Thursday, December 9, 2010

Layoffs ebb, but job-hunting has gotten no easier

Edward Scissorhands
From the looks of the numbers posted on the Paper Cuts blog, layoffs and buyouts at U.S. newspapers this year are well off the torrid pace seen in 2008 and 2009.

For 2010, says the blog, newspapers have cut loose some 2,800 employees -- which during the depths of the recession came close to the numbers it was posting for individual months. The job-loss total compiled so far this year compares with close to 16,000 layoffs/ buyouts in 2008 and just under 15,000 in 2009.

But while the blood-letting in newspapers may have abated, we're not close to replacing all of the jobs lost -- just ask any of us journalists laid off then and still not back in a newsroom.

And I've got to tell you the environment for job-hunters hasn't improved very much -- in the news business or elsewhere. All along, there's been a rushed and rude overtone that just hasn't gone away. Here are my latest gripes:
  • Left dangling: I happened to land two job nibbles in the same afternoon: w00t! I thought. I interviewed for both jobs (one in person, one via conference call with two top editors) and did editing/writing for each newspaper/website. But here it is, two months later, and I still don't know where on I stand on either position, despite several attempts at follow-up. Yes, the silence speaks volumes, but actual closure would be nice.
  • Little acknowledgement: What is it with academia? Granted, my exposure there is limited, but twice I've sent résumés in response to postings by colleges and both times the only acknowledgement of my application was a form to fill out that will help the college show it is complying with equal opportunity hiring laws. Months later, in both cases, a polite letter arrived saying I was an unsuccessful candidate -- with no communication in between.
  • No acknowledgement: More often than not, the response is no response at all -- ever. Not to your application, not to any inquiries you make (if you're lucky enough to find an actual person to make an inquiry to), not on their final decision on the position. (You usually discover the position has been filled when the successful candidate announces his/her new job.)
This -- how shall I phrase it? -- SUCKS!

Thankfully, the so-called candidate experience seems to be an ongoing topic in HR circles, judging from postings I've seen occasionally and, more recently, the discussion at a recruiting conference (video below). And it appears that development of a Candidate Bill of Rights (process, status, confidentiality) has been discussed, although not everyone sees a need for it.

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