Why Can’t You Find a Job?
By Scott Albert, The Albert Institute

In the 1960s, psychologist H.R. Sheppard led a study wherein people were asked how they had gotten their jobs. The results: 66% of the job leads had come from friends, relatives and acquaintances. Few of the job leads came through traditional job search methods as only 2% came from private employment agencies, 8% from state employment agencies, and only 5% from Help Wanted ads. Comparatively, recent Department of Labor reports indicate that approximately 66% of job seekers find their job through a word-of-mouth referral while just 5% from Help Wanted ads. Surprisingly, just 1% of jobs are found as a result of online job boards. In short, little has changed in 50+ years.

This data contradicts tradition job search methods, but it all really makes sense when closely analyzed. Most job seekers, these days, turn first to the Internet for their job search; the second most popular method remains the Help Wanted ads from newspapers and related periodicals. The competition is fierce. Help Wanted ads, be they from the Internet or newspaper, generate thousands of responses from job seekers. If a local cable company runs an ad Now Hiring Customer Service Representatives, that cable company is likely to receive over 1000 resumes. The individual applicant has very little chance of just getting an interview due to the sheer volume of applications. Plus, only about 10% of employers advertise jobs through Help Wanted ads. The greatest majority of job seekers end up applying to the smallest percentage of employers.

Successful job seekers understand two things: 1.) Job seekers must uncover what is known as The Hidden Job Market; 2.) Job seekers must network to generate employment opportunities.

The majority of the nation’s job market is a Hidden Job Market. Political candidates will often refer to small businesses as the nation’s job creators, and it is true. Small to mid-sized businesses are hiring every day. These same businesses, however, do not have the resources for traditional Held Wanted advertisements. First, there is a great cost associated with print advertisement, so most small businesses will not even consider a newspaper Held Wanted ad. Second, many small businesses do not have an HR department or recruiters, so the ability to respond to a great number of applicants is unrealistic. These companies still need to hire. Some will put a Now Hiring sign in their front window. Most will end up hiring someone they already know or someone who is referred by a trusted colleague.

It is imperative that job seekers uncover these opportunities. There are two methods that seem to work for job seekers. Door-to-door is a great way to generate leads and uncover information. This requires a lot of footwork, but often pays dividends for those job seekers who are willing to pound the pavement. More often, job seekers uncover opportunities by meeting with and talking with the people they already know. Friends, relatives, neighbors and other personal contacts are an excellent starting point. Successful job seekers also network with those people they do business with – teachers, former colleagues, customers and the like. Many job seekers will take advantage of opportunistic networking moments such as an opportunity to discuss work at a party, meeting or other event. Those who are most likely to uncover the next great job are those who are proactive in their networking efforts.

There are plenty of networking outlets for those who are not sure where to begin. The Department of Labor currently reports the existence of more than 10,000 Job Clubs in The United States. Job Clubs are weekly meetings wherein job seekers share leads, learn from guest speakers and support one another during the job search process. Social Media also provides outlets to connect with former co-workers, friends and others who may know about new employment opportunities. At a minimum, job seekers can sign up for a free LinkedIn account, create a profile on LinkedIn and begin to connect with colleagues who may know about a job that would otherwise go unadvertised.

Nobody looking for a job should totally abandon the Internet or the local newspaper, but job seekers should consider these as sources of information. Sitting behind a computer and filling out online job applications often leaves job seekers frustrated, waiting for a call or interview. Successful job seekers take every lead and discuss those leads with their network in the hope of generating a contact or word-of-mouth referral. The data does not lie. And, remember, the closed mouth does not get fed. Job seekers need to let people know when they are looking for a job; otherwise, how would anyone know to help?