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From Unemployment to Insights: My First Week of Job Search in 2024 Revealed Surprising Truths

Updated: Mar 27



Unemployment can be devastating, frightening, and overwhelming.


Nobody knows this better than a job seeker. 


If you didn't see my announcement last week, I am now an unemployed job seeker.


As I began my job seeking journey, admittedly, I had certain preconceived notions about what the job market was like currently for job seekers. I knew it was a tough market. I was correct about it being tough. I knew I'd built some lasting and impactful relationships with job seekers recently and over the years.


I'd listened to their stories and tried my best to understand from their point of view.


However, my experience over the past few days has already shattered a few of my assumptions, shined light on areas I misunderstood about the job market from a job seeker's perspective, cleared up a few things I didn't understand and was hearing about from job seekers about job search in 2024, and provided me with valuable insights just a week or so into my search!


Join me as I share my surprising discoveries and invite you to be a part of my job-seeking adventure blog series!


In this blog post, I will take you through my first week of job search, revealing the stark contrast between my initial perceptions and the reality I encountered almost on day one. By the end, you'll not only gain a deeper understanding of the 2024 job market from a job seeker's perspective but also - I hope you will find a bit of inspiration, maybe even guidance, some confirmation that your own job-seeking experience is like that of others, and (what I believe is most important right now) more than a sense of camaraderie throughout your own job search journey. I can hopefully be your job search comrade or your @recruitingSHEro along the way.


Shoulder to shoulder, we will get through this together (virtually of course).



So, let's hop into this rollercoaster ride while I share what I've learned about job search in 2024 and about ME during this series. Some of this may be new to you and some of this may be validating because you've experienced it for a lot longer than I have. Either way, I do hope you'll join me on my journey and share about your journey along the way in the comments of this post or others in the series and across social media with me. So let's do this!


A few things I thought I knew about the job market and what it was like for job seekers before I became a job seeker myself:


Fake job posts

Previous to becoming a full time job seeker myself, I was flabbergasted by the amount of posts and comments about the topic of fake job posts. I thought, "job seekers just do not know the difference between staffing and in-house recruitment" along with the ins and outs of it. I even interacted with a few folx on LinkedIn who mentioned fake posts trying to understand but went no where beyond my original assumption of the problem.


AI is a fantastic tool that can never replace recruiters

I've been quoted as saying, "AI when leveraged properly can be a recruiter's best friend and tool to ensure recruiters can focus on candidate experience and the most crucial portions of sourcing and hiring". I stand firmly by this even today.


The "Open To Work" hashtag

It's only going to help get noticed and cannot hurt me as a job seeker. Marking yourself, Open To Work is important in your LinkedIn settings. The green OTW banner doesn't signal desperation to hiring teams or recruiters. Use it if you're open to work and not already employed. If you are open to work and employed simultaneously, do not use the banner but keep the setting on. It will help recruiters find you behind the scenes.


Ghosting

It happens. I am still personally waiting for a local social enterprise to get back to me after more rounds of interviewing than I can recall four years later. Now, I just laugh when I see they are still hiring for their recruitment department so many years later. Clearly, candidate experience isn't top of mind for all organizations. With high turn over recruitment departments, it can be even worse. One of several things I am grateful for before I was laid off by most recent employer is that I had the opportunity to close out my last three requisitions fully. Meaning, I was able to reach out via phone or email to every single candidate that had applied before leaving. Not every recruiter is allowed this opportunity and having been in the scenario in the past, I do not wish it on any recruiter because it negatively impacts the recruiter (they lost their job and now have to deal with potential recruiter reputation issues for "ghosting" to boot. Where did "to boot" come from and why do I say it?).


Educational Requirements

I wrote a blog post in 2020 specifically about requiring a degree for recruiters. I truly thought that in the year of our Beyoncé, Cowboy Carter - this bias had mostly been eliminated.




What I learned in the first week of my job search:


Fake job posts

It turns out, I didn't know the half of what job-seekers were actually trying to explain to me. Yes, some folx were in-fact, not understanding the difference between a company hiring directly and a staffing agency hiring for many of their clients. But that wasn't even touching the surface of the problem in the current job market that job seekers were and are talking about.


The last time I was a full-time job seeker was in 2020. I blogged about it (this website was born that year and during that job search - shout-out to Iggy for your help getting this going and for the logo!) here. I tackled topics like, The Face of In-Person Interviewing Changing, The Importance of Interview Feedback for Job Seekers, and in February of 2021, I published a post sharing what not to say to job seekers, a post that compiled my 2020 job seeking journey and some of the trauma hiring team members and recruiters had inflicted along the way. Whether I knew what was right or wrong didn't make the impact any less negative for me as a job seeker. I encourage you to read the post. I am rambling now - aren't I...


Back to the topic of fake job posts. Honestly, it's far more than an actual or literal fake job post. What job seekers are truly experiencing in 2024 (and I suspect in 2023), is the rise of AI and its negative impact on job search. I do not think it is shocking to consider this outcome as a problem that needs to be solved immediately. Ethical AI is not being leaned into in many cases, IMHO. The sheer amount of "job-boards" out there today that did not exist in 2020 is staggering. Yes, job boards have been around scraping data forever it seems, but that is not what I am referring to. I am witnessing and experiencing something else.


What does this mean, Rachel? What are you even talking about, Rachel?




