years. Unfortunately, many employers haven’t adjusted the way they hire. I have to think this is due in part to one thing. People who graduated from college around 2000 are forty years old now. They are hiring managers. And, for those that age, they’ve never truly experienced a job market where the company wasn’t in control.
They’re stuck on finding those perfect unicorns and it’s showing. The time to fill jobs is taking longer now than it did in the past. Employers are having a harder time finding the perfect person. That’s because job seekers have more choices.
So, what’s a company to do? Stop searching for the perfect candidate. Start looking for great candidates. Look for leaders. Look for motivated, dedicated, smart employees. Because, meeting the criteria on a checklist doesn’t measure how dedicated or excited a candidate may be.
You might be surprised, but a yellow squirrel can get the job done just as well as a purple one – maybe even better. Just because someone has a resume that’s non-traditional doesn’t mean they won’t fit a fit for the job or your organization. Take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Don’t stick to a checklist only approach. You’ll do yourself, your business, and your candidates a huge favor.
The job market is the best it has been in 50 years. You’ve heard that on the news. And, companies are struggling to find good candidates. There aren’t as many people available for work as there used to be. In other words, because the market is doing well, companies are hiring more. Because companies are hiring more, job seekers have more options.
The ironic thing is, when a company finds a great candidate that they want to hire, they’re still interviewing that candidate like it’s 2001. The company is putting the candidate through the paces, assuming they’re in control. One of the ways they do this is by hiring by consensus.
In the ‘good old days’ of job seeking, you might have three interviews. The first would be a phone screen with human resources. Then, you would have a phone interview with the hiring manager. Last, you would come in person and meet the hiring manager and a few others in a panel interview.
For many jobs, the days of a straight forward interview process are gone. Many hiring managers haven’t hired new employees in so long that they’re nervous to make the wrong choice. They don’t want it to be their fault if the candidate doesn’t work out.
So, what does the hiring manager do? Unfortunately, they force the candidate to meet everyone they can create a calendar invitation for. Recently, I have seen many, many job openings where the job seeker is interviewed ten to fifteen times for one job. They are interviewed by the boss, HR, the boss’ boss, the boss’ peers, the job seeker’s peers, the job seeker’s future employees, and sometimes even the person who left the job.
Fifteen job interviews doesn’t result in someone unearthing some important piece of information about a candidate. It is a way for the hiring manager to cover themselves in case the person doesn’t work out.
If you are a job seeker and you find yourself being asked to interview repeatedly for one job, you have a decision to make. You can refuse to do so many interviews. If you do this, you can rest assured that you will not receive a job offer. It doesn’t matter that the company is being both unreasonable and disrespectful of your time. It’s their process. If you want to play ball, it has to be by their rules. So, if you do want the job, you’ll have to go through the process.
But, I would take note of this disturbing trend. If you find yourself interviewing with a boss who is putting you through this experience, it is very likely a reflection on them. They may be a weak leader who is unwilling to accept responsibility for their own actions. It doesn’t mean they’re a bad person and you may even want to take the job. But, if you find yourself being hired by consensus, pay attention.
If you’ve interviewed lately, you know the first step of a job interview is a phone screen. After you apply for a job, a recruiter from the company will reach out to you. They’ll ask to setup a time to meet.
In the phone screen, the recruiter will ask predictable questions. They say, “Tell me about yourself.” Then, they’ll ask follow up questions. “Why are you interested in the job? Why are you looking for a job?” They may also ask how you heard about the job, or how much expertise you have in a certain area. And, they’ll ask how much money you want.
It’s pretty standard. The one question I have seen lately that is shocking however is this. At the very end of the interview, the recruiter will say, “After this call, can you email me a copy of your resume?” Read that again. “After this call, can you email me a copy of your resume?”
This seems like an odd question, right? What I’m getting at is this. Some recruiters are interviewing job applicants without having a copy of their resume. They aren’t downloading it ahead of time from the application. They are going into an interview cold, without knowing anything about the candidate. They’re asking random questions. They are completely and totally unprepared. And that is how they’re making important hiring decisions for the company.
As a candidate, I suppose you may want to start off an interview by checking to see that the recruiter has a copy of your resume. However, this question really seems like it may introduce an odd dynamic to the conversation.
