Disconnect Between Job Seeker and Employer Expectations

Today, TalentDrive, an online resume aggregation search engine, released the results from its “Job Market Perceptions” survey. The findings uncover a widening gap between current employers’ expectations and job seekers’ actual skill sets. The survey was conducted to get a better understanding of current job seekers’ perceptions of their own skill sets compared to expectations held by hiring managers. Are candidates’ skills and employer requirements aligned? Results uncover key “skill gaps” between the two groups.

79,000 job seekers (86% considered to be actively seeking employment) were asked to assess their personal skill set and attitude toward the current job market. The results:

  • 71% were pessimistic about their career search, feeling they possessed the required skill set but were not getting hired
  • 37% were extremely frustrated, with no hope for improvement in sight
  • 34% unhappy with the environment, but starting to see signs of improvement

Employers were then asked if they had noticed a change in the quality of candidates since the recession’s start. The results: 42% of employers indicated that the recession had not only increased the quantity of candidates, but in fact they are finding more qualified candidates than in years past. These two results seem to contradict one another…

Taking into consideration the possibility that job seekers were not interviewing, it was surprising to see that 73% of those surveyed have had five or more interviews per month since beginning their job search. 75% of these job seekers have not received a single job offer.

Some things for consideration:

  • Poor interviewing skills – perhaps candidates need more education on how to properly present their skills on an interview. This is something at which we, as recruitment professionals, and dare I say candidate coaches, should all be proficient.
  • Desperate times – often when a candidate needs a job, this can come across in an interview and make them seem desperate. This, again, something that we can, and should, coach them on.
  • Specialized vs. Broad skill set – 71 % of employers reported that more than half of their open positions were “specialized”. 61% of respondents consider themselves to be a “professional with a broad skill set” as opposed to specialized in their field.

The odd portrait this paints is one of a happy employer, who is starting to see hiring picking back up, and an unhappy job seeker, who has been on several interviews without receiving any job offers. One could conclude that at this point in time that specialization in a skill is more important than generalization for interviewing for and being offered a job.

The second section of the survey drilled down to see how employers were finding candidates. Were candidates putting themselves in the right places for employers to find them and vice versa? Finally, the two groups were in agreement.

Online sources led the pack for both job seekers and employers:

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  • 74% of job seekers said the most beneficial job search method was posting a resume on job boards
  • 27% believe that utilizing social media is best, surpassing more traditional methods including classified ads, professional recruiters and networking events

27% of employers agree, with the highest response for most effective search method being social networks, followed by resume sourcing technologies.

In summary, the survey found these key take-aways:

  • 71% of employers say that more than half of their open positions are “specialized”
  • 61% of job seekers surveyed consider themselves to have a “broad skill-set” rather than “specialized in their field”
  • 73% of job seekers have had more than 5 interviews per month since starting their job search, with over 75% receiving zero offers
  • Most effective hiring tool—Social Media sites according to both job seekers and employers

20,000 Hiring Managers from F1000 Companies and 79,000 Job Seekers received the survey. This survey was conducted online between June 15th, 2010 and July 15th, 2010.

I  find it interesting that job seekers now believe that surfing social networks and other passive job search activities  are better methods than utilizing professional recruiters, career coaches, or attending in-person networking events. If these are the most effective tools as declared by both parties, why is there still such a big disconnect? An ironic observation when looking back through the survey results. Perhaps job seekers have become arrogant in their search efforts, thinking that no external input or coaching is needed. What do you think? Share your thoughts on these findings below.

Amybeth Quinn began her career in sourcing working within the agency world as an Internet Researcher. Since 2002, she has worked in both agency and corporate sourcing and recruiting roles as both individual contributor and manager, and also served previously as the editor of The Fordyce Letter, FordyceLetter.com and SourceCon.com, with ERE Media. These days she's working on some super cool market intelligence and data analytics projects. You can connect with her on Twitter at @researchgoddess.

