Why the Job Market and Job Search Is Broken

In 2007 Ben Yoskovitz was involved in the job market, and he wrote a post titled 9 Signs the Online Job Market is Broken. His 9 reasons are below, click to his page and see his reasoning as well as over 60 comments.  Not much has changed.

When people ask me about the broken job search, job market, dumb interviewing and hiring practices, etc., I have one answer: it is broken because it’s all based on people.  People who, by nature, are flawed.  We hire the person with the better smile, or the right skin color, or the person who dressed “better” (whatever that means), or the person who is more like us (in age, religion, etc.).  We aren’t supposed to discriminate, but we do.  As long as there are people involved, it will be flawed. It will be unfair.  It will be unpredictable.  And sometimes, it just won’t make sense.

I’m not suggesting that we should get people out of it, and have applicant tracking systems and artificial intelligence take over. We’ve already seen how messed up that is.  All I’m saying is that these processes will always seem broken, because they are, and it’s all due to our flawed human nature.  Even people with the best intentions will make mistakes.

So that’s my answer.  Here are Ben’s 9 reasons, with my commentary:

  1. Companies can’t differentiate themselves. Ben’s company (now defunct, he’s moved on) was about employer branding…. so that explains #1 here.  But there are consultants around the world helping companies stand out… still an issue, but not sure if that’s why the job market is broken.
  2. Job sites like Monster.com are loaded with too much spam. Yup, not much has changed.  Although, people do get hired from monster and other job boards. Realize that there are different reasons for fake job postings on job boards… none of them help the job seeker.
  3. Jobster.com now offers free job postings.  Jobster went the way of the dodo bird, but the message here was that free meant more spam and junk and phishing.
  4. Niche job boards don’t offer enough. I think niche is a good idea, and a good response to the one-size-fits-all that isn’t working.
  5. The best candidates aren’t surfing job sites looking for work.  I absolutely, 1,000% disagree with this.  The premise, and what Ben says, is “The top talent doesn’t spend time surfing job websites for fun. They’ve already got jobs. They’re busy.”  This, my friends, is discrimination and ignorance. Sorry. I meet many highly talented people when I speak, and through JibberJobber, who are “best candidates.”  They might be overlooked because they are “overqualified,” or because their resume wasn’t targeted enough to pass through the ATS, or because a hiring manager is intimidated by them, or because of crazy industry or market circumstances… the employed are not necessarily the best, and the unemployed aren’t necessarily the worst.  Ben continues: “And even if they find themselves unemployed, you can be sure they don’t spend much time surfing for work. They know how to stand out, and they’re busy making that clear through referrals and their network of contacts.” Sorry, but this is also flawed.  What about the “best candidate” who has been working, heads down, for 30 years? He’s an expert in his field, but not an expert in networking or job search? Just because a person knows how to stand out, and work referrals, and network, does not mean they are the best candidate… it just means they are a really good job seeker.
  6. It’s too easy for candidates to apply.  Yes, it’s ridiculously hard for people to apply for jobs.
  7. It’s too hard for employers to assess talent. I agree… employers are not necessarily trained to assess talent (unless that is their job, but many hiring managers aren’t trained deep enough, so they default to discriminatory thoughts, like “do I like this person, or are they too different from me?”). Again, the human issue.
  8. Companies use the services because they’re there, not because they work. Agreed.
  9. Lots of money and time is going into the online job market space.  Yes, but that isn’t  a reason why the job market is broken.

My purpose of sharing Ben’s post wasn’t to disparage his writing and opinion, but to show that 10 years ago there were problems, and frustrations, and today there are still problems and frustrations.  I don’t see that changing any time soon. I don’t think it will ever change.

I hope this gives you a different insight into why things are so hard, as a job seeker. Here’s my parting though: if it is so bad because of human nature, what could YOU do to make it better (as a job seeker)?  There’s actually a pretty good answer to that question.

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