Why Is It So Hard to Get A Job When Unemployment is so Low and Everybody Hiring?

iStockphoto.com |  artisteer

iStockphoto.com | artisteer

We’ve all heard about the great economy. Unemployment is at a very low 3.7%, and companies are rolling out the red carpet for quality talent. So why does it seem that it’s just as difficult as ever to find a job (Yes, Job Hunting is Really, Really, Hard)? The answer is simple – because it is.

People are still having a hard time being noticed, and breaking through the layers of obstacles that are posited between their resume and a person. What’s going on?

  • Let’s start with the worst news. Issues like ageism and discrimination don’t take a break because people are hiring. It doesn’t matter if there are several available jobs for each applicant, the invisible woe that affects so many job seekers will find a way to creep in.

  • Companies have invested time and resources into increasingly sophisticated recruitment technology (applicant tracking systems, or ATS’s) to find top talent. While this helps recruiters by using search engines and other tools to minimize the number of resumes they need to review, that means there’s less overall candidates being looked at. If anything, these digital gatekeepers have become even more complex and impenetrable.

  •  Hiring practices may not have adjusted to the new reality of the current job market. Some companies may still be in a “recession mindset,” and are not acting quickly on qualified candidates, or are looking to snag an exceptional individual for a rock-bottom salary. The best people will be hired by employers with a more nimble and current hiring philosophy.

  •  As companies invest more and more into automated systems, insufficient effort is put into the overall candidate experience. Companies that are consistently voted the best places to work are those with candidate-centric recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding processes. But unless a dictate to make the experience more candidate-friendly comes down from the top, it won’t happen.

  •  Not everyone’s job skills are current. You can’t successfully employ Y2K job searching techniques in 2019. There’s more automation, more stakeholders in the process, more cross-functional interviewing, jobs are all found online (versus in the newspaper), and an increased focus on soft skills. As hiring modes of thinking evolve, and technological obstacles such as ATS’s remain in place, it’s essential for today’ job seeker to understand the changes to the way the hiring process works, and adapt. Not to mention, more and more recruiting activity has migrated to LinkedIn – if you don’t have a great profile, you may not be found by employers.


Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

How Do I Ask My Boss For A Raise?

iStockphoto.com |  ramihalim

iStockphoto.com | ramihalim

It’s a job seekers’ market, and companies are offering more money to attract top talent. Sometimes it makes sense to jump jobs when the price is right.

However, your work life is comprised of a lot more than just salary. Perhaps you’ve done an assessment and determined that you are happy with what you are doing, where you are, and the people you work with.

And yet, with the market hot, you still find yourself fantasizing about what you would do with all that extra money you’d get from jumping employers. If you’ve been a high performer, the demand for your skills is strong, or you believe you’ve been underpaid relative to the market, you may find yourself in a situation where you’d like to ask your current employer for a raise.

If and when you decide to ask your boss for an increase in pay, it’s important to approach the situation with both a plan and a healthy dose of emotional intelligence.

  • Proceed with caution. Be forewarned – money is one of the most sensitive topics you can surface at work. Try to put yourself in your boss’s shoes: presuming he or she agrees that you deserve a raise, you’re putting them into a situation where they have to advocate for you and sell the idea of giving you more money up the leadership chain of command. And so much is at stake within a company when it comes to compensation – internal equity, market competitiveness, and employee engagement. You’re entering tricky territory.

  • Get the data. If you simply tell your manager you want more money or you’re going to walk, it will be a short and ineffective conversation. You’ll need to provide as many reasons as possible to advocate for you. How have you earned that raise? How have you added value? Provide as many metrics as possible, have salary data relevant to your region and profile (Paysa.com is a great tool), and have ready those glowing performance reviews from the past year.

  • Try to bring it up during your organization’s regular compensation cycle. Many companies have annual performance reviews tied to wage increases. Regular compensation cycles are the most advantageous time to ask for a raise because your pay already on the agenda. If you plan on campaigning for a raise greater than your company’s “standard” increase, read on.

  • Asking for a raise “out-of-cycle,” is a little trickier. There are many reasons you might consider asking for a raise outside the normal review cycle – perhaps you’ve learned that people doing the same work are paid more, or maybe you just landed an amazing account that’s bringing in a substantial share of new business, or you’ve benchmarked your salary and you’re being paid below market. Since your out-of-cycle request for a raise will most likely be unexpected, plan your approach with extreme care; your manager will not be anticipating the conversation, and the work involved in making these types of things happen outside the normal schedule.