What I am not trying to say is that applying for roles on LinkedIn or via job boards is bad. I am saying, to the average job seeker who isn't a skilled full-cycle recruiter, this shit is bananas out here. Job search has never been more complex for job seekers and to top it off, many organizations are downsizing their recruitment teams to survive the overall market. Instead of just agencies posting catch all posts, now we have job boards powered by AI doing the same. My point, be gentle with job-seekers. Some folx have been dealing with this ridiculous job market for far too long and deserve some grace. I've been saying this for years but apparently it needs to be said louder and repetitively. More to come on the topic of fake job posts as I learn more from the job seeking community and my own experience out here in these job seeking streets.


AI is a fantastic tool that can never replace recruiters


I said what I said and I stand by it. That said, not everyone or every organization is going to prioritize candidate experience or DEI in hiring. Case in point:



I did not finish this application. Yup! You got it. This is a screenshot of an application I was 21 minutes into completing when I arrived at this point in the application completion process. I would guess I was 95% or more through the total application for a Senior Recruiter role when it asked if I wanted to opt out of having my resume reviewed by AI. As a job seeker and a recruiter, my mind wasn't blown but my heart did sink at the mere thought that this organization would even consider letting AI make their hiring decisions. If they were hiring femme bots that is one thing, but they are literally hiring for a wide variety of roles, to include recruiters. Why did I abandon this application? Because there is no way I would ethically ever be able to recruit for an organization that devalues the human experience as much as this company did here. They not only are letting AI make their hiring decisions, they waited until the very end of the application to mention it. Now before anyone asks me who is this company, I want to be clear - I am not here to put specific companies on blast in my first week or two of job search, that would likely be detrimental to my job search. I am here sharing my experience in the hopes of shining light on the topic of job search and what it is like as a job seeker in 2024.


The "Open To Work" hashtag

I shared this with my community on LinkedIn over the weekend but it's important to share here as well. Marking yourself, Open To Work is important. The banner doesn't signal desperation to hiring teams or recruiters. That hasn't changed. What I was surprised by - big surprised by, is that I now can confidently say that by using the hashtag “open to work” you will only encourage a good spamming fake profiles to your InMail box. Every time I’ve used the hashtag I’ve received no less than eleven. ELEVEN or MORE!!! My two cents on this: LinkedIn needs to do something about this. And don't tell job seekers to increase their spam filters, that just leads to the possibility of good leads not getting through to them. 


Ghosting & Educational Requirements

I've applied for 23 jobs since Thursday, March 14th. I've received two rejections. One a few days after applying for a role. The message stated the role was filled. The second I received last evening, about 20 seconds after I applied. There was a knock out question around education. This Senior Recruiter role required a bachelor's degree in Human Resources and I do not have one but the way the job post worded experience requirements, it seemed like my eleven plus years of recruitment and recruitment leadership experience would be enough for the three years of recruiting experience minimum they also required. I was wrong. I do not have all the answers yet on ghosting. I haven't been a job seeker long enough to collect insights on this topic...but trust that I have a spreadsheet I'm tracking this all with.


I mentioned that I wrote about this in 2020, Do (successful) Recruiters Need a Degree in Human Resources (HR)?. I thought by March 2024 this backward and privileged thinking was beneath us. It's bias AF at best. But here we are just under four years after posting that blog, doing the same run around. This proves to me, even more so today than it did in 2020 - most people and organizations just do not understand that excellent full cycle recruitment is an art. (An excellent recruiter would not allow biased requirements for a role if they can help it.) It is an expertise that not all possess, certainly not, AI. It's not something just anyone can do. Not even AI or folx with HR degrees. Now I am not shaming education, AI, or anyone with a degree in HR using AI. I am merely stating, that the human aspect that makes a recruiter exceptional, is the same aspect that makes for providing world-class candidate experiences and most (notice I didn't say ALL, so for any keyboard warriors out there clutching their pearls, you can step away from they keyboard now - it is going to be okay) organizations are missing the mark all together with candidate experience.



As my first week as a job seeker in 2024 gets smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror, I can't help but continue to reflect on that overwhelming first week, I never anticipated such an eye-opening experience in such a short timeframe. All the while, I was (and I still am) processing the reality that I'd lost a job I loved due to a restructure (reduction in staff - lay off)


This is just a smidge from my first week or so as a job seeker. More to come.


Join me as I share my surprising discoveries and either confirm or debunk my own assumptions along the way. I invite you to not only follow my job-seeking blog series but to be part of it by sharing your experiences by sharing below in this blog post's comment section. 



Whether it is day one of your job search or day 372, let's buckle up, and go on this job-seeking journey together!

7 則留言

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訪客
3月29日
評等為 5(最高為 5 顆星)。

You’re incredible, Rachel. I wish my company was hiring. It would be an honor to learn from you.

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訪客
3月28日

Sadly, I also find myself on this job seeking train and I couldn't agree more with everything you have mentioned/experienced. As a more mature woman it is even harder, and my many years of experience seem to be dismissed for someone straight out of Uni with zero common sense. It is soul destroying but we soldier on. 😀

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評等為 5(最高為 5 顆星)。

maybe you should consider being a contract employee (working for yourself) that they hire to fill said position with a price for each , paid at successful recruitment position filling ? I know no benefits, but maybe until you land in a corporate environment? Best wishes.

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I believe he was coming from a place that was good. Let's not tear each other down here. I appreciate your protectiveness. There is room for everyone to show up in support of me here.



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訪客
3月27日
評等為 5(最高為 5 顆星)。

Great insights! Hoping and praying the search is shorter than expected and the new opportunity better than expected! 😊

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訪客
3月26日
評等為 5(最高為 5 顆星)。

As always, insightful and from the heart. As always, know this too shall pass

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