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When the Job Search Seems Unfair

Q. I have been out of work for almost four months and at least 30 recruiters have contacted me and promised the world, but I still don't have a job. Why do employers put a job out there and then say they are on a hiring freeze? That Is like pulling the rug out from under you. You are pumped up about a job and they cancel it, that does not seen fair. I want to work and my friends who have jobs don't. Employers I hope you read this and rethink your strategy; and no, I do not want a job in sales.

A. The job search can be a frustrating time and its impact is showing in your question. Taking a hard look at your interactions and how the players in a job search work may provide you with more insight. You are looking at the process from your vantage point, which makes sense. However, gaining perspective about what motivates and stalls recruiters, hiring managers and companies may help you understand and ease your frustration.

Recruiters do not work for you, they are hired by a company to find it the ideal candidate (ideal for the company.) Recruiters are paid by the company, not by you. Many job seekers have unrealistic expectations of recruiters. If you have been contacted by 30 recruiters, that is great! It means your resume is attention grabbing and your skills are of interest. These recruiters believe they can “place” you by getting you interviews with a potential employer.

Recruiters want to sell you on the value of the job they have to make sure you are interested and would take the job if it was offered ;that is how they get paid. They are motivated to see a person they present get hired. To work well with recruiters, ask if they think they have opportunities you are suited for. Ask how often you should touch base with them, or when you can expect to hear back from them. You need to sell them on what it is you have to offer an employer. Again, they do not work for you. If they believe they can make a fee by getting you in front of an employer who wants your skills, they will find you. If they cannot match you to an employer, they will not be in touch because they will not get paid. You should expect them to be honest with you and deliver what they promise.

Employers put jobs out there and then have a hiring freeze because circumstances change. The economy changes, business direction changes, leaders change and where there had been the chance to add to headcount, the chance is now frozen. It may be forever and the position is eliminated, or it may be until business situations are smoothed out. Most hiring managers and Human Resources staff hate hiring freezes. They know there is a business need and they may have been actively recruiting for the role.

As for your friends, the grass is always greener. Being unemployed may look great with time off and limited stress, but no income and the challenge of the job search process far outweigh the positives, and quickly. You need to look at your friends as field sales people for your job search. Do their employers have opportunities? Often companies offer referral bonuses to current employees who recommend people who are hired.

Don’t overlook all sales opportunities. Explore them to find out if you have an interest in the company, and what the career path is. Not all opportunities are the same.

This process may take you another four months or more, and you need to re-frame your view. Explore the companies you want to invest in, with more than a few dollars – with your career. Have you expanded your network significantly? Will you come away knowing who the best recruiters are in your industry? Will you belong to the best professional association for your functional area? Have you spent time learning more about where you field is going through research and additional education? Being positive isn’t always easy, but more people want to be around you and talk to you. The more of the activity that happens, the sooner you will be employed.

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