HR leaders, if you are reading this, please take note. This is a genuine problem. I’ve observed many examples of this lately. If you’re a company, I know you want to hire the best people. And, you certainly don’t want to waste a candidate’s time. After all, candidates study for interviews. They memorize your job description. They scour the internet to learn about your company. They practice their answers to common interview questions. They prepare their own questions. And, often, they ask friends and family for help. This is a huge effort to go through for a recruiter to show up unprepared.
If you’re looking for a job, I don’t have a ton of great ideas for this problem. Honestly, the lack of accountability baffles me. And, companies are using these folks as the gate keepers. Sure, many recruiters are helpful. But, even one absent minded recruiter can really cause problems with an entire hiring process.
Companies, it’s past time that we hold ourselves to the same standards that we hold candidates to. It’s time to show up on time and prepared for our interviews. If we don’t have something we need in order to participate in an interview, we should ask for that piece of information before the interview begins. It’s step one.
When a company is looking to hire someone, finding the right candidate takes time. There are often multiple phone screens, multiple video interviews, and in person panel interviews. In some cases, there are homework assignments, IQ tests, personality tests, and drug tests. Typically, there are reference checks. Sometimes job seekers provide writing samples or portfolios of their work.
Thinking about this makes me tired. Don’t you agree? The point is, going through a job search is a ton of work – on both sides. As you can imagine, it’s very important that the job seeker is honest and up front with the company. If they misrepresent their work in any way, the company won’t be able to make the best hiring decision.
On the flip side of this coin, it’s very important that the company is honest and up front with the candidate. What could I possibly mean by that? Well, did you know that sometimes companies will interview candidates when there isn’t really a job available?
That sounds pretty weird, doesn’t it? How could that possibly happen? First, it does happen. I recently witnessed someone go through fifteen rounds of interviews with one company. At the end, the person was notified that they were the top choice candidate, but that the team wasn’t authorized to hire anyone.
I don’t think the company meant any harm by this decision. I think they truly hoped they would get approval for the position, but just never did.
But, let’s think of this from the candidate’s perspective. The candidate turned down other interviews to attend these fifteen interviews. The candidate missed their own work meetings to go to these interviews. The candidate made a lot of sacrifices of their time over months in order to make this work. They made these choices because they were investing in an opportunity that the candidate wanted.
When the company shared with the candidate that they wouldn’t be able to hire them, the company never apologized. It seems clear that the company didn’t realize how much they personally impacted that job seeker. The company never thought about the other opportunities the person walked away from to focus on them.
This is where ethics come in. Interviewing candidates for a job isn’t the same as test driving cars at the dealership. They’re real people. If you don’t select someone because they weren’t the best candidate, no problem. And, if the job was canceled midway through the process, well, life happens sometimes. But, if you are interviewing candidates when you know there is not approval for a job, and you aren’t disclosing that information to the candidate in the first conversation, you are being an unethical hiring manager. The candidate should be able to decide if this role is important enough to prioritize it, considering the potential risk involved.
Let’s agree to be honest and up front. Ethics are important. Transparency is important.
Job searching is tough. But, what is really tough is job searching when you’re unemployed. Through my work with job seekers, I’ve noticed a trend. Those who are unemployed are much more distressed by the process of job searching then those who aren’t.
When thinking through this issue, I looked up the term “emotional rollercoaster.” I was surprised to find multiple websites that claim the term was coined by Dr. N. Amundson in relation to dealing with unemployment. He published an article called, “The dynamics of unemployment: Job loss and job search.”
I’d never heard of this article, but I was able to verify on Google Scholar that it does exist. In the description, it says, “We have developed an integrated model comparing job loss to the grieving process (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) and job search to “burnout” (enthusiasm, stagnation, frustration, apathy).”
If you have a family member who is unemployed, you have probably wondered what is going on. Why don’t they just get over it? Be positive and have a better attitude, right?
Well, sadly, it’s not that simple. When you experience other types of loss, like a death in the family, it can feel absolutely awful. At the time, there’s really nothing worse. But, if other areas in your life stay stable, eventually, you start to feel somewhat normal again after a certain period of grief.
But, unfortunately, with unemployment, these feelings of grief don’t resolve. The unemployed person must alter every piece of their life in order to cope with a sudden loss of income. They may stop going to the doctor. They may buy cheaper food. They may become isolated from friends because they don’t feel comfortable with the cost of going to a restaurant for dinner.
