January 10, 2012
Employers, candidates playing hide-and-seek
Picture, if you will, a world in which every employer with a hiring need was instantly matched up with a job hunter able to offer the perfect solution. Sounds like a nice place, doesn't it?
Unfortunately, in the real world, this will never, ever happen. In fact, according to basic economic theory, the utopian scenario outlined above (which can be applied to any market, employment or otherwise) is theoretically impossible.
Such a market, where the supply of a product or service perfectly matches the demand, would be said to have "equilibrium." According to numerous sources, among them Investopedia.com, "equilibrium (in a marketplace) can only ever be reached in theory, so the prices of goods and services are constantly changing in relation to fluctuations in demand and supply."
Geek-speak aside for a second, what I'm trying to convey is my amazement that at a time when millions of Americans are out of work, there are still employers expressing tremendous frustration at not being able to find suitable candidates for jobs they have available. We're not talking about companies seeking rocket scientists or specialized medical practitioners, either. I've observed this phenomenon taking place with extremely mainstream jobs, as well.
In just the past week, for example, I've had two executives seek me out to see if I could offer any additional suggestions on how they could turn up some good candidates for positions they are seeking to fill.
One of them, the CEO of a local manufacturing company, is on the lookout for a mechanical engineer to do some equipment design and project management work. At first, I thought he must just be overly picky about the qualifications he was seeking in a candidate. After reading the job description he passed along, however, there didn't seem to be anything all that exotic about what was being requested, aside from the requirement that applicants know how to use SolidWorks software. And that is a fairly mainstream technology, I believe, based on what I've witnessed in the engineering sector.
In yet another instance, the COO of a marketing firm contacted me in frustration. He'd advertised a lead for a director of sales in several places throughout December, and has to date received only nine -- count 'em, nine -- resume submissions. What's more, when he let me peek through the stack of applications received, it was clear that the majority of them weren't even close to qualified for the role in question, but were simply sending in their credentials on a wing and prayer, possibly just to fulfill their unemployment insurance requirements.
Again, the thought that there are employers out there wringing their hands over not being able to find folks to hire, at a time when there are so many unemployed folks on the hunt, simply underscores what economists have been telling us for years. Markets are flawed. They're inefficient. And the laws of supply and demand never work in perfect unison.
While it's possible that the two situations I highlighted above are exceptions to the rule, for whatever reason, these are far from the only times when I've been contacted by employers who seem to be having an awfully hard time finding the talent they seek.
So in any given city, of any reasonable size, it's a safe bet you'll find thousands of employers with hiring needs, as well as thousands of professionals available for work. Lest there be any confusion on this score, yes, more "demand" in the form of new jobs would unquestionably improve matters immensely. But a certain percentage of our unemployment problem is also due to the two parties in question, employers and potential employees, simply wrestling with the challenge of finding each other.
As a job hunter, therefore, never forget that an appropriate assignment for you could easily exist out there, just around the corner. You just have to keep methodically looking for it. For all we know, there's a frustrated employer just down the street casting around in frustration trying to find someone like you.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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