In a fascinating article recently, “Are there really no good job applicants out there?” Catherine Rampell in Economix points out some interesting facts. In December 2012, three out of ten businesses surveyed by The National Federation of Independent Business reported they found few or no qualified applicants for open positions. You might think from that statistic that there is a shortage of available workers, hard to imagine when “there were more than 12 million unemployed workers per available job,” based on the latest Labor Department job openings data.
Rampell argues that if there is a shortage of workers you would think the businesses would be “bidding up wages to attract the few qualified workers who are out there.” Evidently not. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average hourly earnings have fallen at the same time employers are complaining about a shortage of workers.
Evidently traditional supply and demand we learned in college no longer applies. Employers must be refusing to hire available workers if workers remain unemployed in the face of vacant positions. Employers are not offering higher wages as supply and demand would indicate.
We have heard this argument before. I am not telling you anything you do not know. Everyone knows someone who has been out of work for a while. People who have been unemployed for a while are highly frustrated about the situation.
Dan Toussant reports that employers he talks to are “less likely to consider applicants who are not working,” essentially freezing unemployed folks out of the job market. This can be puzzling to recruiters too.
The competition for attractive workers excludes 12 million unemployed people the pressure on the employers must not be sufficient to force them to increase wages to attract qualified workers. And since employers are not accessing qualified employees from among the unemployed, leaving positions vacant for a long time, those positions must not be very important to employers.
We can complain about this situation all we want. What can you do about this if you are unemployed? Make yourself look like you are employed. Here are some tips:
- Consulting: Offer your services to companies, even at lower rates, to work on short projects in your specialty. You can put this on your resume as your current employment. If there are open positions then there is work that needs to be done. Get out there and offer yourself for consulting positions directly to employers.
- Temporary Employment: There are agencies that specialize in temporary employment for most professional fields.
- Volunteer: Offer your professional services to a local non-profit organization. You have the time. Put it to good work. Then adjust your resume to reflect that you are working. You know you are volunteering but you are also working.
- Start your own business: What have you always wanted to do? Is there a way to offer that service in your own business without spending money you don’t have while you are unemployed?
Most of these ideas have the added benefit of bringing in some money while you are unemployed. This might impact your unemployment benefits but this small disadvantage will be offset by making you appear to be employed so you are not overlooked by employers biased against people who are unemployed.
NEXT: How to talk about yourself while you are in transition