Bosses should expect a sharp uptick in being told where to stick it, as job-quitting season is about to dawn.
(Job quitting season is a bit like El Nino. You’re never quite sure if it’s about to start until the heat is on. But early signs are good.)
1. Today’s unemployment data show the trend in unemployment is finally pointing downwards. The first time since 2012.
Today’s data were kind of big news. Of course, the unemployment rate fell a lot in March. All the way down from over 6 per cent to 5.8 per cent. So much that it seemed like statistical noise. The fact April has given the same result is amazing.
This means – maybe – you can quit your job and the unemployment rate gets better while you look for a job, not worse!
2. Unlike last month, this result is driven by a lift in full-time jobs, which rose by 14,000.
3. Unlike recent years, the improvement in the unemployment rate is not caused by fewer and fewer people bothering to look for work. The movement in the participation rate this month was rounded to zero.
4. The number of new jobs being advertised is on the up and up. For most of the past few years, Seek.com.au has been an ever more arid wasteland.
But now it is starting to blossom with opportunities. In each of the last four months, the number of jobs advertised in Australia has risen – that’s the best positive streak since 2010. Get amongst it.
Don’t feel bad about quitting your job. It could be good for the economy. This paper suggests you probably will self-select out of a job where your productivity is relatively low. The US even tracks the number of people quitting jobs as a measure of confidence.
A few people I know are currently looking for work. I began to wonder if combing through advertised jobs is enough, and thought a little sample of my own experience might help answer that question.
1996. My first ever job was selling ice-creams at a festival in Melbourne called Moomba. I got the job through a friend’s dad. Pay and conditions were great. Ad: 0%. Luck: 0%. Inside running: 100%.
1998 After I finished school I got a job as a busboy at a cafe in a shopping centre. It wasn’t advertised but I handed my resume out to 20 businesses near my house and this one had an employee quit the next day. $8.50 an hour in cash seemed pretty good to me. Ad: 0%. Luck: 100%. Inside running: 0%.
2000 I became a waiter at Pancake Parlour. Pay was a whopping $7.27 an hour. It was an advertised job for which I went through a quite involved interview process. Ad: 100%. Luck: 0%. Inside running: 0%.
2001 Waiter at italian restaurant. Through a friend. I lasted about three weeks. Ad: 0%. Luck: 0%. Inside running: 100%.
2002. Market research interviewer. A friend who worked there told me the place was hiring. Great pay and conditions so I joined the union. Ended up doing market research for big tobacco, but I didn’t mind because smokers loved to chat about smoking. It beat asking people about banks. Ad: 80%. Luck: 0%. Inside running: 20%.
2003 I applied to an ad for an English teacher in the small town of Qinhuangdao, China, where I found I could go months without seeing another foreigner. Ad: 100%. Luck: 0%. Inside running: 0%.
2004. I parlayed my meagre teaching experience into a job as a tutor in the first-year economics subjects, which was among the best and most convenient jobs for a student ever. Ad: 100%. Luck: 0%. Inside running: 0%
2005. My first full time job. I became a graduate Treasury policy analyst, living in Canberra.Ad: 100%. Luck: 0%. Inside running: 0%
2005. Ski instructing at Perisher Blue. A week-long “hiring clinic” for which you have to pay hundreds of dollars serves as both interview process and training. Ad: 100%. Luck: 0%. Inside running: 0%
2008. Nauru budget adviser. I happened to have just finished my tutoring contract when I was asked by someone I knew in the federal government to come to an interview. I don’t think they interviewed anyone else.
Ad: 0%. Luck: 20%. Inside running: 80%
2009 Victorian government policy officer. Through a recruitment company. Ad: 0%. Luck: 0%. Inside running: 0% (I’d say it was 100 per cent luck but luck should be good and this job wasn’t.)
2010. Journalist at the Financial Review – I applied at a timely moment when a bunch of people had quit. But there was no job advertised and I had someone on the inside put in a good word for me. Ad: 0%. Luck: 30%. Inside running: 70%
2013 – Freelance writing. I sell things mostly to people I know from my other jobs, but also via some cold calling. Ad: 0%. Luck: 20%. Inside running: 80%
After having had 17 jobs, just six came from simply seeing an ad and applying. My crude averaging of the numbers (including some jobs I didn’t go into above) says ads explain 46 per cent of my jobs, inside running 32 per cent, and luck 22 per cent.
(I should note luck played a pretty big part in being born to a family that cared a lot about education and invested in my future. It also doesn’t hurt to be in a bunch of categories that are unfamiliar with the sting of discrimination. Is my experience strongly shaped by these privileges?)
Economic theory suggests a great benefit and a great cost. If firms are able to fill jobs quickly and minimise their search costs, that could be an advantage. But if it means they miss out on the best human resources, they suffer.
This expert recommends job hunters should spend: “20% of the time responding to job postings … another 20% ensuring your resume and LinkedIn profile are easy to find and worth reading, and the remaining 60% networking to find jobs in the hidden market.”
If my experience holds for everyone, its going to be advantageous to keep working in the same city, or at least the same country, where you have a bunch of connections. It also doesn’t hurt to be on LinkedIn.
But I want to know if the same is true for you. Have you got your jobs by responding to ads and going through rigorous processes? Have you been lucky? Made your own luck? Deliberately developed and used your networks? Please share your experience in the comments! (Look for the words “Leave A Reply” below)