I’ve lost count how many times I’ve written that in the last month. With an almost 7% global unemployment rate today, it should come as no surprise that more than a few of us are out there pouring hearts, souls, and countless hours into polishing up our resumes, cover letters, websites, and social media to make sure we enter the job hunt looking perfectly polished. The irony is that 2020’s global pandemic brought about a resurgence of caring for each other, equalizing opportunities, promoting values and culture, and the promise of people over profit, and yet, most of us can’t even get a call back.
We, the unemployed, are expected to present ourselves as fangirls and boys (fanpeople?) of the companies we apply to, creating custom resumes, cover letters, and a plethora of other content to show how dedicated we are to the cause. We wait impatiently with our hearts on our sleeves for our not-so-secret crushes to pass the note back to us with a “yes” circled (sorry younger gen — if you know, you know). Heart-crushingly, we don’t know if the note ever made it, was inadvertently knocked off the desk, or worse yet, intercepted by the study hall warden. This is what it feels like to apply to jobs in today’s market.
It’s true, we created this system of digital efficiency that allows anyone anywhere to apply for any job instantaneously, and gives companies the ability to sift through hundreds or even thousands of applicants to find the “cream of the crop” while never giving up valuable time on the rest. Sounds ideal, right? So why, then, are some applicants with equal qualifications making it through the system and some are not? How, then, can a new employer truly know when an applicant with 15 years of experience and an impressive resume is a diamond in the rough or someone who simply slipped through the cracks by riding the coattails of others? How could they know that the recent graduate who is determined to succeed with no experience isn’t exactly the kind of grit they need to kickstart their momentum? Can an algorithm really read non-standardized forms to calculate soft skills and culture fit? I want to believe, but have my doubts.
The stories are everywhere, ie: “I finally landed my dream job after 6 months and applying to 227 different companies!” Outside, we are all so excited for this person, cheer them on and congratulate them, but inside, we are all feeling astonished and defeated… “Could it really be this hard for everyone?” And then, there are the experts who will tell you that to make it happen you just need their resume service, or their professional consultant review, or any number of online workshops. And yet, the fact still remains that it all feels kind of like a crap shoot.
Employers — we get it. You’re running a business and are short staffed or compensating for rapid growth and everyone is doing the jobs of 3 other people just to keep it together. Sifting through resumes and reaching out to countless applicants to sit uncomfortably in an interview where you have to deduce whether they are who they say they are and who you need them to be is hardly anyone’s cup of tea. Trust that we feel the same way. However, fully ignoring those who show up with all of the talent, experience, and devotion in your requirements sends a message — and it likely isn’t the same one you posted in your “About Us” page. We know you don’t mean it, but it matters.
So this is my call and message to hiring managers and recruiters everywhere. This also includes anyone with the technical knowledge and/or the power to make transformative change to the way we connect companies with talent. Is there anyone out there who can level this playing field? There’s a huge opportunity here to make this better for everyone.
It’s 2021 and we survived one of the worst years in recent history. If we can jump all those hurdles, we can do this. Let’s get to work.