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On this site I see many answers and comments that say it is easy to find another job. Yet I have read statistics that say that 6 months is reasonable, and perhaps much longer. My brother, an experienced developer and manager of developers, looked for 2 years recently.

I also see job listings go unfilled for many months, and reappear over and over under different recruiting companies' names. I think some of these positions are still unfilled after a year. And I am in one of "Forbes best places to live".

For some strange reason, this process is not easy for either side, and I thought that computers should have made it basically an instant, push-button match-up. (Don't get me started on the effectiveness of dating sites.)

What accounts for the persistent advice that changing jobs, or employees, is basically trivial?

  • 5
    Voting to close. Your premise is based on nothing but hearsay and confirmation bias and is almost certainly incorrect. Not many people would say that job searching is easy these days and it's certainly not a statement that I see anyone on this site making without a lot of qualifiers. Enderland has an excellent answer so perhaps this can be edited to "Why is it hard to find a new job?" instead. – Lilienthal Jan 15 '16 at 9:39
  • Answers here are almost never a simple "do this" type of solution. There are usually pros/cons, which the better answers lay out. You may need to read more questions/answers, or post your actual question that you wanted to have answered and add a caveat like "please don't suggest to change jobs; etc." – Brandin Jan 15 '16 at 9:43
  • Keep in mind when reading enderland's answer that the job search process--on both sides--is a highly subjective, highly social process. It happens very often that the golfing buddy got that nice job because he's "a really cool" guy, and not as a result of merit. That's a myth. If you're not convinced, then take a look at all the incompetency in the world. I have colleagues that undergo periodic, masturbatory ego-stroking to the tune of I'm so great. No, you were in the right time and place, and--especially--you knew the right people. It took me a long time to get used to that idea. – Joel DeWitt Jan 15 '16 at 16:03
  • It can be easy to find another job if you are very qualified and if the market is right. However, when people are advised to look for another job it is not because finding another one is easy but usually because they are in an untenable situation. For instance in one question a company hired someone who had twice been accused of rape and a young female employee found that he was making sexually aggressive moves towards her. Her best bet is to leave before it escalates. It may not be easy to find another job, it is necessary. – HLGEM Jan 15 '16 at 19:50
  • As to finding new employees some of that has to do with what the company is offering and what level of employee they need. Some places have a backlog of qualified candidates and some don't. There is no one size fits all. However it is often still worth the time and cost getting a new employee if the current employee is performing badly or damaging the company. That doesn't mean it is easy, just that the results for the company are better. If you had ever managed or worked with a truly incompetent person, you would understand this. Some people can be retrained to be good, some can't. – HLGEM Jan 15 '16 at 19:55
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If you have a great network, skillset that is super in demand, or reputation? Then yes, it is easy to get a different job because people need to hire people like you.

But.. here are some reasons why it is hard:

  1. Traditional job applications suck. No one would disagree that the normal "fire resume, pray for interview" technique is the most common approach, but it's what nearly everyone does to apply for jobs. For reasons listed in the following it's not that good.
    • As a result, it's far better to have a network and bypass as much of this process as possible. This is harder and requires a lot more investment of time than the "fire and pray" approach though.
  2. Many if not most applicants are not qualified. Sorting the wheat from the chaff makes it hard. It takes time. An assumption you are making is that all candidates are perfectly self-evaluating (haha) and can just match their skills to available jobs.
  3. Most companies/people are bad at interviewing. It's better to get a false negative than a false positive, given the huge cost with a new employee. A mistake in hiring might be easily $100k net (not to mention any 'damage' they do to your company). And it's damn hard to know from a few hours "can this person do the job?" It's sometimes really easy to know "no" but getting a "yes" is difficult.
    • Companies also might want a person with a very specific setup of experiences and ignore people who could do the job, but don't fit their expectations perfectly. Hiring a brown painter instead of a painter is a great article making this point.
  4. It's hard to evaluate -- or show skill in -- knowledge work. This might be a subpoint of the previous item, but it is very difficult to measure the effectiveness of knowledge workers. It is also difficult to convey this, either through a resume or interview.
  5. Job applications take a long time anyways. I recently interviewed for a position. After my first phone interview to a formal offer was almost a full month and the process felt fast to me. A phone interview, homework exercise, onsite interview, final interview and offer take a long time.
    • Add in a decision maker, other candidate, HR, etc on vacation, holiday, and now you add more weeks into the process pretty easily.
  6. The more experienced you are, the less jobs you 'fit.' As you progress in your career you will be more valuable but perhaps not as good of fit for some jobs. A senior probably would not be accepted for a junior position, for example.
  7. Some companies keep "open" positions even if they don't have a need. It's not uncommon for companies who would hire a great candidate to have an open position and repost it indefinitely, wanting to not turn away really awesome people who see no openings, but not really intending to hire.

Also keep in mind if a job opening gets 100 applications, it might be tempting to think "great, take the top 5, get some of the top 5% employees out there, interview them, profit" or something like this. But the reality is you are selecting the top 5 from those looking for jobs which is generally not the most qualified people. So of those 100 applicants you might have a small list who 1) are qualified, 2) can do the job, and 3) fit your company.

  • Great answer with lots of good points, thank you! For #1, I really do not know how to develop a network. Maybe I should ask about this (and collect another closed Q). I would like to help with #3, I think I would be great at interviewing. For #5, I had a stellar interview, was told they would call me the next day. Got a call that I was chosen 2 months later. #6 seems very depressing. I am reminded of how in the military, "General" stands for "General Officer", meaning they should be able to do anything. In Start Trek, the Captain knows how to rewire a photon torpedo if he has to. #7. Sick. – user37746 Jan 15 '16 at 2:15
  • @nocomprende regarding networking, check out this answer which is basically the answer you are wanting – enderland Jan 15 '16 at 2:24
  • @nocomprende, don't take your workplace advice from Star Trek or any other entertainment. No the Captain of a ship cannot and should not be able to do anything. Being a leader is a hard job all its own. He will not have a had every job on the ship or even most of them by the time he reaches that place. And no Army Generals can't do any technical job either, they are officers which means they likely have never done a technical job, they have always been a manager of people. And very few senior people who are no longer considered for lower jobs want to do them, so it is not depressing at all. – HLGEM Jan 15 '16 at 19:46