Are Job-Alert Algorithms Trying to Tell Me Something?

It’s been almost a month since I was laid off, and it has been an adventure.

Although I still feel like a teenager pretending to be an adult, in today’s job market I’m practically a senior citizen. Experience, it seems, is not necessarily a good thing.

The job-search process itself sure has changed since I mailed my first resume and cover letter to a prospective employer. Now all of the “paperwork” is handled online, a high-tech solution so efficient that an applicant can receive a computer-generated rejection letter in a matter of hours. (My personal record: 61 hours and 42 minutes from application to “no thanks.”)

Experts say as many as 80 percent of positions are filled without ever being posted—a mind-boggling testament to the power of networking if I’ve ever heard one. My full schedule of coffee (and sometimes cocktail) meetings haven’t produced one of those “invisible” jobs yet, but I have leaned on friends for help with the ones I’ve seen advertised.

That already has resulted in some real head-scratchers: I didn’t make the initial cut for one position, for example, because the hiring manager decided I would be bored by the work. Um, isn’t that my decision? A quick look at my resume should prove I’m a serial monogamist, not a job-hopper. And I applied for that particular gig when I still had a steady paycheck, so I think it’s safe to assume I actually wanted it.

Now I have to apply for three jobs a week to qualify for unemployment benefits. I’ve been lucky enough to find openings that match my interests and abilities so far, but I can’t help wondering if the technology helping to power my search is trying to nudge me toward a new career.

While the job listings delivered daily to my inbox have produced several solid leads, the vast majority of the presumably algorithm-driven “recommendations” have nothing at all to do with writing, editing, or marketing communications.

Need a patient, outdoorsy nanny? Not it. Seeking a part-time carwash attendant?  I don’t even clean my own car. Hiring a retail store manager? Let’s talk employee discount.

Maybe I’m being short sighted or narrow minded or big headed, but I’m holding out for a position that will allow me to use the skills I’ve worked so hard to develop—and that will give me the chance to find new ones to nurture.

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