If you are hunting for a new job, be prepared for a long slog. Layoffs from top companies have spooked both hiring managers and job seekers. You will be put off by job descriptions with too many requirements and not much clarity around the salary, as well as glitchy job applications that take up an inordinate amount of time. The hiring process will be slow. You will be forced to partake in three to 10 interviews, have meetings canceled at the last minute and get ghosted or receive a lowball job offer.
The United States job market is amid a white-collar recession, as college-educated professionals are predominately being laid off. There has been a steady stream of downsizing announcements from companies in the tech sector, Wall Street, media and other industries with a preponderance of office workers.
Layoffs are the focus of the current job market. To battle inflation, Federal Reserve Bank Chair Jerome Powell is executing his plan to cool down the economy. Hiking interest rates will cause companies to cut costs and result in workers being downsized, which is the unfortunate intended consequence. In past recessionary environments, it was typically the blue-collar and low-wage earners who suffered the most. This time, it’s different.
The Job Search Will Go Slowly
Out-of-work Americans are experiencing a more drawn-out and lengthy job search. They are spending more time job hunting, as employers are slower to hire compared to the pandemic. According to the Wall Street Journal, last month, 826,000 unemployed workers had been out of work for about 3½ to 6 months, which is up from 526,000 in April 2022. The number of people filing for unemployment benefits and continuing claims at the beginning of January was “26% above half-century lows reached last spring.”
Companies Are Reluctant To Hire
When companies are laying off workers and cutting costs, your job search is much more difficult. Wanting to keep costs down, businesses are reluctant to hire, as economists predict a looming recession. With nearly 60,000 tech professionals laid off in January alone, there will be intense competition for the fewer remaining job openings.
What To Expect
It will be harder to get a premium to your current wage when there is a vast pool of applicants to draw from. Human resources will presume that job hunters are desperate and willing to accept lowball offers as a life raft.
Be prepared for wading through old, stale job listings, getting ghosted, interviews being canceled at the last minute and feeling like you’re being discriminated against because you’re in between jobs. You’ll have to be vigilant about fake job scammers trying to take advantage of your vulnerable situation.
Some companies will be cryptic about the actual pay, why the job is open, what happened to the last person who held the role and the future growth path. However, they will demand to know specifics about what the candidate would accept for a salary and every detail about their work-life experience.
The job descriptions can be long, riddled with corporate jargon and buzzwords and contain too many unrealistic bullet points that don’t even offer what it’s really like to work at the company. States like New York, Colorado and California legally require businesses to list compensation ranges in job postings. However, companies skirt this law by offering wide salary bands, which is unhelpful.
The application process can be horrendous. Online applications are fraught with glitches and lengthy questions that require too much personal data. Job seekers find the applications duplicative since people are simultaneously required to upload their résumé containing the same exact information. To add insult to injury, the companies that post job advertisements don’t even have the courtesy to provide a computer-generated email confirming receipt of the application.
Job seekers are pushed into meeting with several people over a three to 6-month period. In between interviews, there are long bouts in which they don’t receive any communications from the company. It’s not unusual for weeks to go by before receiving an email requiring an interview the following day at a predetermined time that they did not consult with you on.
Even after attending multiple interviews, job seekers are ghosted. Email and phone calls go unanswered and the applicant is simply ignored and forgotten.
After a lengthy and stressful interview process, including conversations about compensation, a lowball offer is presented. Some companies make it a practice not to provide a written offer unless a verbal offer is accepted first. It is accompanied by intense pressure to say “yes” immediately—without time to deliberate on the offer.
The Contagion Effect
Layoffs can cause a domino effect. There is a herd mentality amongst corporate leadership. If a bellwether company is conducting layoffs, other firms will follow suit. Boards of directors will wonder if everyone else is downsizing, why isn’t their company? By reducing headcount, shareholders and the board will benefit. In addition to saving, they make money because the share prices often go higher following a layoff announcement, as investors applaud the company’s fiscal responsibility.
Once a few firms within a sector lay off workers, it gives permission for other companies to follow suit. It makes it easier for the CEO and C-suite to conduct layoffs if everyone else is doing it too. They can prune the low performers without worrying about being accused of discrimination or biases and place blame on the economic outlook.
This month, Salesforce, Microsoft, Amazon and Google announced layoffs of around 10,000 workers or more. Capital One, Wayfair, Spotify and other relatively smaller firms also announced plans for downsizing personnel.