I think it's weird that "finding a job" should be so difficult for nearly everyone

Even disregarding the current economic situation. I find it weird that “finding a job” seems like such a universally difficult problem for nearly everyone. I can see how that might happen if you are trying to get into some competitive management training program or work for some elite company. But it seems to be a problem that crosses all education and experience levels. I constantly hear (and experience) stories of people sending out a hundred resumes to get one interview or dozens of interviews to land one offer.

In fact, it seems so difficult that when I actually start a new job, I’m often shocked by much it’s just like any other office full of dummies. From the HR and Marketing bullshit and the battery of a dozen interviews, I thought I needed to be a 31 year old MBA, JD, PhD genius with movie star charisma and looks, 25 years of experience across seventeen careers without changing jobs more than once every five years. Turns out it’s just more corporate paper pushing, meetings and emailing that pretty much anyone with half a brain and a descent business education can do.

This is all true, of course, and there are many jobs that on paper look just the right fit. But job hunting/recruiting is like dating. I recruit people in my role, and am conscious that I’ll see dozens of CVs for most roles. Most of those people would probably be just fine, but I can only pick one.

It doesn’t mean, or course, that there are a dozen people looking for work for every role available. Just that both sides have to kiss a lot of frogs before they find what they perceive to be the right person/role.

Very disheartening for the interviewee and hard not to take it personally - my wife is middle management, very good at her job, and recently took a year to find a job following redundancy.

And because competence, in general, has declined, those who are hiring don’t know enough about the skills or qualifications that are needed for the position being filled, nor do they know how to stack them in order of importance. Recognizing a qualified candidate is a matter of checking boxes and tallying up the results. Given a narrowed down list, interviews are auditions. It’s performative art that comes down to how well you can charm the director and producers with your patois (buzz-word bingo!).

It’s like suit shopping for a suit you may or may not need. You know you want blue but you’re not sure which shade of blue, or fabric texture, stripe or check or solid. You’ll know when you see it. And when you do see it, the price might not be right so you’ll go back to the department store to look at the sale rack and start again. Maybe a grey will be okay too.

Used to be that you needed an engineer, or a machinist, or a carpenter. You’d expect they had the basic skills necessary and that they would learn the rest. Now, you’ve got to “hit the ground running”. They want answers to scenarios they’ve screwed up in the past and need someone who they are sure won’t make the embarrassing mistake they did. No room for error here. They run a tight ship. You must come in with the benefit of their experience or you’re no good to them.

I once was asked to to explain how I would handle migration of apps that are no longer supported by the new version of the platform. He could not or would not give me any more detail. Likely he didn’t know and this was just a gotcha question. So I said, you don’t/can’t migrate them. He simply would not have it and went back to checking his phone for the rest of the interview. At the end I told him I hoped this wasn’t a waste of his time. I didn’t get selected. Shocking.

Bottom line is, specialization in every industry has taken its toll on everyone, to the point where people who are hiring all too often don’t know what they are looking for and aren’t qualified enough themselves to hire for the position they are trying to fill.

Wow, speak for yourself! I’m not in HR, I know exactly what I need from my new recruits.

Don’t get offended. This doesn’t apply to everyone and you may well be among those who are much more competent to make the hiring decisions.

You might know, but depending on the company, a lot can happen between what you need and how your company addresses those needs in the marketplace.

I was out of work for two years. For the first year I kind of half-heartedly looked, thinking something would pop up at any time; it didn’t.
Then I really got serious and hunkered down and applied for anything and everything. I got desperate and applied at the local grocery store, Home Depot, Costco, Walmart!

I’m an electronics technologist, but have spent most of my career in Quality Management. I’m way overqualified and they knew it. They knew I’d be gone in an instant when a better job came along, and they were right.

So, I had two real interviews in a year. One that was OK, and one I thought I completely nailed. No offers.

Fourish months ago I read a news story about a local company ramping up making piece parts for COVID test kits. I googled them, found a valid email address and sent them a nice cover email and my resume. I got a call three days later about an interview for an overnight Quality Control Inspector. Seriously below my pay grade, but what the hell? They hired me on the spot with no reference checks or anything.

Just yesterday I passed my three month probationary period. This is how difficult it can be to find a job. Usually it’s not what you know, but who you know.

When I was laid of fin 2007 I faced the problem that my prior career was pretty much no longer in existence. I was “enormously overqualified” for a job that no longer existed.

I went through some very tough years.

Then I STOPPED putting on my experience and education on my resumes. All of a sudden I got hired, and nearly six year later I’m still here.

That’s part of the problem of starting over - which I had to do: you hit that check box of X experience Y education Z salary and you’re tossed in the bin even if you are willing to start over at the bottom and work your way up again. The assumption is “no one will ever do that” so you don’t even get a chance to do it.

It’s crazy that I had to omit some of my assets in order to get a foot in the door, but it turns out I’m not the only one who did it to get hired where I am. Yeah, I used to earn about 2-3 times what I currently do, but I needed a job, not necessarily the job I used to have, which didn’t exist anymore.

