High Unemployment Rate Does Not Mean an Easier Job for Hiring Managers

America added 243,000 jobs in January, which brought down the unemployment rate to 8.3% (Dougherty, 2012). The result was better than anticipated, but it is still expected to take a long time before the number drops to 5% or below. A high unemployment rate means that many people are unemployed. Chances are they are all looking for a job. Then, does a high unemployment rate make recruiting and hiring easier?

HR managers will probably tell you how difficult recruiting and selection have become as they need to find the right candidates in “the sea of applicants.” According to Weber (2012), Starbucks attracted 7.6 million job applicants for about 65,000 corporate and retail job openings last year (about 120:1). Procter & Gamble received almost one million applications for 2,000 new positions (about 500:1).

Many companies have to rely on technology to help screen candidates (as seen in the embedded picture and video). Often, job seekers are asked to submit their online application, which builds a data base for the company. Then, a computer program will help the company screen the résumé or applications with “matched” keywords and relevant experience.

Selected candidates may then proceed to the next steps, such as phone or in-person interview(s), assessment testing, background check, etc. A screening system costs between $5,000 and millions of dollars. With the aids of technology, however, companies can cut down the average cost of hiring a new employee to $3,479 (normally, it could cost $5,000+ for each new hire).

The major pitfalls of this automatic screening system come from its validity and reliability issues. It is possible that machines will make mistakes by screening out some quality applicants and/or include some less desirable candidates.

How useful do you think these automatic screening systems are? What strategies can a company take to ensure that the machine can yield accurate and reliable results?

How can job seekers prepare a résumé and an application letter that match the machine’s selection criteria?

Relevant discussions:

Dougherty, Conor. (2012, January 4-5). Jobs power market rebound: Unemployment dips to 8.3% on Broad Gains. The Wall Street Journal. pp. A1 and A6. Also available online
Weber, Lauren. (2012, January 24). Your résumés vs. oblivion. The Wall Street Journal. pp. B1 and B6. Also available online. The picture was also downloaded from this side.

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