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7 Comments on “Disconnect Between Job Seeker and Employer Expectations

  1. It could also be that there are unrealistic expectations on the part of the employers. Wanting very specific combination of skills that only 5 people in the country possess is one example. The other reason is the expectation on the employer’s part that because there is high unemployment, they can low ball offers to people. The salary issue comes up during the interview process and because the range is much different than the candidates last position, there is never an offer made.

    Obviously, your conclusions are also valid. The problem is getting the two sides to look at the same picture and not have one describe what they are seeing as a horse and the other one say no, it’s an apple.

  2. I’ve seen the same thing. I’ve completed ill advised searches for highly specialized skills only to have the employer low-ball them because “there is a recession.”

    Also employers ask me to give preference to employed candidates who, if they are relatively happy at their current job, will not take a cut in salary no matter what the salary guides dictate.

    Most unemployed candidates are not aware the price of their services has dropped. I’ve never seen anyone do salary research for their own job. Does HR try to negotiate or simply drop the candidate if their number is high?

    Yes, it’s getting both sides to see the same thing. If an employer wants highly specialized or currently employed then they will have pay the going rate. If a generalist wants to change jobs they will have to accept the going rate.

    Supply and demand. This is what you get when everyone sleeps through their economics class.

    Also the numbers about social media seem squishy. While a new channel of communication has been added a more telling number would be the percentage of applicants who were actually hired compared to all the other channels. In other words is social media changing the dynamics of recruiting or have they just replaced newspaper ads and the Rolodex?

  3. I enjoyed the article and the comments. I am sort of on both sides of the fence. I am a TPR for a wonderful company; however, I had challenges as a TPR working with a couple of groups group as the requirements for employers were and probably still are not logical. They were asking for mostly impossible requirements (at best they narrowed the pool considerably based on their requests). But what happens when you get the employer what he/she is looking for and they add something else and when you get that taken care of they add something else to disqualify your candidate (yes it happened/happens). In my own search I did get three offers which were all put on hold, and after that my time span for being unemployed had surpassed what employers would even consider. This is why many of the job seekers are giving up or feel like giving up. It is very disheartening to know you have the skills and knowledge for a job and you are not getting offers. I think without my current client I probably would have given up. I will be happy when employers start back hiring more qualified and deserving people. I think that with the recession and outsourcing overseas we have a real challenge on our hands. I say if employers are low balling people (and I know they are) job seekers need to look at the figure and decide whether they can live with the offer (can we still go to that job and be ok with what we are earning). If they can great and if not keep looking until you find something you can live with.

  4. I enjoyed the article and the comments. I am sort of on both sides of the fence. I am a TPR for a wonderful company; however, I had challenges as a TPR working with a couple of groups as the requirements for employers were and probably still are not logical. They were asking for mostly impossible requirements (at best they narrowed the pool considerably based on their requests). But what happens when you get the employer what he/she is looking for and they add something else and when you get that taken care of they add something else to disqualify your candidate (yes it happened/happens). In my own search I did get three offers which were all put on hold, and after that my time span for being unemployed had surpassed what employers would even consider. This is why many of the job seekers are giving up or feel like giving up. It is very disheartening to know you have the skills and knowledge for a job and you are not getting offers. I think without my current client I probably would have given up. I will be happy when employers start back hiring more qualified and deserving people. I think that with the recession and outsourcing overseas we have a real challenge on our hands. I say if employers are low balling people (and I know they are) job seekers need to look at the figure and decide whether they can live with the offer (can we still go to that job and be ok with what we are earning). If they can great and if not keep looking until you find something you can live with.

  5. This is a very good article, and I find the comments insightful as well.

    As a career counselor, I agree that few candidates practice interview skills and even fewer are aware of their current market value. Employers are thrilled to have so many highly skilled job seekers who are so desperate. They low-ball applicants, and since the applicants haven’t done research and practice on salary and negotiation, they get insulted or price themselves out of the range for consideration.

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