2011 Job Seeker Call-In Report: Callers Frustrated, Nearly Half Out of Work Over a Year

Download the report here.

While accelerated job creation failed to materialize in 2011, callers to an annual job-search advice hotline were more optimistic than a year ago, as nearly 30 percent estimated they would find a new job within three months, up from 18 percent who said the same in 2010.

However, even as the percentage of optimistic callers surged from a year ago, so did the percent of those predicting it would take more than a year to find employment.  Ten percent of the job seekers felt the job search would last more than 12 months, compared to four percent who anticipated a prolonged job search last year.

The results are based on a random sampling of 600 callers to a job-search advice helpline offered annually by global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.  Over the two-day event, the firm’s professional counselors helped more than 1,000 job seekers, 77 percent of whom were unemployed.  That is down only slightly from the previous two years, when 81 percent of callers were out of work.

“There was a lot more uncertainty a year ago.  Almost half of last year’s callers had no idea how long the job search would take.  This year, callers were either certain of the job market’s improvement or certain of its continued weakness,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, referring to the increase in both optimistic and pessimistic callers.

The percentage of callers expecting the job search to last 7 to 9 months increased from six percent a year ago to 14 percent this year.  The percentage expecting a 10- to 12-month job search surged to 12 percent, after peaking at 2.4 percent in 2010.

“Overall, the majority of callers – 65 percent – felt they would find a job in six months or less.  That is a pretty realistic assessment.   In a healthy economy, a successful job search might take two to three months.  In a tight job market, such as the one we are in now, it is not unusual to see even high- quality candidates take four to six months,” said Challenger.

Among the unemployed callers, 37 percent have been out of work for one to six months.  Another 14 percent have been jobless for 7 to 12 months.  As an indication of how tight the job market remains, the remaining 50 percent of callers had been jobless for a year or more, with 60 percent of these long-time job seekers out of work for two years or longer.

“Some of those out of the workforce for two or more years were retirees or stay-at-home mothers, hoping to make a return to the labor pool.  However, many were simply job seekers who have been unable to land a job.  And, when you get to that point in the job search, it is difficult to keep the frustration and negative feelings at bay, which can harm the job search further,” said Challenger.

“Our counselors’ primary objective was to restore hope by providing some new strategies to jump-start their job search.  And there is plenty of reason for hope.  Announced layoffs outside of the government sector are at levels not seen since the late 1990s.  The private sector has steadily added jobs over the past year, albeit at too slow a pace to make a significant dent in unemployment, but there definitely is hiring in this market,” said Challenger.

In fact, the latest monthly survey of employers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that employers nationwide hired 4,040,000 new workers in October and that there were still another 3.3 million job openings at the end of the month.

“This survey has shown that employers have been hiring about four million new workers per month for several months running.  Many of these hires are to replace retirees, former workers who quit or those terminated for cause.  Whatever the reason, it is imperative that job seekers believe that they can be among the next four million people hired,” said Challenger.

“There are a lot of things people can do to improve their chances of being among those four million new hires.  The one thing they should not do is simply sit at a computer all day, responding to online help-wanted ads,” Challenger advised.

“Answering ads is just one part of the job search; and it is probably the least effective.  Classified ads, whether online or in the newspaper, represent a small fraction of the available jobs out there – perhaps as small as 20 percent.  The hidden job market, representing as much as 80 percent of the available jobs, can only be accessed through aggressive networking, cold-calling and persistence,” said Challenger.

The hidden job market is the hardest to uncover, a frustration felt by many callers, 27 percent of whom said the most difficult part of the job search is finding openings.  In the same vein, another 24 percent said the biggest challenge is getting interviews.

“A big part of a successful job search is being in the right place, at the right time.  To do this, you have to cast the widest net possible.  Your network should include friends, family, former business associates, former college professors, fellow college alumni, etc.  You basically need to broadcast to your entire universe of acquaintances that you are looking for a job,” said Challenger.

“We strongly urge job seekers to take advantage of social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.  Even if you can only add 10 people at first, those 10 people are each going to know at least 10 more people who know 10 more people.  You might just be two links away from someone who can get you in the door for an interview,” he concluded.

# # #

2011 CHALLENGER CALL-IN SURVEY RESULTS

Gender

2011

2010

2009

Female

54%

53.3%

50%

Male

46%

46.7%

50%

Are you unemployed?

2011

2010

2009

Yes

77%

80.8%

81%

No

23%

19.2%

19%

If unemployed, how long have you been out of work

2011

2010

1 – 3 Months

20.1%

19.1%

4 – 6 Months

16.6%

18.4%

7 – 9 Months

5.1%

8.1%

10 – 12 Months

8.6%

6.9%

More than a year

49.6%

47.5%

How long do you think it will take to find new position?

2011

2010

1 – 3 Months

28%

18.4%

4 – 6 Months

37%

21.1%

7 – 9 Months

14%

5.7%

10 – 12 Months

12%

2.4%

More than a year

10%

4.3%

Don’t know

0%

48.1%


Top Most Difficult Part of the Job Search*
Preparing the resume

5%

Getting interviews

24%

Networking

12%

Finding job openings

27%

Performing well in the interview

6%

Dealing with rejection

4%

Filling out applications

2%

Other

20%

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

One thought on “2011 Job Seeker Call-In Report: Callers Frustrated, Nearly Half Out of Work Over a Year

  1. Pingback: 2011 Job Seeker Call-In Report: Callers Frustrated, Nearly Half Out … | Job Offers

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