You don’t need statistics to tell you that it’s not easy to find a job, but they’re around to reaffirm that unfortunate reality. With few opportunities, low salaries, and hardly any time to make a good impression, it can often seem hopeless. But just because the numbers may be against you, that doesn’t mean you can’t beat them.
In this post, we’ll take a look at those intimidating job-hunting statistics and factoids one by one, then offer methods to combat each daunting detail.
Recruiters Only Look At Your Resume for a Total of Six Seconds
According to an eye-tracking study, recruiters only look at resumes for about six seconds. That’s not a lot of time to make an impression, and is kind of a depressing notion when you put in hours making your resume great. Nonetheless, welcome to reality. You need to make those six seconds count.
To start, let’s talk about what recruiters see in those six seconds. The information gleaned from that quick skim includes your name, a little information about your current and most recent past positions, and your education. This is the information you want to make easiest to find and the most clear.
Just because recruiters only scan your resume for a small fraction of a minute doesn’t mean nobody reads it. If you’ve got an upcoming interview it’s likely that somebody’s going to examine it a little more closely—and that somebody has some sway in whether or not you get hired. This is to say, don’t slack off on your resume because you think nobody’s going to read it. If it doesn’t end up in the recycling bin, it’ll fall under more eyes and those eyes are going to want something simple and easily digestible. Resume grading webapp RezScore suggests that 700 words is the ideal resume length. They asked hiring experts to grade a series of resumes on their appropriate length and 700 was where most agreed. The results also showed that longer is worse. It’s better to have a resume that’s too short than too long.
You’ll also want to be aware of what content to avoid and include. There are six typically bad words to put on your resume—awesome, salary, nursery, makeup, burger, and drug—as well as five great terms for entry-level candidates—dean’s list, achievement, led, honors, and fluent. Finally, be sure to proofread thoroughly. Although everyone makes typos, you’ll be judged for them on a resume. Read yours from bottom to top so you’re more likely to catch them all.
33% of Bosses Decide Whether or Not to Hire You Within 90 Seconds
First impressions count—unfortunately a little more than you might like. These initial moments essentially prime the brains of those who meet us, giving them a biased lens through which we’re viewed during an interview. These moments generally have little to do with what you say and more to do with physical and visual stimuli. Carlin Flora, writing for Psychology Today, explains:
The answer lies in part in how the brain takes first-impression Polaroids-creating a composite of all the signals given off by a new experience. Psychologists agree that snap judgments are a holistic phenomenon in which clues (mellifluous voice, Rolex watch, soggy handshake, hunched shoulders) hit us all at once and form an impression larger than their sum.
If you make a good first impression you’re likelier to have a good interview, even if you make mistakes later. Once someone has somewhat subconsciously decided how they feel about you, that will play into the remainder. Confidence and charm do make a difference, even if you’re not overflowing with either one. The best way to get confidence before in interview is to feel prepared, and charm is often a combination of that confidence, kindness, and a genuine smile. That’s often enough to start you off on the right foot, but you don’t have to stop there.
But first impressions aren’t everything. You can absolutely recover from a false start or crash and burn after a good one. Assuming you’ve prepared, one of the easiest ways to ensure a better interview is natural body language. This is simple because you don’t really have to do much of anything. Personal finance blog Wise Bread points to several negative body language cues such as touching your face, rapidly moving your leg, sitting rigid, slouching, not too much or too little eye contact, and avoiding closeness or distance. If you feel like some of these suggestions nearly contradict themselves, you’re reading them correctly. The goal is to be natural—as in, not too much of anything. You want to speak positively for yourself, rather than have your body speak negatively for you.
Where You Live Can Decrease Your Likelihood of Employment, Especially with Technical and Creative Jobs
Employment rates aren’t equal all over the country, especially when it comes to technical and creative jobs. Some cities are hiring more workers than others, and if you’re not willing to move for a better job that can be a problem. But even if you’re in a city with a low employment rate, it’s not necessarily bad news. Google Source: provides public data on employment rates that you can use to discover the best locations to look for jobs. If you’re in an area offering employment that’s higher than the public average—great! If not, check surrounding areas and you may find that there are more opportunities just a few miles away. You can also the Skills Explorer to figure out if the best locations to work for the particular kind of job you want.
If you can’t find a job that’s close enough to where you live, you still have options. Telecommuting is becoming increasingly popular, and it’ll let you work for a company in virtually any location without the need to leave your home. Most telecommuting jobs are technical, however, so if you’re lacking technical skills you’ll want to acquire a few. We can get you started with basic programming, teach you Photoshop, and lots more. Once you know what you’re doing, it’s simply a matter of convincing people that you’re great and worth hiring. Sometimes this can mean you should work for free at first, but once you’ve proven yourself you’ll have many more opportunities. There is one very important thing to note: none of this is easy. It requires a lot of hard work to pick up a new skill and then use it to get a job. It’s frustrating and you’ll have many moments of doubt, but when you want things to change you have to believe in yourself first.
Salaries Have Barely Gone Up in the Last 15 Years and That Money Is Worth Much Less
In 1995, the average young male with a bachelor degree could earn $49,300. In 2012, those earnings got a small boost up to $51,000. The problem is, $51,000 in 2012 isn’t actually worth more when you consider inflation. $49,300 in 1995 has the same buying as $74,319.50 does today. Even though salaries have technically gone up, we’re just not earning as much as we used to.
There isn’t much of an upside to the fact that your money is worth a lot less now than it used to be, but that doesn’t mean you should just give up and start piling on debt just to get by. $51,000, even in 2012, is still a comfortable living for one person. You just have to manage your money a little better. There are actually a lot of fun ways to do that. Learning to cook (and, as a result, cooking more often) is one of the easiest ways to save some money. Knowing when to buy can keep you from paying full price on most anything you want. You can even travel well by going with a group or employ clever methods that work the many discount systems available. If you’re bringing home 2012’s average paycheck (or even less), you can substitute your lack of cash for savings by just putting in a little extra work.
But if you want more money, there are ways to get that, too. We’ve discussed a number of ways you can earn a little extra money on the side, even if you don’t have much free time, like performing simple tasks online and selling stuff you no longer want or need. Additionally, if you’ve got a job want believe you deserve a raise, there are good and bad ways to ask for it. For example, you want to be prepared. Wanting a raise and deserving one are clearly different things, so know why you believe your company ought to be paying you more. This not only means knowing your best assets as a worker but also how your current salary compares to the average salary of others in your field. Additionally, you don’t want to ask at the wrong time. According to data from LinkedIn, January, June, and July are the best times (in the U.S.) to make the request.
One Positive Statistic: Employment Is on the Rise
National trends are showing a rise in job openings and employment, so things are getting better statistically-speaking. If unemployment has got you down, you should take some comfort in knowing that things are trending upward. Practically, however, numbers aren’t going to get you hired. What might is some strategy. Watch the job opening and hiring trends because they’ll tell you specifically who is hiring the most workers. This won’t guarantee you work, but it’ll help you know where to look.
Source: Simply Hired: National Trends.
Special thanks to Sean Weinberg, co-founder of RezScore, for providing a number of statistics for this post.