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From Unemployment to Insights: Three Weeks of Woes & Observations

Updated: Apr 19



Being a job seeker in 2024 can feel like an adventure and a nightmare in the beginning by stirring up a mix of emotions. It's hard to imagine the struggles of those who have been seeking employment for several months or even a year. Personally, after just three weeks of job hunting, I'm already feeling the weight of job-seeker woes creeping in. The current job market and world of work can be discouraging more often than not as an unemployed job seeker. I find comfort in writing this blog post series and by sharing what I've learned or experienced with ALL job seekers (those of you that read my blog) and the greater Recruitment / Human Resources community.


In moments of woe like this, I often find myself slipping into a "funk". It's like I go into survival mode almost, where I tend to become more introspective and face challenges head on in a quieter fashion. When I am personally in this mode, the challenge is usually my mental health. However, today feels different. Today I woke up with a sense of optimism that was lost for me over the last week or two. I woke up ready to shake off this funky woe and confront the uncertainties in my life with determination and gusto. Instead of allowing the funk to consume a day further, I embraced it this morning and even started the day with a song to take back my positive mental attitude (PMA) that I do my best to live by. If I am going to acknowledge I am in a funk, the least I can do is take myself to "Funkytown".



In the past week I've applied for some exciting job opportunities (a couple that seemed like they were made specifically for me and my expertise). I am hopeful to receive more than rejections over the next week or two from those roles and schedule an interview. I have learned or validated a few more things as a job seeker in the past three weeks that I want to share with you in this post. Grab your favorite beverage and get ready for the second post in the, From Unemployment to Insights series. I sure hope you're up for a Rachel Kitty Cupples style info dump in 3, 2, 1...


Quick Apply & Biased Applications

It occurred to me last week that every time I applied for a role via Quick Apply on LinkedIn, I never receive an email confirmation and have not received a rejection email for any of the roles I've applied for via Quick Apply (is it really all that quick when considering the results). I have noticed on LinkedIn that a few of the jobs have been closed but have yet to receive correspondence from the employers regarding my applications. As a recruiter, I've never taken advantage of using quick apply. It is clunky and leaves room for error when considering candidate experience. I've always set up jobs to take applicants directly to the career site. I do this for many reasons. The most important reason is communication and candidate experience. Most often, when employers or recruiters set up a job post on LinkedIn and use the Quick Apply option they fail to correspond or connect with candidates along the way. When I see Quick Apply, sometimes I will apply (like I did early last week to see what would happen) but most often I go to the employer's site and apply directly from there to increase my chances of not getting ghosted. It's not a sure fire way to avoid being ghosted or to get contacted, but it seems to decrease the odds.


If you're reading this post and you are a recruiter or recruitment leader, please consider this next time you post a job to LinkedIn. Either be intentional and require yourself or team to reply to each Quick Apply candidate or make it easier on yourself and include a link that directly routes candidates to your career page. I cannot speak for all job seekers but I can speak for many when I say that the benefit of being able to quickly apply to only be ghosted is zero. We'd rather fill out an application on your career site and hope for correspondence from your recruitment or hiring team one way or another vs. Quick Apply and then nothing happens after submitting our resumes at all.



During the past few weeks I've also come across applications that raise multiple red flags. Some require details such as gender identity, full addresses (Have you heard the story of the time I was stalked by a hiring manager and they showed up at my home? If not, I shared the story here on TikTok.), require former salary information and salary expectations. These problematic elements in the application process underscore a disconnect between employers and job seekers that needs immediate attention. This isn't the first time I've mentioned this kind of thing on social media or in a blog post.



When considering an ATS keep candidate experience top of mind

This week I want to share with recruiters and anyone in a place of authority or decision making capabilities for purchasing applicant tracking systems (ATS) a piece of advice. Before you renew or purchase your next ATS, ask yourself this, how would you feel if you had to create a new user account for 50% of jobs you applied for as job seeker? Would you skip those applications and move on to those that do not require making an account? Would you complete an application that asked you to upload your resume but then required that you reenter all of the details from your resume to be considered? Would you be willing to share your salary range (what you want to make) in an application for a role that does not list a salary range or anything about salary/pay?


LinkedIn's AI

It isn't new but as a new job seeker, I am learning how the introduction to AI on the LinkedIn platform's messaging system (for posts and InMails) is making the job search process more complex from a networking perspective. It has been unsettling to receive messages from users that may or may not be spam - over and over. The abundance of messages using LinkedIn's AI tool from new connections or those wanting to connect is surprising and concerning in a few ways. I recommend not using the AI generator to reach out to candidates or prospective employers without making it your own and proofing it first.


