In fact, they have to be – because their teams are almost always understaffed, even when they are at full headcount.
Here’s why …
We’re in what’s called a slow recovery. Companies are making profits, but are reluctant to hire. Companies are driving most of their profitability by productivity gains, rather than through sales gains.
Companies remain slow to hire, because most of their profits have come from doing more with less – fewer employees. Since companies don’t see huge pent-up demand for their goods and services, they aren’t preparing for rapid sales increases by adding production or sales capacity.
In fact, this chart from The Atlantic shows that this recovery has been so slow, that industrial capacity has actually declined over the past two years. When industrial capacity declines, it means that investment in new equipment is slower than depreciation – worn out equipment isn’t being replaced.
If industry isn’t even replacing worn out equipment, the economy can’t replacing jobs very quickly.
During a normal recovery, the economy looks like the blue line in the middle – notice that it’s increasing during the recovery period, as companies ramp up production to meet increased demand.
You’d see similar trends in employment – the job market hasn’t replaced most of the jobs lost since 2007, because employers aren’t increasing capacity in anticipation of increased demand for goods and services.
How does this affect employers?
Hiring managers aren’t getting their full headcount requests approved. During a normal recovery period, hiring managers might ask for 2-3 new hires during the budget process. This year, hiring managers are typically getting somewhere between 0-1 new headcounts approved for every 3 they request. Budget and finance departments aren’t forecasting growth strong enough to support significant new headcount.
But these same hiring managers are being told to do more with less – generate sales gains and cost savings with fewer employees than they’ve requested.
The slow recovery forces hiring managers to be picky.
Even at full headcount for the year, hiring managers are faced with a dilemma. How can they meet their goals, when they don’t have as many employees as they need to meet those goals? Hiring managers have to figure out ways to increase productivity of their departments, so they can meet increasing goals, while avoiding hiring new employees.
This forces hiring mangers to be picky – since they are understaffed, they can’t afford the luxury of on-the-job training for other than entry level positions. Few have training budgets (other than for entry level) to send employees to instructor-led training. Hiring managers can’t afford “ramp-up time” for new employees to learn their jobs. Being understaffed, hiring managers need team members to get up to speed almost immediately so they can add to team productivity, rather than lag while learning.
So how can new employees learn the skills needed to become productive on the job, without time or budget for training? Typically, they can’t. Employers realize most new employees with a strong education are smart enough to learn … it’s just that most hiring managers can’t afford to give new employees the time to learn new skills.
In order to meet their goals without adding headcount, hiring managers are forced to hire candidates who have already solved similar problems for their past employers. In a sense, this means they’ve already received training, paid for by past employers.
What does this mean to your job search?
It means you need to be picky also, and treat job requirements as minimums. When employers see an average 1,000 candidates for each job they advertise, they’ll find plenty of candidates that meet all of their minimum requirements. When you don’t meet all of the requirements of a job, including the “nice-to-haves” and “pluses”, you’re competing against many candidates who meet all of these requirements. What makes you think that you’ve got a decent shot of even getting an interview, much less a job, unless you meet 100% of the requirements.
Instead of wasting your job search time applying to jobs where you have no chance, why not instead invest even more time in the jobs where you have the best chance? These are the jobs where you meet 100% of the requirements.
For jobs where you meet the minimum requirements, do more research and gain superior information. Learn what’s going on inside the company and uncover hiring manager priorities and problems, so you can brand yourself as already having solved those problems. After all, you can’t show you’ve already solved the hiring manager’s key problems, if you don’t first know what those problems are.
When you do this for jobs where you already meet the minimum requirements, you increase the chances of your resume getting noticed … because your resume indicates you can hit the ground running. To the hiring manager, this means less risk of an underperforming employee, fast ramp-up time and no training needed.
You’ll show hiring managers that you can help them meet their goals by quickly becoming a productive part of the team.
Doesn’t that sound like a faster way to a job than applying to positions where you meet less than 100% of requirements?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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