I'm in my mid-twenties and just recently started interviewing people for the team I work on. It's amazing how little effort many seemingly qualified people put in to secure an entry-level job. Whether it be hustle to learn more about a business, the specifics about the company you might work at, or finding someone to give a second set of eyes on a cover letter or resume, most people really drop the ball. If job prospects are grim, you'd at least hope people would put in more effort.
That they don't know what they're doing? Or that I don't know what I'm doing? Neither of these is a morale booster.
You talk about information being limited to job applicants, but interviewing is a two way street. Interviewers are human and also trying to sift through the information you deliver, and they tend to lean towards false negatives in order to avoid false positives.
Sometimes there is a gap and it really does come down to luck (or your experience in communicating during an interview).
It's a lot like having many failed relationships. It doesn't necessarily teach you to try harder, it often teaches you to become cynical and careless.
Then apply for places where you actually see yourself wanting to work; even if it's McDonalds, people need to eat, a career in the food service industry might be rewarding if that's what you find you like doing.
Or join the military, every country needs a strong military.
Or join a non-profit, build a resume showing what you can and want to do and cut lawns for food money until you have a resume that you can use to get the job you want. You might find you like lawn care and start your own business and become very successful that way.
It's funny how looked down upon this is. If I said, hey come work for me for 4 years. During that time you will get paid, get lodging and likely do some traveling. Oh, and you'll learn some skills. If you want to go to college up front and be an MD for example, I'll go ahead and pay for that and you can work for me for 6 years after gaining valuable experience. If you don't go to college up front, then when you leave my job (you don't have to) I'll give you money for college.
Now, inevitably someone will say they don't want to be sent to a war zone. The % of the military that actually end up in a war zone is very small.
What's the point? No seriously, other than stroking the ego of the interviewer with a 'please sir, I am just dying to work here because you're so awesome and I'm not worthy.' Especially at entry level, one job is pretty much the same as the other. I am not applying because working here is the most important thing to me, I am applying because there was an opening I might be qualified for and I was looking for a job.
I don't care how much you think I should think that your place is the best place ever to work and I should prostrate myself to get it, it's just a damn job and I am only looking for a paycheck so I don't starve and I can do things I want to do with my life.
Yep, I'm actually too scared to state the real reasons why I'm applying. I think HR will filter out my appplication when I write "your opening sounded somewhat interesting and I want to know more about the tasks I have to do when I work here".
Instead I just drop some additional keywords and bullshit into the obligatory "Why do you want to work here?" field. This approached worked so far.
Never put HR on your engineering interview loops.
I actually recorded the statistics for our HR people on the loop to prove that they were random relative to the engineering assessments so I could get them kicked off the loop.
You are there to get "experience" and pad your resume so you can move up to something actually challenging and interesting.
If you're only applying for a paycheck and not a career then I agree. You should just keep doing what you're doing.
Companies would be in a better situation if they realized that they were just a paycheck to their employees and not a damn lifestyle. That would cut into profits though, they'd have to give raises and improve compensation to keep people.
Companies aren't looking for decent employees, they want cheerleaders and morons that are blindly working for shit compensation 'because it's an awesome place' instead of employees that think for themselves and want to be compensated properly.
Where's the hustle?
That's exactly what we see with the Fizzbuzz phenomenon, with every interviewer complaining that no applicant can do it, but everyone tripping over each other (including hobbyists and beginners) to say how easy it is, so "where's my job?"
I saw it too with professors and employers who blog, complaining that applicants and students can barely put together a sentence.
Where meets the twain?
I've noticed a correlation between that and insanely low pay or horrific working conditions, or a crazy disconnect between demands and the requirements.
"I don't understand why none of the applicants can explain the details of why one BGP route is preferred over the other" -- says the guy trying to hire a CCIE for $50K at a dying utility company.
"Well, sure we pivot every month and require 80 hour super high pressure work weeks and the runway ends in six months but aren't all companies, everywhere, on a perpetual death march?" -- says the guy who doesn't get any fizzbuzz-able applicants
"I can't find any applicants with PHD level programming skills and encyclopedic knowledge of algorithms who have written a widely used LISP and/or hold a Fields math medal and/or a Nobel" -- says the guy complaining about getting no serious applicants when trying to hire for an entry level CRUD shoveler, upon being told everyone's unemployed so he should aim high.
But I've also done interviews with no coding at all.
Point being, nobody is going to hire on FizzBuzz alone, in fact I would hatch a guess that most companies don't use it as a problem anymore given its prevalence.
