As labor market cools, job seekers must apply early and often

Stephanie Hughes Jul 8, 2024
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More Americans want to work, according to latest reports, but that does not mean everyone is being hired. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As labor market cools, job seekers must apply early and often

Stephanie Hughes Jul 8, 2024
Heard on:
More Americans want to work, according to latest reports, but that does not mean everyone is being hired. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

While the national unemployment rate continued to tick up in June, now sitting at 4.1%, experts are saying more people are looking for work. But it’s taking them longer to find jobs, creating a cooler labor market.

Jenn Kwashnak’s resume includes grant-writing, contracts administration, copywriting, event planning, as well as performing and producing burlesque shows. Now, she works part-time for an arts nonprofit in Baltimore.

But she’s a single parent. She’d like full-time work with benefits and has been looking for more than nine months. She’s had a few interviews that “have sounded very promising” but ultimately haven’t panned out.

Receiving a formulaic rejection or not even getting any response at all is demoralizing, Kwashnak said. “A lot of the humanity feels removed from the process.”

In some ways, the humanity is removed. Roughly three-quarters of resumes are read by computers first, according to Julia Pollak, chief economist at the hiring site ZipRecruiter.

Pollak added a lot of companies updated their hiring tech during the pandemic, and resumes these days have to be “computer-friendly.”

“Make sure it reads top to bottom left to right — very simple, boring format,” Pollak said. “This is not the time for fancy fonts and colors and graphics.”

Lots of people apply to a bunch of jobs when they start their search, then sit back and see what happens, Pollak said. But for many employers, the hiring process has sped up in the last couple of years.

Instead, Pollak said it’s best to apply early and often. “Many employers are not looking at any applications that come in after the first day or two or first week,” she said.

And there are a lot of applications. 

Guy Berger, director of economic research at the Burning Glass Institute, said there’s been an increase in both new entrants to the workforce as well as people re-entering it

“As a result, there’s more competition for jobs,” Berger said. “If you’re searching for a job, you might be a little discouraged.”

In Baltimore, Kwashnak tries to make sure her resume has words in it like “organized” and “multifaceted” — terms she thinks computer-recruiters will like. She also tries to make sure her cover letters have personality so she doesn’t end up coming off like a robot herself.

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