That sounds like a bit of an extreme case, but still not that unusual. I don’t know what an electronics technologist in Quality Management is, but I assume there must be more than one company that needs one. And I can’t imagine that there are that many other people qualified to do it in a particular geography. Plus it sounds technical enough that I’m sure there have to be jobs somewhere between “Walmart” and VP of Quality Management you would be qualified for.

One unfortunate aspect that I perceive is simple timing. Generally, one is not permanently looking for a new job. So, when a perfect fit appears, one is often not in the market and aware of it. Same from the employers side, the perfect employee may be out there, but they aren’t looking when you have the opening. Even with the involvement of professional head hunters/recruiters there is the supply/demand mismatch.

So, one ends up with a job that isn’t a perfect fit, and employers end up hiring only the best of the lot that they have to choose from.

There’s a huge lemon market in job matching on both sides.

Think about it: Companies with bad policies and bad managers with high turnover are constantly looking for new workers. People who are bad workers, regularly unsatisfied, etc. are constantly looking for new jobs.

Obviously, not everyone looking for a job is a bad worker, and not everyone looking to hire is a bad company, but they are vastly overrepresented, which is one reason it’s very hard for good workers to find good companies with a good employment fit. They’re just often not in the market for very long.

At one job, a colleague left. He knew well in advance and told everyone. He even helped write the job description for his replacement. But by the time others had their way with it, he wasn’t even qualified for his own job, as written.

And then HR used third-party recruiters who knew fuck-all, resulting in low-value “tailored” stacks of resumes for the people who actually knew something to look at. They eventually did hire someone who ended up being terrific, but who didn’t actually fit the advertised description. Someone on the team knew him and he was recruited directly.

Bingo! This is it.
The reason that the person who sends out 100 resumes is having trouble getting hired is that every other bozo is also sending out 100 resumes, so hiring managers get swamped and unless the resume is golden you dump it.
There is no way the person sending out 100 resumes has researched 100 companies. There is no way that the resume has been tailored to the needs of 100 companies.

I never had trouble getting hired, and I never had trouble hiring people, since I networked like hell. In my last company it was easier to hire new PhDs, so I had a network of professors and found good matches before anyone else did.
If you know someone, or can get introduced to someone, in the team you go to the head of a line since we’ll always want to hire someone with a known reference rather than some random resume. Just like in Ruken’s example.
Good example - I was helping a manager define a job once. Then someone who worked with me on an industry committee called saying he was looking for a job. His credentials matched the new job, so I put him in touch with the hiring manager and he got hired - and did very well. The manager didn’t have to wade through 1,000 resumes, the guy didn’t have to do a million interviews, win win.
Of course there have to be jobs out there.

I don’t understand this comment. When I knew what I needed in an employee it was to do the job - nothing to do with product requirements or the marketplace.
Since I recruited in a specialized area HR always helped, never hindered, since they didn’t even pretend to understand what I was looking for in a candidate. I understand that not everyone is so lucky.

I guess those who don’t have excellent networking skills are just screwed, then, right?

Also, if you’re starting over in a new career - like people graduating from a training program after losing a prior career to technology - you aren’t going to have an extensive network. Which might be why such training programs generally don’t have an abundance of success.

This was a problem for me with my first career. No one ever told me I had to network. My parents certainly didn’t know that was one of the reasons to go to college. I’m a bit of an introvert, so no, I didn’t build up a “network”. I was just supposed to know that I was supposed to do that intuitively, I guess.

I learned the hard way. The very hard way.

It’s one reason why people whose parents have been to college and had successful careers have an advantage over those of a more disadvantaged background - their parents know to get them networking early and often.

This is the real crux. Landing a job is more akin to a lottery than any real measure of your qualifications. Sure, you can do that job just fine, but so can the dozens - or maybe hundreds - of other applicants for the one open position. And in most cases internal applicants and those who know somebody go to the top of the pile. So yeah, you’ll probably have to by a lot of lottery tickets before you finally win one.

A challenge with the networking and direct recruiting is that I don’t think I’ve had a job that hasn’t benefited from skills and experiences we hadn’t thought to seek out. Also, some networks can be small, insular, and not very diverse. This obviously isn’t the case for everyone. But if I’m concerned about opportunities for various groups not represented well in my own network, I need a wider net.

Unless there is a severe shortage of workers, it is inevitable that getting a job will seem difficult. 100 people each applying for 100 jobs that they are qualified for will all get employed eventually, but the chances are there will be a lot of rejections along the way.

Interesting way to think about it. For the OP, finding a job can be difficult due to circumstances like location and because there are so many people flooding the usual job-search channels. Really underscores the points about networking to find opportunities - it’s the best way to separate yourself from the chaff.

I am also somewhat introverted and could probably do a better job networking, but I think people like me underestimate the size of their network. Not just friends and family, but former colleagues and associates can be an avenue for finding a job with a good-fit. Using social media platforms to stay connected over time can be useful (but oversold, IMHO). The hard part is just knowing when to reach-out to people and knowing what to say and how to say it.

Like the hard part of automotive repair. Everybody knows how to get to the engine compartment.