We’ve been hearing for ages that unemployment is high, which is pretty inarguably true. However, the process by which unemployment is calculated is a little more interesting than you might think. And, depending on which process you use, the numbers can be wildly different. Let’s take an in-depth look at what exactly unemployment numbers mean, and what you as a job seeker can learn from them.
Unemployment for June held steady at 8.2 percent. This number is calculated by Household Data surveys. 60,000 households— a representative sample— are surveyed regarding their employment status. The 8.2 percent unemployment rate for each month only includes unemployed people who have actively sought employment— submitted an application, went to an interview, etc.— in the last four weeks. It does not include people who have given up looking for a job, the underemployed, or recent grads who haven’t found a job yet. In fact, people who fall into these categories are deemed “marginally attached to the workforce” and are not factored at all into the calculation of the official unemployment rate (total unemployed / total labor force).
This means that the “real” unemployment rate is actually quite a bit higher. Once you factor in people who have given up looking for a job, people working part-time because they can’t find full-time work and recent grads, June’s unemployment rate was 15.1 percent. For a confusing but enlightening afternoon activity, try visiting the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. The information I just presented is from table A-15.
So what does this mean for you as a job seeker? Tempting as it is to just hide in Mom’s basement, instead use what you know about the numbers to impact how you look for jobs. Lots of jobs that you might find on national job boards are going to attract a ton of applicants. You know they’re out there, because 8.2 percent of the population is actively looking for work. I found a job on LinkedIn a few weeks ago that had already received 200 applicants. Yikes!
Avoid these types of situations. Applicant #151 for that job online was doing a disservice both to themselves and the poor hiring managers. Don’t waste your time applying for jobs that are very likely to have an unreasonable number of applicants. Instead, focus on networking to get the inside scoop on jobs before they open to the public. Check out this article on why you should never make a cold call again. Since you know there are a lot of applicants out there, do your best to not be one of the nameless masses: send employers a profile video along with your cover letter and resume. It’s a great way to show them your passion and your communication skills while also making you stand out from the pack. Spark Hire is a great platform to record a profile video. Don’t forget to rock your personal brand. Call in that favor. Let knowing the actual job climate empower you, not discourage you.
What do you do to combat the crummy job market? Or do you just need to vent a little bit? Leave a comment below or tweet me: @ithinkther4iamb