I'm not suggesting that we charge applicants, but years ago when there was the time taken to type resumes, print them up/copy, put into envelope or hand deliver, the amount of time invested likely made people more concerned with their product.
Job seekers are much better served spending an hour sending 10 focused applications than spending that same hour to send 100 sanitized applications.
After spending a lot of time in the process, realizing that prospective employers give an extremely low effort to respond to candidates - no matter how much effort put into a cover letter, resume grooming, or discussion of why the role might be a fit - it's disheartening. Auto-declines are the norm. Posting jobs for legal reasons when there's already an internal candidate in mind is also undisclosed.
Between having to sign up for proprietary job application systems, seemingly advance to the next stage but never getting a call back like a bad one night stand, or taking months to make a decision, the power dynamic is quite unfavorable.
I think employers are finally discovering that applicants are, for lack of a better perspective, using the same kind of attitude as they have been receiving for years.
Note: I am fond of saying the phrase "Good help is hard to find" because it is, and considering the US has had absolutely appalling wage growth metrics - disgusting even - what motivation is really out there?
My comments about spending time in the application process primarily are geared towards candidates right on the border of being qualified.
If I get a resume from someone who is clearly very qualified, I'm going to see it immediately and schedule a call. If the resume is from someone who is absolutely no industry experience applying for a senior job, I'll decline (with a note usually if they took the time to write anything).
But say we have a candidate that is slightly underqualified or barely qualified. They can spend a few minutes writing something targeted, and that will make the difference in them getting an interview.
I've had this debate here before, but if you apply to jobs you are clearly not qualified for, you shouldn't expect a reply because you've wasted your own time and theirs now. If someone applies and is just slightly underqualified, they generally are entitled to a response (especially if they took any time in the application process). Anyone who interviews deserves a response and ideally some specific feedback, but that's another story.
Then there's the rejection, if they even send one.
In my experience, even worse than a rejection was being offered a salary not commensurate with my experience, and in the neighborhood of $5,000 less than what I was already making in a nearly identical role. I've had that happen on at least three occasions, where the employer was either being dishonest about the salary range or withheld that information until very late in the process; even if for innocuous reasons, it functionally seemed like attempting to put me in a difficult position (stay where you are or leave for us for less and no written/promised path for advancement of position or salary).
Do the employers think that young people are desperate for any kind of job, and then low ball their salary? Or do the candidates settle for a number once it reaches the threshold they think they are worth? Do people negotiate more or less than before the recession on average?
I don't believe that there's even data on these questions, but they would reveal an awful lot about the economic state of affairs if you could get enough good data to establish causation-- which might be very hard.
... the country can't look to people coming out of college to reverse this trend because too many of them are strapped by student loan debt. Results of the 2015 Gallup-Purdue Index -- a study of more than 30,000 college graduates in the U.S. -- provide a worrisome picture of the relationship between student loan debt and the likelihood of graduates starting their own businesses.
Among those who graduated between 2006 and 2015, 63% left college with some amount of student loan debt. Of those, 19% say they have delayed starting a business because of their loan debt. That percentage rises to 25% for graduates who left with more than $25,000 in student loan debt. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 16.9 million bachelor's degrees were conferred in the U.S. over the past 10 years -- a time frame that mirrors Gallup-Purdue Index analysis of recent graduates between 2006 and 2015.
I think Gallup could possibly be an avenue to conduct the study / research you mused about. Wonder if they ever will!
My own hypothesis is that most companies are so obsessed with a potential "false positive" hire that they're perfectly okay with not investing in a new graduate. Thus, we have to send out 10+ job applications per week, otherwise we end up as yet another one of the millions of unemployed, college-educated young adults.
It's not totally awful (I found a great job as a result of my career fair), but unless a company is specifically recruiting from your university it's pretty much a given that you won't be offered an interview, let alone a job.
Start off with a basic introduction paragraph or two of what type(s) of positions you are looking for. Followed by a brief summary of the keywords related to the technologies you've used, or are experienced with. Follow this by either eductaion or work history next, whichever is more recent/relevant (if you're still in school, or haven't had a job out of school, education first)... Point out each role, accomplishment and related technology used.
In work history, give a brief paragraph for any major roles/projects again, with any related technologies used. Also include aliases and related technologies.
By doing this, you give up front what you're looking for... what you can use, and then back it up again. Have others who are great with your language proof read and give feedback on verbiage.
