We interviewed nearly four hundred professionals about their experiences searching for jobs and we heard one phrase about the job search process more than any other- “Black Hole.” Regardless of age, gender identity, industry, function, or seniority many of the professionals we spoke to had similar experiences within the job search process- particularly the online job search process. They had scoured job boards, LinkedIn, and company websites for opportunities, they had prepared their resumés and applications, they submitted cover letters specific to an open position at companies they wanted to work for, and the majority of the time… they received no response back at all. As one survey respondent articulated so clearly:
“Applying online has become mundane and feels very pointless. I have applied for close to 300 jobs in 5 months, and have had 3 interviews” The online job search process is ineffective for both candidates and the companies hiring them. It becomes an emotionally draining massive time commitment that yields little to no results. Of all the professionals we surveyed- just 8.7% of them found their last job on a job board.
One of the primary complaints respondents raised about looking for jobs is the lack of response and lack of transparency within the job search process. As seen in the graphs below- 60% of the professionals we surveyed said that they receive responses from applications submitted online (including negative or automated responses) less than 30% of the time (including the third of all survey respondents reporting responses less than 10% of the time). Applicants had even worse results when it came to actually getting an interview for a job- 48% said that applications submitted on job boards led to interviews less than 10% of the time.
Often- part of the problem with the “black hole” phenomenon is that positions posted online are expired, or already filled. On most job boards and company websites you can’t tell how long something has been posted. As a respondent noted “no response(s) and update that the position is expired are big issues on job boards.” Often applications come in in the hundreds and filter into unattended email inboxes once the position is filled.
In addition to this- it is unclear how job boards filter the candidates that apply for jobs. Keyword matching seems to be a common tool- where job boards match applications and job descriptions to find language overlap. This wouldn’t necessarily filter out the strongest candidates but rather the ones who matched their application most closely with the job description. As one survey respondent noted: “(We) Need better access to companies directly. The job boards are like blackholes and they miss good candidates because of their filters.” Many feared that job sites were filtering them out based on age, degree attainment, or lack of certain overlapping language in their applications rather than judging applicants based on merit.
Overwhelmingly- what those we spoke to wanted more than anything else was transparency. More people wanted a simpler job search process where they were able to apply for positions they knew were still open, speak to real employees within the company, and better understand what the process would entail. The online job search process is high volume and low quality. The process needs to change to better serve companies and the people they hire. What experiences have you had looking for jobs? Let us know!