With unemployment, until it’s over, the person continues to be in the middle of an emergency. The end point is unknown, and the worries multiply by the day. To make matters worse, loved ones often assume the unemployed person is doing something wrong. After all, if they were doing everything right, they would have a job by now.
But, that’s not the reality of the situation. Normally, when we look for a job, we have a job. We look passively. It can take a few years to find something that’s the right fit. But, nobody notices because we still have a job. And, when you have a job, you job search in secret. When you’re unemployed, everyone knows you’re looking.
If you have an unemployed friend, cut them a little slack. Realize that it’s not just something they should have a better attitude about. Just because they haven’t landed a job doesn’t mean they aren’t good at what they do. It doesn’t mean they should switch careers. And, it doesn’t mean they need unsolicited advice.
What it means is that they need your friendship and support to get them through this emotional rollercoaster.
I recently heard a saying that stuck with me: “Learning is the new loyalty.” Hearing this phrase, it felt like the record stopped. Everything was quiet for a moment while I contemplated just how much I agree.
Often, I hear from young job seekers who are confused. Their parents have told them not to switch jobs. They’ve been advised to stay at one job for many years. It will offer stability. It will offer a retirement. Employers will respect you for staying at one place for a long period of time. Companies don’t want job hoppers.
This was true – when your parents were starting their careers. But, for the most part, it’s not the case anymore. Employers are quick to lay off workers. They often don’t promote from within. And, many are happy to hire someone new from the outside who is more up to date on technology or industry trends.
So, what’s a job seeker to do? Companies value you being up to date on your work related stills more than they value you staying at a job for ten or more years. It doesn’t mean you should change jobs every six months. But, don’t stay in a job for too long.
You may wonder how long is too long. Ask yourself these questions. Am I still learning? Am I still growing? If the answer to these questions is no, it may be time to start looking. Don’t stay in your current job for years after it becomes routine. If you’re no longer growing your skillset, you’re likely falling behind.
Think about this. When is the last time your company paid for you to attend a class or training? Sure, some companies are great about this. But, they aren’t the norm. Companies no longer prioritize education, but they do still expect you to be learning.
A great way to keep growing and learning is to take on a new challenge at a new company. And, a huge perk is pay. Companies rarely reward people who are loyal and stick around for years and years. They spend their money recruiting new talent. External hires are the ones who will make the current market rate.
The new hires they bring in are the people who are typically the most up to date. And, they stay up to date by not staying in any one job for too long.
Now, keep in mind that this advice is not one size fits all. But, when your parents or grandparents begin to give you a hard time about your career ambitions, ask yourself a few questions. Do they work in the same field as I do? Are they knowledgeable about my career field? If not, you may be talking to the wrong person. If this happens and you’re in search of advice, seek out mentors who are in your field. They may tell you, “Learning is the new loyalty.”
Almost everything else falls into the wrong way category. Occasionally, companies I shop at will try to text me and I opt out. The only time it feels good to interact with a business via text is when they’re confirming an appointment. For example, it can be helpful when a hair stylist confirms their appointment with you by text. It reminds you and allows you to easily interact with the business on your own time.
But, what I’ve seen lately doesn’t fall into these categories. It takes text messaging to an entirely new level. Employers are using text messaging in their hiring process. You heard me right. Employers are texting job seekers.
I have to think that text messaging was some fancy feature added on to a recruiting package. I can imagine a sales rep explaining that, “This is a great way to text with candidates! It will make your life so easy and will let the candidates know that you’re ahead of the game!”
But, I don’t see it this way at all. Job seeking is delicate. First of all, it’s very private. Very few people should be aware you’re job searching. The last thing you need is text messages popping up on your phone out of the blue from an employer. On top of any privacy concerns, job seeking is an extremely emotional process. It can be like a roller coaster. Often, job seekers will put aside certain time during the day to work on their job search. This is a great way to manage the stress that job seekers typically feel.
You may wonder how companies could be using text messaging to communicate with applications. There are two main buckets that these text messages fall into. The first are messages that are sent by people, and the second are automated messages that are sent by a computer.
When a company manually sends text messages, the person is generally reaching out to schedule or reschedule interviews. Recruiters also use text messages to ask candidates how an interview went with a hiring manager. These messages aren’t ideal, but they aren’t the worst.
