When I'm with human resource professionals, I hear — despite the mounting unemployment rate and job eliminations — that they're having trouble filling current needs. • Apparently, the 7.2 percent of the labor force who are out of work and looking to become re-employed aren't what employers need.
Or it could be that the old saw reigns: You'll hear again and again from recruiters that someone is more employable when they're working than when they're not.
That's sand in the wounds of many fine, but currently unemployed, job hunters who lost jobs through no performance fault of their own. Unfortunately, there's usually a first-glance suspicion that joblessness is the worker's fault.
Many of the job hunters I meet understand that. They desperately want the opportunity to make their case. But they can't get that far.
Today's hiring systems in many of the big companies have become impersonal, computer-based filtering systems. The biggest complaint I hear from job hunters is that applying for jobs is like sending their resumes into black holes.
They don't hear back.
One job hunter, Jackson Bonar, wrote me with this complaint. Bonar, who describes himself as having a 15-plus-year career in marketing, advertising and public relations, wrote:
"Being in upper management the majority of my career and perusing resumes forwarded to me by my human resources departments, I never followed up with my HR department on what they were doing to inform applicants they were not suitable or not being considered for a position. Even those that made it to an interview, I was negligent (in) informing them of their status through the process. . . ."
Bonar sees things differently now.
"I have sent out numerous resumes via e-mail, regular mail, and even hand-delivered, only to hear nothing, nada, not one word. I find an opportunity I am interested in, only to be lost in a total black hole, not ever knowing what happened with the opportunity or why I was not considered . . .
"I have been on interviews and checked back with the employer at their request, to have my phone call unreturned, e-mails unanswered, no letter of 'rejection,' never knowing what happened or why."
Just once, Bonar said, he received a note, which looked like a form letter but was signed by a human resources director, saying the company had hired someone who more closely fit their needs.
Bonar said he was so happy to get any response that he wrote back a note, thanking her for the communication.
He then got another note from her thanking him. She said she was keeping his resume in case he fit another opportunity in the near future.
Will her organization need someone with Bonar's experience any time soon? Maybe. Maybe not.
Meanwhile, the brief exchange between two human beings put a possibly qualified candidate in an employer's line of sight.
The impersonal, computer-based application process has made it too easy for too many unqualified job hunters to flood hirers' in-boxes.
Human resources departments have been cut so deeply that it's nearly impossible to respond to every applicant. The volume is just too great.
But out there are qualified workers who would be a good match for an employer's needs. The trick is getting through the filters and squashing preconceptions.