"I Can't Find A Job Even in This Tight Job Market and Recruiters Treat Me Like I Am Worthless" - 03/23/22 Edition
Stephen Says Column

Dear Stephen,

I usually round it off and say I’ve been unemployed since the 1st of this year but, more accurately, I was terminated on December 31st, 2021.  So, you might tell me that it’s only been 2 ½ months, that it’s nothing to worry about, but I hear on TV and social media that there is shortage of workers and everyone is hiring - they’re just not hiring me. I can’t get hired in the industry I have worked in for the past 15 years. I am in my early 40’s , a college graduate with long tenure at two major manufacturers.  My company was acquired. I kept my job for a while, then I lost it. I received severance and outplacement. My last employer is rated one of Fortune magazines “Best Places to Work” in our industry. Go figure.

I have a professional resume, a “by the Viscusi book” LinkedIn profile, and a strong following with my customers.  I just have not landed a job yet.  I get interviews, interviews and more interviews, but no job offers.  Oh, and I’m in Dallas and this city and state is hopping! I have contacted recruiters nearby me in Houston, and in Los Angeles, Grand Rapids, Salt Lake and as far away as you guys in the Big Apple.  All the usual suspects. I feel like I get no respect from recruiters because I am unemployed, and I am feeling tapped-out of ideas.  What is it with you guys?  My phone was ringing off the hook when I was not looking for a job but now I feel like a piece of used office furniture, which we all know really has no value. Some days I feel like I’m not only out of work I’m also out of luck.

Any suggestion for this 41 year old Willy Loman?

Signed,  Feeling Low


Dear Mr. Low,


Please do not despair or consider yourself a tragic figure like Willie Loman in “Death of a Salesman”.  Let’s start there.  I will be reaching out to you personally since you have used a serious pen name, and I’m sure there will be no tragic ending and you will look back on this as just a bump in the career road. Here is my advice; seek counseling beyond the outplacement service you have been offered.  Anyone unemployed for 90 days or more should consider some type of therapy as well.  Maybe a life coach or find a mentor, maybe an old boss, a family friend or relative.  Even a spiritual leader to talk to. Finding a new job takes a long time no matter how low unemployment is, and even in times like today with a shortage of employees for the jobs that are open.  You need to consider looking beyond the furniture industry as well but the most important advice I can give any unemployed person who shares your frustration with recruiters helping you is do not rely on a recruiter, headhunter, or whatever you want to call us. You sound very employable, just impatient and with an unrealistic idea of how long it takes to find a new job. That can lead to an individual becoming depressed about himself and the process which, of course, is counterproductive and makes it even harder to find a desirable job. I have some ideas which I hope will change your way of thinking about this.

Executive recruiters, employment agencies, placement agencies, no matter what you call them always work only for the employers doing the hiring, not the person looking for a job. The manufacturer or dealer is paying the fee, and therefore they are the customer of the recruiter. Generally speaking, for sales positions (but not always) the manufacturer or dealer is paying a fee in order to poach an employed person from one of their competitors who will bring a client base with them.
Human resources managers tell recruiters that they want “fee worthy” candidates.  When a headhunter sends them someone unemployed, they may say, “I would hire that person in a minute but is that candidate fee worthy?? “. The logic of a company paying a fee to a recruiter to introduce them to an individual who is looking for a job and is unemployed just does not make sense.  But it does not make you a bad candidate if you contact that same company on your own and save them the fee.  Does that illustration help?  Got it? 

The best jobs are not advertised or posted on LinkedIn, and often not on a company’s website. You need to simply download your resume to every single company even if you do not see an opening. And guess what?  Today, right now, this month, is great timing to find a new job.  Why?  Well, the end of March is the end of Q1 for most companies and usually it is the end of the month when many people will finally get the 2021 bonus or last big commission check.  Guess what they do after that they get that money?  They quit their current job and that leaves openings for you!!  So, if you are already in that company’s database when the internal HR recruiter takes a look, the software algorithm they use will likely make your name and resume show up – ready for an interview. And best of all from the company’s point-of-view,  you are a FREE hire!

Good companies, smart companies, do not over-think about why someone may be unemployed.  They just want qualified people, but they do not want to pay a fee for those people, IF they can avoid it.  Of course, there are exceptions to this, like everything, but think about what I am saying and it will make you feel better about why recruiters may not be jumping to help you.  Even when they do help, you may interview well but lose the job because of the fee, so avoid it when you can and contact the company yourself.  You have the time to do all this …right?   Hiring companies just have a hard time justifying paying a recruiter a fee and they want to know you are smart enough to have figured this out and contacted them yourself, before the recruiter has arranged an interview. That does not mean all the recruiters you contact should not have your resume, it’s just not something you can rely on.  Most recruiters that I know, and I know all of our competitors, are good people and will be happy to help you if they can, and I am sure would give you similar advice.  They do not think you are hapless or hopeless, it’s just that their clients pay them for a different search model. 

There is a bright light for you at the end of the tunnel.  Reenergize yourself and count on yourself not a recruiter to find you a job.  I am calling you to discuss this, right after I hand this article in to my editor.



*If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or crisis, please reach out immediately to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-272-8255