Unlike past scenarios, job interviews have become harder and harder. Employers have an abundance of very qualified applicants, many of them working with interview coaches to elevate their interviewing skills. The outcome is that it raises the bar for everyone. There are many books available to job seekers to read and brush up on interviewing skills, but the problem associated with that is that many of those books are old and reflect the thinking of the era in which they were written.
Employers have become sophisticated in the area of interviewing candidates. In the past, after snail mailing a cover letter and résumé to a target company, a job applicant would receive a phone call invitation for an interview with the hiring manager. Nowadays there’s very little personal interaction at the front end of the process. The résumé submittal is electronic and goes directly into a database. The résumé gets buried there until its resurrection via the appropriate keywords a recruiter is interested in. Then comes the initial screening-out phone interview, and only if that goes well is a candidate invited to a series of interviews with often large numbers of people. There are a number of reasons for these changes.
Today’s employers react to the current economic condition by focusing on higher productivity through the application of various technologies, new and better software, and outsourcing in order to reduce staff and associated staff costs such as office space, pensions, and health care.
The hiring process today is also significantly more selective than in the past. Companies need people who can quickly learn constantly new technologies, can adapt to continuous changes, can reinvent their own jobs, and can function while changes occur at faster and faster rates.
When employers select new employees, they’re looking for those types who can provide solutions resulting in increased efficiency and, at the same time, reduced costs. Otherwise, jobs will move offshore.
Nobody’s job is safe anymore. The past paradigm of building a solid career is no longer valid. People out of work need information and intelligence about growth opportunities and must adapt their skills to meet employers’ requirements. This is a challenging proposition for job seekers—and especially for those who are more advanced in age than other job seekers. Waiting for things to happen is often futile and certainly demoralizing. Career counselors can be of great assistance, but the majority of the burden is on the job seeker.
by Alex Freund