Today’s employment report was encouraging and yet, discussion after discussion continues to reveal the problem of matching up skill sets and the right fit with currently open positions. This problem is amplified by technology, the economics of downsizing (particularly human resources and the use of professional external recruiters), and an overall shift of the burden being on the job seeker, not the organization looking to fill a position.
It is well documented that technology has fomented the flood of applicant mismatches and in some cases, the ease of applying simply to fulfill the “searching for a job” expectation of unemployment benefits. This of course creates an insufferable morass of material for those responsible of recruiting to sift through on a first pass. There is also the ridiculous advice where applicants wind up “keyword dumping” in their resumes to make sure they show up in a search. Obviously, some keywords are relevant. But a system that filters applicants using a machine and algorithms is inherently flawed. The next problem is one we are all are aware of: the reduction of human resources and particularly, professional recruiters were actually skilled in matching applicants with an organization’s needs. This leaves today’s job seeker in the throes of what Peter Drucker warned of decades ago, namely, that there is virtually no organizational support that can be counted on in terms of a career path. More than ever before, it is up to the individual to take charge of their own future.
As I have discussed this dilemma with many people for all different backgrounds, some of the most profound observations regarding what is required of today’s job seekers have come from those who have enjoyed the benefits of the golden age of the industrial era. In other words, many retirees now in their sixties and seventies, not burdened with the daily grind have time to read, discuss and reflect on the contrast of todays job market with what they experienced in the past. They see the contrast (and struggle among many) between the present and the past and see very clearly that the dynamics of today’s employee are radically and essentially different from everything they experienced in the last forty years. Here are three suggestions to ponder on this topic. I have found them to be recurring themes (but certainly not limited to) what is required of today’s job seeker and those who will advance in their careers: accept uncertainty, continuously improve your own flexibility, and, be prepared to take an aggressive, assertive role in your own future.