Recently a friend called me to ask if I had any leads to help her find a part-time administrative assistant.
Julia (not her real name) said she had posted an opening on the state employment office's website, but after three weeks, only one qualified applicant had applied. She did not want to use one of the many private employment firms, feeling that the extra 2-3 dollars an hour they pocketed for their service didn't reflect the value of the services they offered to manage just one employee.
In a town of just over 50K with a well-respected technical college that seemed odd. I decided to look for her posting.
I discovered that the heretofore in-house state managed job listing had been turned over to one of those internet-based job posting firms. A call to the local state employment office netted me a referral to the website.
First of all, I couldn't find her posting through the keyword search function, using "administrative assistant". Only when I used her specific business name did the listing finally appear. Predictably, the posting was titled "Office help wanted". At no point in the posting did the words "administrative assistant" appear.
Interestingly, the posting did show up on Glassdoor and Indeed using the keyword "office". The information did re-direct to the state sponsored website, leading me to wonder why only one person had managed to navigate through the maze to actually reply.
I surmise that most of the people looking for work locally weren't using these sites to search for openings. Typically, local employees tend to use local searches, like the employment office or newspapers.
That points up the problems with our keyword and SEO oriented age.
If the person searching isn't using the same descriptors you are, you might never connect.
I referred Julia to the local college employment office, and had her re-write her ad so it would search more effectively. I also suggested that she run a help-wanted ad in the local paper, since it has both a print and online presence, and that's where she finally found her new employee.
After revising her ad, she received over 50 responses, and of those 50, almost half were well-qualified for the position.
In all of this research, I did notice that there were almost no truly small businesses using the new state job search resource. Most of the listings for openings were from government or large institutional or retail employers.
That leads me to wonder whether there is truly a "shortage of people that want to work" or is it that they can't find each other?
Addendum: If you are looking for work and can't find openings in your town, feel free to contact me as well. Where are you looking, and why aren't you connecting with employers?