Half the battle is getting through the H.R. and recruiter types that hold the gates to the decision makers. The other half is following through with actual relatable experience that you understand, know or can easily learn what you need for the job in question.
Be honest to a fault in terms of what you know, what you don't and what you feel you can learn quickly.
That's my advice to anyone looking for a job in a technical field... You don't necessarily need to customize, but at least have a great resume, that will go a long way getting your foot in the door.
OTOH, my most recent three jobs--including my current one--were all basically through people that I knew.
It always pays dividends to invest in your human network. That applies equally well to college grads as to experienced workers.
Let's say you are unemployed, and living with your parents-- a very common situation for this generation. You're getting bled each month by your student loans, even if you no other bills, which you probably do. The candidate wants to work at any one of those 40 places, because otherwise they go into default and ruin their credit and probably their parents' credit too.
If you don't live at home, the stakes are losing your apartment or car. This isn't some unreasonable fear; bills need to get paid, and there's an entire generation that is struggling to do so because their largest bill just won't go away.
As opposed to what?! Any potential employer will ask you in an interview, "Why are you looking to leave your job so soon?". What are you going to say? "Oh, I'm just trying to find something better." - a surefire way to instill trust in your interviewer and get hired /sarcasm.
In any case, I'm not sure being unemployed is actually that much better.
This sounds like a whole lot of blaming the candidate. It also assumes that the candidate could even land one of those 40 positions in the first place. I applied to a whole lot more before I landed mine - as did most of my peers now in our early-mid 20s who didn't get swooped up in a career fair early on in the process.
You can't really tell me that someone applying for a job _in the first place_ truly wants to work (instead of pursuing a passion they like) period. More likely, the candidate doesn't want(keyword) to work at any of those 40 places at all. And here's the kicker:
The candidate should not be faulted for that if he or she is competent at the job and works hard.
The modern age has shown a lot of workers being faithful to their companies and having that faithfulness be an expected one-way street. Look at the firings of Disney and IBM Engineers. The Disney engineers had to even educate their replacements at reduced salary.
I'd love to be spending all my days producing music and building native iOS apps, but that's not how the world works. So, I work somewhere I tolerate working, somewhere I work well. And I count my blessings for it - not many millennials are as lucky as me.
Nobody jumps from the bottom of the mountain to the top - you climb it one step at a time. There are people making a living producing music and writing apps - the world does work that way. I'm not saying tomorrow you can decide that's how you'll make a living and it'll happen - but it is something you can work towards and achieve in a reasonable amount of time.
Why would you not want to do that instead of a job which you admittedly feel rather "blah" about?
But since you can't know a priori which company hires which way, the solution that people have settled on is to blast out a million resumes and hope that some make it past the keyword matchers and to actual human beings making hiring decisions. That's where the actual match-making takes place. But if you don't send out enough resumes to make it through the arbitrary, unpredictable filtering stage you don't make it to the matchmaking stage which means you're unemployed.
But what has happened is that the companies set up these online systems to ostensibly make their own lives easier. Candidates have responded to the environment that they live in and started resume spamming. Companies respond by using overly-precise keyword matching to filter out candidates, despite the unsuitability.
It's not as though job seekers started printing resumes by the thousands and sticking them to the door of every business in their town and the companies had to adapt to this by making online systems to reduce the crushing influx of paper.
Seriously though, I don't blame the internet or modern interconnected society anywhere. I say that companies should shoulder a larger portion of the blame for creating perverse incentives. Other than that, I'm just trying to describe the world as I see it.
Luddites would smash looms so that they could keep their old jobs; I'm merely suggesting that if companies don't want a million resumes for every open position there are things they could do -- which they are not currently doing -- to help with this.
The problem with email is that it's frictionless. It costs an immeasureably small amount of money to send an email so as long as there are some suckers out there who'll buy your penis pills, sending spam emails is profitable.
Similarly all the friction has been taken out of the "submitting a resume for a job" experience and companies are now getting deluged. That's probably not the optimal outcome for employers or job seekers, but the only people who have any power to change it are the employers. Job seekers don't have any real influence on the systems by which employers choose employees, at least not until they get hired and even then it's just about impossible.
The only knob job seekers have to turn is how many resumes they send out and there's little/no downside to sending out more so it's entirely unsurprising that they choose to do so.
