If The Economy is So Strong, Why Can't I Find a Job?

John Krautzel
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Reports of a booming economy and low unemployment rates across the board can be frustrating to job seekers who can't seem to get their slice of that employment pie. As it turns out, however, a strong economy doesn't necessarily translate to better job prospects, especially in a time of changing hiring technology. Here are a few reasons you might be struggling in your job search as well as ideas for overcoming these hurdles.

Statistics Don't Tell the Whole Picture

Sweeping statistical claims about unemployment rates at all-time lows can be deceiving. Take the Seattle metro area, which saw an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent in 2015, according to the Seattle Times. While it is comparatively low, that percentage equates to roughly 64,000 unemployed people. Plus, the unemployment rate doesn't account for those who have stopped searching.

A Strong Economy Spurs Competition

Reports of a strong economy tends to boost confidence among job seekers, leading them to submit more applications. At the same time, unemployed professionals tend to flock to cities with reportedly strong job markets, further increasing competition. In an era of online job postings, job seekers also have to deal with people from other regions competing for the same jobs as them, an issue compounded by the fact that many professionals have begun applying to any opening that may be remotely related to their skill set. As a result, a single opening can receive thousands of applications, making it harder for qualified professionals to get noticed.

Technology and Automation

Increased automation has changed the game for hiring managers seeking talent in a strong economy, but not necessarily in a way that benefits job seekers. Many employers use automated systems that pre-filter applicants and choose potential candidates based on keywords that come up in their resumes. This process often means that professionals with a great work ethic and valuable soft skills simply don't have a chance to shine. On top of this, technical skills are becoming more and more valued, creating a tougher landscape for workers coming from other industries.

Tips for Overcoming Employment Barriers

While the realities that job seekers face even in a strong economy can be disheartening, there are a few ways to beat the odds. First, professionals should customize their resume for each position, adding keywords where relevant and appropriate. While this part of the job search can be time-consuming, it's a solid method for making it past automated filters. Job seekers can also boost their odds by doing what other professionals fear: attending real-life networking events. Building relationships increases your chances of getting a referral, which is much more powerful than a blind application.

Finding lasting employment can be a tough task, even in a strong economy. Luckily, by going the extra mile to make your application stand out, you can be well on your way to landing a job. What are some other ideas for getting noticed in an active job market?


Photo courtesy of Caffe Design at Flickr.com

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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Devaraju.Y. thanks for your comment. We hear this from job seekers all of the time. Usually, when we drill down, we find that the job seeker only applied for a few jobs. The truth is, that finding a job is like having a fulltime job. You need to make sure that you are really spending time searching for and applying to jobs. Following up on the ones you applied for. Networking with former coworkers and friends. Try it out for yourself. When you get up in the morning, get ready, just as if you were going to work. Then sit down at your desk and start your job search. Try this for a week and see if it doesn't help. Other options to consider; finding a recruiter who specializes in our type of work: finding a temp agency and applying through them. It's amazing how many people have gotten fulltime permanent jobs through a temp position. Wishing you all the best.

  • DEVARAJU. Y.
    DEVARAJU. Y.

    Me also facing the same problem that. I have been searching for a job from a long while. I didn't get it. So any suggestions from ur side please.

  • mustapha s.
    mustapha s.

    Indeed it's true that most of we Nigeria's we are poor enough due to the lack of financial and job for creating any business activities..,

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Ralph F. thanks for your comment. So sorry you are going through this. Hopefully you are in the process of finding a job with a company who cares for and appreciates their employees. All the best.

  • Ralph F.
    Ralph F.

    Lobar Abuses Tell you to work Fast or your FIRED

  • Ralph F.
    Ralph F.

    Bad Companies

  • Ralph F.
    Ralph F.

    Bad Employers

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Sabrina B. thanks for your comment. Make sure that you are going into this with the right attitude. Most entry-level positions do not offer great pay which is why they are called "entry" level. Keep that in mind as you are searching for and applying to jobs. As for your resume, there are so many articles here on our network as well as on the Internet to help you create a resume for an entry-level position. I have found an article that really seems to resonate with those seeking entry-level or first time job seekers: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/tips-for-writing-your-first-resume-2058744. Check it out and see if it helps you. Don't forget to view other articles here on our network for even more assistance. All the best.

  • Sabrina B.
    Sabrina B.

    I need an entry-level job, with great pay. What do my resume should have.

  • Johnny  G.
    Johnny G.

    Put customer in something THEY looking for / A unit . They like. Selling is the easy part..

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Robin K. thanks for your comment. Hard to say why. Are you customizing your resume to fit the position? Are you following up on your applications? Are you applying to jobs for which you are qualified? While you are job searching, have you considered taking a refresher course or two? Just to keep your skills up to date? Are you volunteering anywhere? You have to try to keep your resume as current and up-to-date as possible. The interviewer could look at your resume and say I see that your previous employment ended in January but I don't see that you have done anything since that time. The truth of the matter is that hiring companies look for those who are still in a job because they feel that they are the most up to date on skills and qualifications that they are seeking. You have to show that, even though you haven't worked in 9 or 10 months, that you are still current in your skills. I know it's frustrating but that's the crux of it. Have you considered doing temp work while looking for something permanent?