The sheer amount of messages I am receiving from users that is nearly verbatim what others are messaging me is frightening. It makes me uneasy not knowing if it is from someone with good intentions just using the AI tool poorly or if it is being used by folx wanting to scam people (and me!).  As a response I have decided to distance myself from those whose messaging is clearly AI written and not specific to me to protect myself from spam and malicious actors. If you're a job seeker, this is likely not "new-news" to see this type of messaging in via InMail. In case it is new-news for recruiters, hiring managers or new to job search folx, here are some examples:






I am all for reaching out to job seekers but these messages read like AI wrote them and the person sending or person who automated the sending of the message(s) forgot to personalize them or just did not see a reason to. I hope recruiters and sources who are are serious about hiring are considering this.


FWIW: Initially, I replied to a few InMails with messaging like the above examples. The responses I received were similar then asking for more details as to why I am unemployed and a variety of other questions that are all public knowledge on my website and across social media platforms.


I live "professionally out-loud" on purpose. I do so to shine light on the recruitment profession (not all of us are anti-job seeker or come from the school of thought that it's us against them type thing), show my work, and hopefully inspire other professionals to take recruitment, DEIB, and candidate experience seriously with care. I say this because I am not the only recruiter or job seeker who operates from this school of thought or practice. Nor am I the only professional in recruitment or any profession who gives a damn about job seekers. Many of us do in fact give a damn and are operating professionally from an "out-loud" POV as well. That doesn't mean those who do not don't care, either. I am not talking about influencers who are far removed from the work. I am talking about those of us in the weeds, leading strategy, doing the work and making time to share with job seekers, aspiring professionals, and our greater communities to help not only inspire but also teach. I know professionals in DEIB, Product, Engineering, Finance, Legal, HR, Business Development, Marketing, Healthcare, and more that do the same. It is not just a recruiter thing. It is easy to personalize messaging to folx like us because we literally share it all publicly across our social platforms.


Recruiters and Sourcers would do well by their organizations if they viewed prospects and candidates as individual humans rather than a butt in a seat or a number.

All that said, I'd be a hypocrite if I did not mention that I've mistakenly sent a message to the wrong prospect/candidate in the past more than once. When it happens and I know about it, I address it humbly and with human respect at a minimum. An authentic and real apology goes a long ways. No one wants their time wasted. We are all human. Mistakes happen. That isn't what I am talking about in this post overall. I am not talking about the "one-offs". I am talking about the patterns I am not just observing, I am experiencing as a job seeker. I know some of this is lack of resources, support and training. I feel for recruiters who are carrying a desk of open requisition so large and without support staff that they are barely able to take a few seconds to source properly or review applicants for more than a couple seconds.


If candidate experience is truly a priority for organizations, they will make the time to ensure they truly are providing a world-class candidate experience for interviewing candidates and applicants. Period.


Over-qualified B.S.

Something I am personally dealing with during job search is the bias of being "over-qualified". There is a recruiter I follow on Twitter (X) who posted recently about why companies are scared or biased against workers they deem to be "over-qualified". It's often agism at it's simplest form and from there at a minimum assumptive AF.


Assuming a job seeker who has a ton of experience beyond what you're hiring for is not going to be loyal to fault is bias. Assuming I am over-qualified for an IC role because I was once a Director, is bias AF. I know many ICs who have plenty of leadership experience previous to their most recent IC role and are indirect leaders in their current roles. I also know many leaders who are open to being an IC or a leader. Whether they lead or not is not the most important element of work for them. These folx value company culture, flexibility, mission of organization, total compensation, role expectations and/or a myriad of other things they find important over job title or whether they will directly or indirectly lead people.


For me, the frustrating part (I am sure it is for other job seekers, too) is that the job market is saturated with unemployed recruiters. The gatekeepers to the open roles are not replying to InMails, Emails or comments on their social posts. I do understand why, they are likely inundated with applicants for each role and do not have the resources to get to everyone or haven't been shown how to do so effectively and efficiently. Possibly they are working for leaders that do not prioritize candidate experience. Maybe they just do not know better. The "could be this or thats" are endless. I am not making excuses for poor candidate experiences, I am merely pointing out that I do understand what is happening - I just wish one of these companies would hire me so I can help them fix their candidate experience problems (which will likely lead to addressing other areas for growth for the org - ijs). Changing candidate experience to ensure it is a priority can transform an organization as long as that candidate experience is authentic and real. It sounds easy. However, from experience and now as a job seeker, I am convinced more and more every single day that it really is an art form.


Many recruitment teams are lean beyond what "allows" them to provide okay-ish candidate experiences (let alone good or world-class efforts) and are not senior at their craft by any means. That is no dig on the recruiters out there doing the work the best they can day in and day out. They deserve better. They deserve to work with more senior recruiters and leaders who can teach and guide them. I sure didn't start recruiting understanding how important candidate experience was and why. I was just trying to learn the ropes and how to fill my requisitions quickly per the direction of leadership at the time. I didn't even think about it in my first year to be honest. I focused on what I was being taught and told were the important "things" - turns out it wasn't "all the things" though. New and experienced recruiters deserve support on the team to help review applications and correspond with candidates when it gets busy. They deserve mentorship and overall support. I am not saying there are not senior recruiters doing the work out there and doing it well (or not) - there are many variations. I am saying recruiters need support and need their employers to stop looking at them (recruiters) as nice to have employees but for the subject matter experts and artists they are.