Companies on the other hand have a bunch of knobs they can turn regarding how they accept resumes. They're choosing to turn none of them and dealing with the problem on the back-end (keyword matching) rather than the front-end (increasing friction). This leaves them with a quality problem because people aren't keywords and someone with a year too little of experience X might have more than enough actual skill with the thing you need. It's kind-of foolish to assume people all learn at the same rate, isn't it? But because of the quantity problem that employers have, they can't solve the quality problem because that would cost far, far too much. They'd have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on engineering time to try and find the close-but-not-exact-but-definitely-good-enough needles in the not-close-at-all resume haystack.
This is why various companies have tried all kinds of different recruiting tactics like Google's early days where you had to solve problems from billboards or how a lot of companies want to see your open source work or for you to take a coding quiz. That's solving the problem on the front end.
But for some reason not everyone has picked up on this and out of all the programming jobs in the world maybe only 10% (no idea, it's just a guess) get filled by people who solve the problem on the front end. Everyone else does it on the back end, and their methods for dealing with it that way are not up to the task. This is a well documented phenomena, there are countless articles on the subject.
This is the theory, yes. In practice, that 10x level of effort is not matched by a 10x increase in the number of interested responses or a 10x increase in response rate. Diminishing returns sets in quickly. You wind up with more interested responses by shutgunning your resume all over the place - assuming you have a good resume.
The resume is a single piece of the process. For me to open a resume, first I have to open an email. How long does it take to write a couple sentences to make me want to open your attachment/link?
Then on the resume itself: write a summary. Don't make a recruiter (who 6 months ago was a "struggling unemployed kid who took the first job offered") try to interpret that you are an experienced $LANGUAGE developer with n years of this and that. Come out and tell them exactly what they want/need to know in order to make the decision.
We generally have underqualified people reviewing resumes for companies (agency recruiters, HR, admins at startups). Don't give them an opportunity to mess up. The job says they want a "Python dev with >5 years and some experience with Django"? Tell them exactly that in a sentence in the email, and again as a summary statement on top of the resume.
This isn't 10x effort. It's minimal. It's the hiring company's fault whenever someone qualified doesn't make it into the interview. My philosophy to my resume clients is "don't let HR screw you over - hit them over the head with your qualifications and they can't say no".
And very few of the targeted companies got back to me. I now work at a place that got my generic career fair resume and had a pretty plain "I hear you know how to program?" interview...... Fantastic place though, wouldn't trade it for a 5x pay increase. :)
Having actual paragraphs combined with the keyword jumble goes a long way. You don't have to do excessive customization for each job.
I agree. I'd happily put a nominal fee in escro to ensure that the target company I'm applying to actually looks at the resume. I'd also happily pay the fee for them to drop any job ads that they don't intend to fill.
> Job seekers are much better served spending an hour sending 10 focused applications than spending that same hour to send 100 sanitized applications.
I'm not at all convinced that this is true. The response rate seems completely uncorrelated with the amount of time spent on the application. Even at a lower relative response rate, casting a wider net grabs a larger absolute volume of responses.
As an aside: the biggest thing missing from the job hunt process is respect for your applicants _time_. At this point I drop out with companies that don't seem to consider that. I don't need feedback, but I also don't have time to waste doing repeat phone screens and months of interview process.
Contrast this with applying for a startup where the CTO is reviewing the resumes, and you mention in the body of the application (they don't want a formal cover letter of course) that you've used their API and say something about how easy the experience was. You're getting an interview, unless you are largely unqualified.
I understand your complaints on process, and that's why I only work represent startups and smaller companies that usually let me streamline the process for clearly qualified individuals. I, too, was once frustrated by the process of some of my clients.
And the same problem recruiters have when they don't get responses from potential candidates. If you wonder why you get 50 emails a week on LinkedIn, it's the same thing.
Applicant's who do spend time authoring a well formatted application are seemingly under served by the website-submission process that completely garbles and incorrectly re-formats their applicant documents. Very frustrating and demotivating for the next submitted app. Moreover, they may not even discover that the website ruins their document.
I think there's a disruption opportunity here to provide a HR Applicant Service that doesn't force consumes to blindly copy-paste blobs of text into large free text fields. Just consume and index PDF documents.
Somebody please make a sane recruiting service and sell it to every Bigco.
At the top of the plain text resume include a line stating something like "MS Word/PDF formatted resume available at http://ExternalWebsite..."
I don't know about the US, but at least here those who are out of work and on unemployment benefit (or, here, Job Seekers Allowance) have to "prove to [their] work coach that [they've] been looking for work". From those I know (and these are predominantly STEM people) who've been unable to get work after graduating, spending too much time on one application is considered faffing around—and if your "work coach" thinks you haven't been looking for work hard enough, they can lose their only income. So, what do they do? Apply with 100 sanitised applications, and get rejected everywhere (at the low-end because no service job will hire them because they're viewed as leaving at the first opportunity, and at graduate jobs because they don't have enough work experience).
