As I have been observing the current employment picture over the past few years, certain dynamics capture my attention:

1—Many workers can’t find jobs while many companies can’t find workers.  Why the mismatch?  Perhaps companies are being too picky.  About half of US employers are having trouble locating the right people for their current openings.  Much of this and more is addressed in Peter Cappelli’s new book, Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs.  Cappelli explains, “for every story about an employer who can’t find qualified applicants, there’s a counterbalancing tale about an employer with ridiculous hiring requirements.”  To make matters worse, as Cappelli affirms, the online process is often overly rigid, thereby disqualifying innumerable valid candidates to everyone’s dismay.

2—The online world is good and bad.  Some people cannot find jobs because their job-search skills are too 20th century.  They think if they look in the newspaper’s Help Wanted section, they will find a job.  First, many employers no longer use traditional newspaper advertising for open positions.  Second, many people remain computer illiterate.  This sets the stage for a major disconnect.

3—Computerization and technology have affected even the most manual of jobs.  A strong back is no longer the ticket to a blue collar job.  Workers must often have highly technical computer skills to manage the technology embodied in modern manufacturing, warehousing, shipping, and servicing processes.

4—The situation will likely get worse before it gets better.  Although I remain an optimist, I am a trends reader.  The trends tell me we will remain in tumultuous times for a while.  Too many bodies are in motion and technology is constantly changing.  Demographics do not die; they play out to their ends.  Yes, I believe the employment picture will eventually significantly improve.  Any individual’s experience of that will of course vary widely.

5—Networking remains the most profitable path to a new job.  Regardless of how well the worker executes all other aspects of the job search, networking should never be neglected.  Many a job seeker became a happy worker because of just one associate or friend who said, “Oh, I know someone in that department.  Let me pass along your name.”

Conclusion—Getting a job is hard!  Nevertheless, job seekers can still do some things to conduct their searches intelligently.  Pay attention to the trends.  Stay sharp with the online dynamics.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, never stop believing things will get better.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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