  • Robin K.
    Robin K.

    I have been looking for a job since January 2018 and I haven't been able to find one yet. Any suggestions.

  • Melissa A.
    Melissa A.

    Daniel D., I agree I had my job for almost 25 years and a little after my 50th birthday they let me go. They asked who I thought would be a good replacement for me. Really?

  • Daniel D.
    Daniel D.

    I'm going to mention the elephant in the room - age discrimination. It's no coincidence so many of us looking for work without success are over 50. It's illegal and we all know it's going on, but no one wants to really address the crime.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for your comments. @Janice J - the sad truth is that, if you don't modify your resume to include keywords from a job posting, your resume is never going to see the light of day. Resumes are not viewed by a person as they used to but by a software program called ATS. If you don't score high enough, your resume is either discarded or put into a job bank. Yes things have changed in the world. Yes, execs are doing more of their work than in the past. Technology helps them to save money on hiring since they can do it themselves. In spite of the president's claims, jobs still are not paying a living wage. Companies figure if you don't want the job, someone else will be wiling to take it. In addition, if you take time off from the work world, that will only put you further behind. Yes, if you are not working and it's been awhile, companies think that you are a dinosaur. So, if you can, try to take a refresher course or something like that - for your position - so that they can see that you are keeping up with technology. @Keith Gober - we all feel your pain. Amazon made a big thing about upping the salary to $15/hr but they took away stock options and benefits in the process. Other companies are jumping on Amazon's bandwagon, too. Offering more salary but taking away benefits such as stock options, 401Ks and healthcare. So this way a person is even worse off than before. There are jobs that pay a living wage - keep looking. Also, figure out what you need to live on so that, when you go on a job interview, you will be able to say, with certainty, what your salary needs to be. @Nancy Miranda - so sorry that you are going through this. Not sure who told you that AZ was cheap! I know I certainly couldn't afford it. What you say is so very true. Companies are hiring millennials because they can get them for a cheaper price. But this generation doesn't seem to show much loyalty when it comes to their work. They come in, work for a year or two and then move on and the company is back to where they started or even worse off. No, they haven't seemed to realize this yet. They figure that they can get these young folks for little to no money. Sooner or later they will realize that it's worth it to pay a bit more for experience and real skill sets. Maybe you should consider looking around for a less expensive place to live and look for a position that will pay relocation. Yes, some companies still do that.

  • Nancy Miranda
    Nancy Miranda

    I moved to Arizona almost two years ago from nyc. The job I had in nyc wasn’t paying enough to cover my rent in one paycheck. I applied for an internal opening out here and lucky enough to get the job, however relocation expenses were all on me. While things have been good my job hunting experience has been awful. I’m still at the same job and once they hear my salary they tell me they will call me back. Granted I am making a decent salary I am still way behind from what I was making back in 2009 which was close to $60k a year. What a shame how companies are offering such low salaries to skilled and experienced workers. Hiring a younger generation out of college doesn’t even help a company looking for someone who wants to remain long term. Not gonna happen. So they would rather waste a small salary because in the end once that employee has real world experience they are out hunting for the next job. It’s better to pay what a person is worth instead of taking the ladder trying to save money. I’m taking a pause on my job hunt till next year. Maybe something will turn up but not a 15 or even 18 an hour. Know your worth. Arizona is not as cheap of a living everyone makes it out to be.

  • Keith Gober
    Keith Gober

    Oh there’s a BILLION jobs out there that I probably could have gotten hire for. But they don’t PAY Anything. Certainly not enough to make my bills let alone a living. Which is just as bad as not having a job. I mean if you can’t even pay your bills with what your earning what good is the job?? It’s really getting to me. I know I can’t start off at $100k a year. But $40-$45-$50?? I mean that is Median income. Enough that I can get by on, pay my bills and EAT. Hell at $15 an hour, by the time taxes and insurance and 401k ( at a miserable 1%) is all taken out, there isn’t enough there to make my bills. So what good is it to take that job?? I’m SO STRESSED OUT RIGHT NOW.

  • JANICE J.
    JANICE J.