So, you have a purely random process on both sides that nobody is willing to put in any energy to fix.
Do you think that if companies had 2-4 hr projects for applicants to complete, that there would be a better interview process for both parties?
Let's assume that you have a 1 in 20 chance on the focused applications, and a 1 in 200 chance on the sanitized ones.
Then the odds that you are offered at least one job, is 40.13% for the focused ones, and 39.42% for the sanitized ones.
I'm not sure the emotional investment is enough to justify the difference in likelihood of landing a job.
For example, what if in actuality, all other things being equal, they had a 1 in 10 chance focused vs. 1 in 300 chance sanitized, then the results would be 100% chance for the focused versus 33% chance of a response with the sanitized ones. I just used the same thing you did to make the numbers work the other direction.
For the record, based on what I've seen and read, I do think there might be a case for the shotgunned approach, and I personally have had poor luck with the focused approach. But your numbers don't help prove it, sorry.
10 trials with a 10% success rate yields a 65.13% chance for at least one success.
100 trials with a 0.33% success rate yields a 28.39% chance for at least one success.
You have to use the binomial probability theorem to determine any particular number of hits.
trials! / ( successes! * failures! ) * P_success ^ successes * P_failure ^ failures
Too much academic work or management responsibility, they call you overqualified. To little: they say you aren't trying.
Enthusiastic for a low end job: we shouldn't hire them because their expectations are too high. To low of energy: they aren't the right fit.
This goes on and on and on as hirers act like their individual set of criteria bias are obvious -- likely because the interviewer themselves has limited experience.
Most people do best when they are told what to do in blind situations. Help them out with a few tips on what to expect and I'm guess you'll find much better applicant quality.
A double digit percentage of the resumes I see have spelling and grammatical errors in them. How hard is it to spend a few minutes checking over a document that is pretty key to your career?
Unless you're working in publishing, I'd pay less attention to trivial errors than to evidence of an ability to get useful things done.
People with strong resumes and strong interviewing skills just don't apply and interview all that often.
People who are weak at the resume stage send out a LOT of resumes. People who are weak at interviewing fail to succeed at a lot of interviews.
Therefore, the randomly chosen resume and randomly chosen interview candidate are well below the median of all workers in the field.
To respond more effectively: grim prospects only increase the pool of applicants, and decreases their average desire to do the job you ask for.
I think that's spot on.
That would be because when you're applying to a huge number of jobs per week and get no response for almost all of them, it gets really hard to actually care about any of them.
It is at this point, IMHO, the interviewee should at least pretend to give a shit about the place that has risen above the silence that candidate had heard to date, and opted to spend the time to interview them.
In my last job search, I "applied" (usually emailed a friend) to 10 or so companies, had final interviews with 4, and chose one within a week or two. Contrast that with some of my friends who try to do at least 10 applications a day (yet, predictably, still don't have a job). If you were merely to look at the average quality of applications, it would be way lower than the average quality of applicants.
I was pretty selective as far as finding a job, the interview process reduced the responses to about a third. In the end there were about 3-4 I was interested in, and one of them bumped up the offer to where it was about 20% more than the closest competing offer, so I decided to go with it.
However, I've got about 18-19 years of experience in my field (full stack software development, focusing on web applications), and stronger throughout the stack than most. Many of the positions were labelled "Senior" but the pay, and desired experience, didn't align with that statement in my opinion. It really just depends.
Having a strong resume will go a long way... having a summary statement with your desired position, goals and skills along with technology you are familiar with followed with work/project history reinforcing that experience will go a long way in terms of getting in the door.
I've gotten all of my best (and last few) jobs through connections, fortunately for me, and maybe unfortunately for me giving advice on how to get a job.
I'm specifically in the sysadmin/dba (and a little devops-y) side of things, and less in programming.
In my experience, the main way anyone gets a job is through personal connections. The cover letter and resume are like some weird archaic relic of a bygone era. As a formality, you have to submit them to some online system, but only after you've already interviewed and been offered the job. They're like paper thank-you notes for wedding gifts: The forms must be obeyed.
I actually had one of our devs build in an "email applicant" button so I could quickly email the worst ones and give them some tips.
Because years of HR research has suggested that interviews are a very poor method for determining candidate suitability for a job.