The New York Times ran a piece detailing the travails of a woman who had lost her job and is currently facing the challenges of looking for a new one. She’s had little-to-no traction after replying to hundreds of job postings, networking and actively searching. Her job-search journal is filled with entries detailing her painstaking search for employment. There doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel for her.
While the monthly jobs report, issued by the government, points to a robust economy and record-setting full employment, there is a dark underside that’s not discussed and purposely avoided. There are far too many qualified and intelligent people who have fallen through the cracks and haven’t participated in the so-called “hot” job market. These folks are college-educated, white-collar, highly experienced professionals. Unable to procure a role commensurate with their experience and skill sets, they’re forced into the gig economy, driving for Lyft or Uber, accepting project work or temporary assignments. Some will reluctantly take a job that pays much lower than they’ve previously earned just to make ends meet and pay the bills.
This group faces several inherent, systemic difficulties. Large corporations, when they have an open job, desire candidates that can fill the need by doing a very specific function. The job seeker is required to possess an exacting, specialized background, so that they can hit the ground running on day one. The problem for many people is that, in a fast-changing environment, job seekers with more than 10 years of work experience may not hold the exact skills and are summarily passed over. There is little appetite—on the part of managers—to take the time, effort and costs involved in training applicants. It’s easier and more convenient for them to keep the job open until the perfect candidate comes along.
There is a cost-containment trend taking hold at most major corporations. In an effort to save money and cut costs, companies have been steadily relocating positions from big, expensive cities, such as New York, to lower-cost areas within the United States and to other countries. If a professional has more than 15-to-20 years of experience and is earning a certain amount of money, the company will pass on them. They’d rather find a younger person with three-to-seven years of experience, who can be paid far less than the more-experienced competitor for the job.
The manager will weigh the merits of having the more-expensive person based in New York compared to simply moving the job to one of their hubs outside of the large and costly metropolitan area, where the pay is significantly less. As many companies enact the same strategy, there are fewer high-level, well-paying jobs available for senior people. The nexus between earning a handsome salary and being in your late 30s and older makes it easier to get passed over—in favor of the more junior, less-costly job seeker.