Why a Bad Economy Doesn’t Mean Lots of Job Applicants

Update: As you can read in the comments, the CEO of Ayuda clarified some aspects of her original post. Apparently, I was incorrect in some of the details about her post, assuming that as a consulting company Ayuda was the one hiring employees either for themselves or others. That is not the case. Apparently the post was based on a discussion with a colleague who was having hiring problems. I have made some changes to the article based on this.

I recently read a fascinating article at Ayuda discussing several current employment issues. One of those issues is generational differences in the workplace. That is such a huge topic that I want to explore it in-depth in a later post (or several). For now I want to address their other issue. Some employers are having trouble finding workers, which surprises the blogger in view of this economy.

I admit that a shortage of workers seems odd in a job market with nine percent unemployment.  The blogger asserts that the length of unemployment benefits is the central reason, but I think there are other factors at play. The blogger identifies these as good paying jobs and good paying jobs are always better than unemployment benefits. I feel that the inability find workers in this economy may have a lot to do with one or more of these factors:


Because of the housing crisis, most people can’t sell their homes easily so they are no longer able to switch cities to take a job. This makes it hard for them to look for work outside their local markets. During the housing boom, it was easy to sell one house and buy another. Even though there were less people looking for work in general, it was easier to attract a skilled worker from another market and that evened things out.


In my recent job search I applied for several positions that I thought I was perfect for, and never heard back from many of the employers. This discouraged me from applying for positions that I felt only marginally qualified for.  My impression (accurate or not) was that there was no point in trying to compete for jobs that I wasn’t fully qualified for.

The moral of this story for employers is that if you aren’t getting applicants, you may want to look at your list of qualifications as ask yourselves which ones are really essential and which ones can be taught on the job. Nine percent of the population may be looking for work, but if your position has specific qualifications that the average worker doesn’t have, your job pool isn’t very big.


If a company has a reputation for laying off workers or having a poor work environment, that can make it hard to attract new workers. I turned down a fairly lucrative job offer once because people warned me that the company treated its employees poorly and several people had quit rather than put up with the environment. Reputation matters, even in a tough job market.

Poor Search Targeting

The blogger noted that the recruitment strategy used was traditional paper classifieds’ as well as internet search engines. Newspaper classified ads are pointless, so don’t get me started on that. Job search site ads are better, but still a very passive way to look for new employees. If you really want people for a position, especially a skilled position, you need to go out and find those people. Thanks to services like LinkedIn, it has never been easier to find qualified people if you really want to find them. An active search is better than a passive search.

Pay / Benefits

The blogger says the jobs in question are well-paying jobs, with good benefits and upward career track. That’s great. This is not always the case. Many companies in this environment have been trying to lowball their job offers, believing that workers should be grateful just to have a job. That is short-term thinking. If you want really good employees, you need to make good offers. The best employees are rarely out of work for long, so when you lowball you tend to find employees with flaws, even in a tough job market.

Also, good benefits are ones that really help the employee. Right now, the best possible benefit for many potential workers is relocation assistance (back to mobility). Not surprisingly, with the current housing market, this is the benefit that is hardest to get. Employers can’t afford to give it and job seekers can’t afford to take a job without it. It’s a sticking point that keeps the number of applications down.

Don’t Assign Blame, Fix Problems

Those are my thoughts. Blaming the job seekers for not applying is like blaming companies for not hiring. Whether you are correct or not, it is defeatist thinking. Look to the things that you can fix rather than concentrating things you can do nothing about:

  • Conduct better job searches
  • Adjust the qualifications
  • Work on your reputation
  • Try to meet job seeker’s real needs

Those are my views on the company’s problem. I could be right or I could be way off. Anyone else have any ideas?


6 thoughts on “Why a Bad Economy Doesn’t Mean Lots of Job Applicants

  1. Serena,

    Thank you for your insight. I too suffered job search fatigue during my bout of unemployment, so I understand where you are coming from. We both live in a very difficult town to find good jobs in, and I’m glad I finally found a great company to work for.

  2. First – thanks for the mention but boy are you WAY off base.

    I am not a recruiter of any kind. While I currently have posted ONE job for a client that is seeking to fill a position – that is ALL i have done – is post it.

    Had you taken the time to do ANY research, even hit a page tab of my website you would known that, BUT you didn’t.

    We offer Assessment, Training Consulting and OQ of the oil/gas an construction industries. I “hear” from my clients about MANY issues, only one of which is the job market. Again, had you bothered to read any of the related blog material you would known that. My blog is merely a commentary on discussions I have had with them over coffee.

    Second, I did not “blame” any one issue. I did mention the lengthy unemployment benefits and asked for feedback on other reasons that might be contribute to the issue. As A blogger, you should know, we call that a “tease” or “discussion starter”, right?

    Before you set off blogging – get your facts straight about companies that you plan to mention in it; otherwise you look pretty silly.

    Melinda Traynor
    Assessment, Training, Consulting and OQ LLC

    1. Hi Melinda,

      Thanks for responding.

      Your statement in the blog post was: “Might it have anything to do with ninety-nine (99) weeks of unemployment benefits? Maybe? Maybe not? I am open to ANY other explanation. Please. School me.”

      You didn’t offer any other explanations in the rest of your post, so I offered other explanations. As you say yourself in your comment, it was a “discussion starter”, so I discussed. You made a bold statement and asked for feedback. As a blogger, you should expect a response. In fact, you should hope for one.

      Also, I did look at your site. If I said something about it that was incorrect, I apologize, but I really did look at your site. You can blame me if you like but, as I discussed in the article, it is more productive to look for the changes you can make than to blame others.

      More importantly, my post was not really about your company, but about the things any company should think about if they are not getting responses to job ads. I stand by my discussion of that.

      I apologize if I upset you. It was not my intention. I linked to your article because I wanted people to see it and know about it. In my future discussion of the generational issue, I will avoid mentioning your site if you prefer.

  3. Setting aside the discussion of specific companies v. general advice, I thought that you had some interesting analysis of different factors that affect the available pool of labor in the current economy.

    One of the things that ultimately sealed my fate as a freelancer was the fact that when I moved to a new city, I applied for jobs that I was overly qualified for (based on the available openings), and I didn’t get a single call back for an interview. I literally applied for hundreds of jobs – with no response. I think that a lot of people have stopped applying for jobs because they’re tired of not getting called. And quite frankly, I’d rather hustle to make my own business successful than shuck and jive to get a job answering the telephone for a company that I may or may not like.

    I think your point about mobility is one that I wouldn’t have thought of – but it makes a lot of sense.

  4. Very interesting article which I wish the Swedish governement would have read BEFORE the crisis. It´s been a regular witch hunt on the unemployed over here the last two years.

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