Unrealistic expectations amid the country’s continued unemployment struggles are a double-edged sword that can cut equally into the well-being of job seekers and the companies that hire them, says a University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) strategic management expert.
More than 6 million Americans have lost their jobs since the start of the country’s most recent recession in 2008, and new jobs data released by the U.S. Department of Labor March 5 shows another 36,000 jobs were lost in February, leaving the country’s unemployment rate at 9.7%.
“Job seekers must set realistic goals,” Vickie Cox Edmondson, PhD, associate professor in the UAB School of Business, said in a press release. “They have to look at what is happening in their industry and understand what is happening in the larger economy and set sensible goals for obtaining new employment — and that could mean a search as long as 8 to 12 months if not more.”
Unemployed professionals are facing a job market not seen in decades, according to Edmondson. She says with so many out-of-work job candidates from which to choose, the few companies hiring can seek their most ideal candidate.
“There are thousands of job-seeking professionals who are over-qualified for the limited positions out there, and that is forcing many borderline job candidates out of the running for positions for which they potentially would have been good fits just a couple of months ago,” Edmondson said. “People looking for a job must understand that employers can say no to you more quickly and easily because they have so many qualified applicants. This reality must factor into jobseekers expectations for finding new employment or they will be sorely disappointed.”
Edmondson says employers who recently have hired or may consider hiring ahead of any period of sustained economic growth also must manage expectations of workforce loyalty.
“Those employers now adding jobs may think they are setting themselves up well for the time when production increases and the economy turns around, but companies could easily lose staff if management teams are not realistic about how employees are being used,” Edmondson said.
Employers should ensure that over-qualified workers have opportunities to grow in their roles as productivity increases. If there is no plan for promoting underused talent through the ranks, companies risk losing employees as they seek growth opportunities elsewhere when the job market and economy rebound.