The I'm not Bias, bias - Hiring Recruiters

When an organization is hiring recruiters, someone needs to be checking the recruiting team doing the hiring for the "I am not bias, bias" even harder. It's a recruiter's job to do that for their hiring managers, but let's be honest - it is a whole different ballgame when the hiring manager is the person the recruiter reports directly to or their boss reports directly to. Especially if that leader has the tendency to create competitive recruitment culture amongst the team or is prone to the, "do as I say - not as I do" leadership and hiring style. I get it. It is hard to be a recruiter in 2024 and likely harder to check your leader's biases when you know the job market is so terrible for recruiters right now. This is one more reason why it is imperative for successful organizations to not work in silos and for more than HR/TA to be involved in hiring. Recruiting is a team sport.


I've only been unemployed for about three weeks now. I'd love to get back into the work I love and help an organization/team elevate their recruitment practices, make candidate experience a world-class experience for folx who apply to their organization, and more.


A bias I've encountered and at that most rapid rate these past two weeks is it the over-qualified bias.


It's extremely difficult with recruiters and hiring teams making assumptions about candidates being "over-qualified" or out of their budget range when no range was posted and not a single additional question was asked of the candidate around either topic.

It's extremely difficult with recruiters and hiring teams making assumptions about candidates being "over-qualified" or out of their budget range (Quick Tip: If organizations posted salary ranges, job seekers who are outside the ranges will be less likely to apply - that's it, that's the tip!). Despite the obstacles I've encountered in my short time as a job seeker, I am doing my best to stay positive. I am not perfect at it. It has been a struggle and I am not even a month into it. I am a work in progress when it comes to keeping PMA with this job search.



Last week I applied for some seemingly incredible job opportunities and I am continuing my efforts this week. While there is competition in the job market with hundreds of thousands of unemployed/underemployed recruiters seeking jobs, I am determined to stand out. With that said, it's important to recognize that every other job seeker is also striving to stand out. Understanding this reality, I am choosing to be kind to myself and maintain my PMA as best possible as I navigate through this period of unemployment with little to no traction in my first month (queue the long term job seekers saying, "We told you so").


This blog post is not meant to be an attack on the recruitment community or hiring organizations. I am a member of the community. I just happen to be unemployed and from a school of thought where there is always time to hire diversely, equitably, inclusively and while providing excellent candidate and hiring team experience. Sometimes TTF is the problem and teams need to take a look at extending the TTF goals a couple weeks. I know. I know. I can hear it now. But we need someone now. My response is this, okay but would you rather gamble having someone for the role that isn't likely the best fit experience wise for the role to start two weeks sooner or is hiring the right qualified professional in a week or two further out a more effective and strategic move in the long run? Instant gratification is the enemy in this case, IJS. And I am not saying it will for sure take a week or two, I am just merely stating some of y'all need to trust recruiters more stop creating barriers for recruitment teams around TTF strictly. Sometimes slowing down a bit allows us to move fast down the line. I am happy to explain this further to anyone interest in being my next employer. This post, like all the posts in the From Unemployment to Insights blog series, is meant to shed light on what it is like to be a job seeker in 2024 as well as point our areas for improvement and diversity of thought, process, and execution in the sourcing and recruitment world. I know what it is like to be an exceptional recruiter and have more work on your desk than you can possibly do well from a candidate experience and employer exception standpoint. That said, this perpetual circle of too much work and not enough recruiters will continue to happen if organizations continue to view recruiters as "nice-to-have" vs. advisors and a necessity core to a business' overall success.


As promised, plan to share insights and reflections regarding my first full month of job search later this month. My hope is that by sharing my experiences it may inspire and provide comfort to others on a journey. For now I am going to do my best to stay optimistic and keep my spirits high. I am also going to show myself grace for the days where it is just not as easy to do so. I am pushing through the fear that by blogging openly and candidly I could be alienating myself from organizations that are not looking to change processes potentially or bust bias in hiring, etc. Easier said than done when you are six months away from having to move everything you own into storage and couch surf amongst friends at 46 years old.


As your comrade in job search and your recruitingSHEro, I do hope you'll 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 below in this blog post's comment section. 



Whether it is day one of your job search or day 382, let's buckle up, and survive this job-seeking journey together! In my next post I will discuss my experience with rejection and how I've found that doing my best to care for myself and network is the only things that could save me in this job search! And of course, I will share any new surprising truths I uncover along the way. I do hope the second post in the series above isn't too recruitment focused that isn't helpful for non-recruitment professional and job seekers. Recruitment and Candidate experience are what I am most passionate about professionally, so if you've read to the end and you're not a recruiter, thank you. If you are a recruiter, employed or not, thank you. We're all in this together. Comment below and let me know how you're doing after you've read this post.


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