The worst are text messages sent by computer. Companies are using them to reject candidates. Let that sink in. Remember how painful automated rejection emails are (the ones you check at your home, in the time you’ve devoted to your job search)? Now, imagine you’re going about your day and a rejection pops up on your phone, from a job you were truly interested in. Ouch!
Companies, remember: you don’t have to use every shiny piece of technology on your new applicant tracking system. Treat job seekers the way you would want to be treated.
Have you ever had a great job interview go south? If you were the job seeker, perhaps you weren’t picked right at the very end – after a lengthy interview process. Or, if you were the hiring manager, a candidate that you gave a great offer to turned you down.
These things can happen to the best of us. As a job seeker, it’s possible that the company had two excellent candidates. Ultimately, the selection of one over the other may be somewhat random. As a hiring manager, the candidate may have gotten another offer – or perhaps there was something else misaligned for them. Or, maybe their existing employer finally followed through on their promises.
Whatever happened and whether you were the candidate or the hiring manager, it can often be a stressful situation. It’s a rejection. You know that you may have to start your process over and it may take months. It can hurt your feelings. It can feel like a rejection. It may even feel like a breakup.
Very often, we want to write the person off completely. We might want to defriend them on LinkedIn, and never return another email. But, this is where we’re getting it wrong.
The world is a small place. Your industry may be small too. And, with the rate at which we’re all switching jobs these days, you may cross paths with this person again in the future. In fact, they might end up working for you. Or, you might end up working for them. Or, you may even need them to be a referral for a future opportunity.
The point is, we need each other. And, very often, hiring decisions aren’t as personal as they feel. When you’re rejected, do your best to put your hurt feelings aside. Be professional. Stay in touch. You never know what may come in the future.
I can attest to this from personal experience. One of my all-time favorite jobs, I was rejected for the first time I interviewed at the company. I’m not sure why, but I decided not to take it personally. I stayed in touch with the hiring manager via email every few months for close to two years. I kept him up to date on what I was working on. One day, he asked me to meet up for a coffee. And, it was in that coffee meeting that he asked me to come work for him.
I was so excited, and it turned out to be one of the most important jobs I’ve ever held. But, I wouldn’t have gotten there if I hadn’t been able to be professional and stay connected. And, the company also had to be willing to be professional and stay open.
The next time you’re rejected, put the hurt aside (after you’ve had a little time). Stay connected with the company. Remember, there may be future opportunities that are a fit.
Labor Day is a holiday that honors the American labor movement. It celebrates the development, productivity, and prosperity of the United States. And, it marks the unofficial end of summer. If you’re like most Americans, Labor Day is spent with loved ones and tasty food.
But, the end of summer means one thing in the world of job searching. It’s the time when job postings and hiring begin to slow. Between now and December 31st, the job search world is predicted to slow down. And, it will slow down. This is a trend that happens every year.
If you’re looking for more development, more productivity, and more prosperity at work, this is the time to get started. Honestly, an overall economic slowdown is being predicted by many economists. And, the last year has been the hottest job market in years. The upward growth we’ve seen cannot last forever.
If you’ve been thinking about switching jobs, it’s time to stop thinking and start acting.
I hope your Labor Day is great! But, when you get back from that awesome time of barbecues and swimming and loved ones, set a target for yourself. It’s not too late to start looking – if you start now. But, you have to be committed. Start off by updating two things: your resume and your LinkedIn profile. These are both critical pieces to your job search. You will need them. They aren’t optional.
Then, begin looking through new job postings. Check the postings every day and apply right away. The sooner you apply, the more likely you are to get an interview and land a job. But, don’t rely on the internet alone. Think about the people you know who work at the companies you’re applying to. Ask for their help. You’d be surprised to know how many people get a bonus at work if they refer a friend who was hired. This is an extra incentive for your friend to help get you in front of the right person.
And, use LinkedIn as more than online resume. Use it to find people who work at the company. If you can, use LinkedIn to look up the hiring managers (the bosses) for the jobs you’re applying to. If you find the hiring manager, use the opportunity to network with them and to let them know you’re interested in their job posting.
Whatever you do, don’t fall into a common trap. Many job seekers only apply for a handful of jobs and assume one will come through. If you are sure you want to make a change, you need to apply for more jobs. My goal for you is to apply to ten jobs per week. If you do this consistently, you will eventually find a new job. And, that new job just might provide you with a little more of the development, productivity, and prosperity that Labor Day is all about!