    I think it's a matter of futility to constantly change one's resume to suit the various jobs listed on the Internet. The sad thing is that the computer industry has eliminated a lot of jobs over the last 20 years. Basic clerical positions have been absorbed. Filing documents is now done on the computer. No longer need filing cabinets! Plus, many high level professionals are independent and do a lot of the duties that secretaries used to do. It's supposed to be a way of saving money for the company. Networking is fine, as long as you network with people working in similar fields as you do or used to do. As for employment agencies, what they don't tell you is that they are in the pockets of employers, not independent as they used to be. Employers will use employment agencies to help them locate people who have the skill sets they are looking for. The days of the employment agencies going the extra mile for applicants are gone. Additionally, if a person has been away from the workplace for a number of years, due to family issues, they will have a hard time being hired because employers will see them as being a dinosaur and not able to keep up with today's high level technology.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Pamela S thanks for your comment. I couldn't agree more. Every time I see the White House touting lower numbers, I just shake my head because I know they aren't real. So very true that the numbers do not include those who have fallen off the rolls - those who have just given up. Then we hear about all of the companies begging for employees. That's just for TV and ratings and to try to boost our Pres. Probably a more accurate unemployment figure would run about 10%. Truthfully, if the unemployment figures were accurate, we wouldn't be here. There wouldn't be any need for any job sites at all. So close your ears to all of that and keep on searching. Wishing you the best on your job search.

  • Pamela S.
    Pamela S.

    I have a real issue with the "unemployment figures" since they do not take into account the people who have fallen off the radar when they are no longer eligible for unemployment. A lot of these people are still looking for work but no one cares to identify these forgotten individuals. For this reason I do not believe the claims of low unemployment or strong economy because they are not the realistic picture.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Angela M thanks for your comments. So sorry that you are going through this. It is truly unfortunate that companies practice this - won't hire unless you are currently working! Very frustrating for sure. Have you exhausted all option? What about agencies? Sometimes it's easier to get a position through an agency or recruiter. Have you maybe tried out all of your local options by going to these places in person? What about reaching out to friends and former coworkers through social media? I know what you are saying about those released from prison as well as those who came to our country due to natural disasters. Companies have guidelines that they have to follow which is hiring so many minorities, former inmates and so on. Back in the days when affirmative action was first passed, companies had no choice but to hire minorities as well as the disabled. We see this all of the time. Think about all of the veterans who are living on the streets because they can't find jobs. The jobs are there. The White House touts this every day - how many job openings there are. So we know they are there. It's just a matter of finding one. Maybe you will have to just put your certification aside for the time being and find a position outside of the medical field. Even something like working in retail if you can find a position like that. Once you are working, then you can start applying to medical positions again. So, again - try to reach out to some agencies. Sometimes it's the best way to get your foot in the door. We wish you all the best. The jobs are there. Keep looking!

  • Angela M.
    Angela M.

    P.S. now I know why people are forced to steal, rob, prositute and sell drugs. Cause only in America do we help people from other countries, before taking care of our own. Even my friend in class just moved from Cuba got a job before me, and Im pretty sure she was getting public assistance cause neither her husband or her were working had 2 kids and only made $30 a week in cuba. So dont tell they moved to Orlando and could afford a place to live without jobs. because me and my husband that was working 70 hrs a week could barely afford our home.

  • Angela M.
    Angela M.

    I am 56 going on 57, retired to early and want to return to work. So I ended up taking a 4 mths course in lab assisting/Phlebotomy even though I had 8 yrs experience doing it as an LPN. When I graduated and got certified last year, 50 Phlebotomist were laid off at Florida Hospitals leaving all these recent working, up to date experienced people to get any jobs that were open. This was last year, I actually left Orlando because of this and the fact that noone wants anyone that hasnt been recently working and did not want any new grads. Though I wouldnt consider me as a new grad only, with all my medical experience I still cant get hired in the position I want. Also I was competing with 20-30 other applicants for the same position. So we moved to a smaller poplulated area, and it seems I am in the same boat as I was in Orlando. I'm ready to just take any job and flush my hard work and certificate down the toilet cause its not getting me anywhere. I know people that were in prison that get help getting jobs and yet I cant because Im old and havent been working recently. Who's going to help me??? My husbands new job doesnt cover me so now I need a job to get medical benefits. Yet we keep helping foreignors that come to this country. We just took in all those people from puerto rico and helped them get housing and jobs and yes I was already living here and noone helped me get a job.

  • Anita Hurley
    Anita Hurley

    I agree! Being new to the job search, I am finding that the competition is fierce and pay rates are low for the level of experience required by hiring companies.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Michael D thanks for your comment. Certainly can understand how you feel. It is true that they might be cutting out some of the best and brightest by using ATS. That just means that the best and brightest need to take the time to tailor their resume to fit the position so that they make it through ATS and get at least an initial screening call. It's not laziness on the part of these companies who use ATS - it's survival. Even today, with the low unemployment rate, companies are still inundated with thousands of resumes for each position. It's not possible for an HR department to go through thousands of resumes by hand which is why the ATS has become so important. And it's not going anywhere soon. The downfall is when the applicant creates one resume and expects it to work for every position to which they apply. Not happening. The laziness, in many cases, is on the part of the job seeker. Then they wonder why they never hear anything back from a company. So this is a two-way street. The job applicant needs to ensure that they send the best possible resume for the position and the HR needs to be prepared to manually sift through the resumes that made it through the ATS. A brave new world out there when it comes to finding a job.

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