  • Request private time with your manger. Time to make the move. Be careful how you ask for this time. Try and choose a relaxed environment at a low-pressure time. Frame the request as a discussion about career or personal development, not money!  

  • Read the room. This is where the emotional intelligence comes into the equation. Be sensitive as to timing and approach; asking for a raise during layoffs or some other time when you perceive you have additional leverage may get you something in the short term, but could be absolutely detrimental in the long term. Likewise, there are many political and operational sensitivities regarding handling your request. A great deal of time, effort, and influence will be required to be exerted on your behalf in order to explore – much less fulfill – your request.

  • Prepare to go through an impromptu job performance appraisal. You want more money? Prove you deserve it by providing the data to show that you deserve it. And be prepared for feedback you may not like – for all you know, your manager may be unhappy with your job performance and your request will provide the perfect opportunity to discuss it.

  • Lay out your case. The best approach is a collaborative one. Whatever you do, do not come across as disgruntled, or entitled. Share the data you’ve gathered that supports your case. Express that you love working there, and that you look forward to helping the company achieve its strategy. And if you’re shot down, listen to the feedback and understand why it’s being shared. There may be valid reasons as to why the company can’t meet your request. You may learn useful, actionable feedback that can help you grow and develop.


Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

Should I Jump Jobs For More Money?

iStockphoto.com |  macro frog insect animal

iStockphoto.com | macro frog insect animal

A recent Bloomberg article on the labor market, “Job Switchers in U.S. Tech, Construction, Are Getting the Biggest Raises,” (07/24/19) showed that in the month of June people who switched jobs averaged wage growth of 5.3%, with the sector technology clocking in at 9.7% wage growth. Wow!

With low unemployment, the current labor market has tilted in favor of the employee. In short, the job market is hot. Companies are trying harder to attract workers, so now seems like the right time to jump jobs before the global economy slows down and the labor market contracts.

So, let’s say you’ve got a job offer on your desk, and it includes a hefty increase in salary over what your current company pays. How do you evaluate whether to consider new opportunities based on money?

  • You need to ask yourself – “Is the grass actually greener?” Offering more money than what you’re making now is one of the easiest ways a company can attract attention. An employer will conduct cost/benefit analysis of what can be offered to prospective employees, and based on those budgets they It’s an effective lever, and that is why there is greater wage growth at bigger companies (who have deeper pockets) than at smaller ones – they have the resources to offer more. However, salary is only one component of a compensation package. Do your own cost-benefit analysis. It may or may not be worth it.

  • Remember those numbers from the article – 5.3% (average) and 9.7% (tech) wage growth? If you have a salary of $65,000 your 5.3% increase would be to $68,500, or an increase of $3,500. A 9.7% increase would total $71,300, or an increase of $6,300! That’s not a terrible place to start. But there may be hidden pitfalls. A salary increase may put you in a higher tax range, or there may be employee benefits you have now, like a 401(K), that are not offered in the new job. Run the numbers.

  • More money does not make a job better, nor does it automatically make your quality of your life better. As you look at other opportunities, really examine all the facets of the job. Simple factors like commuting distance, transportation, parking, and daycare can easily offset some of the financial gains.

  • Assess the risk. Jumping from one job to another is a risk every time. If you switch jobs too often, it may have a boomerang effect as potential employers may (fairly or unfairly) question whether you’ll stick around or leave as soon as somebody offers you even more money. And try to remember – company loyalty to employees is as much a thing of the past as Julius Caesar; all too often, excited new hires can end up in the unemployment line months after their start date when a corporate buyout or layoff occurs.

  • You've run the numbers, assessed the risks of the new company, and the jump still looks good. Now do the same for your current situation. Ask yourself, “Am I happy in this job?” What would you be leaving behind? Pension? Benefits? Growth opportunities? A promotion? Co-workers with whom you’ve become friends?  Run it through all the quadrants, so to speak, and come up with your “true value” of staying and your “true cost” of leaving.

  • Corporate culture. This is the all-important wild card. If you have “found your people,” that is much bigger than dollars and cents. If you are happy where you are, and why you are there, your unique “fit” with a company may be worth way more than a few thousand dollars. Especially if your new employer has a reputation for being a “challenging” environment.


Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.