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Jenny Floren

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Like a Needle in a Haystack - Employers and Gen Y Missing the Mark

Posted: 10/12/10 01:41 PM ET

Right now, many college students across the nation are cruising around campus without too many a cares in the world. On the other hand, many recent alumni are encountering the harsh realities of working nine-to-five at jobs that quite frankly are a rough fit for both them and their employers. And in worse scenarios, some recent alumni are encountering the frustrations of the job search process from the comfort of their parents' couches.

A piece from Mark Whitehouse in the Wall Street Journal stated that even with a 9.5 percent jobless rate and some 15 million Americans looking for work, many employers are still running into walls when it comes to actually finding candidates to fill open positions. Whitehouse goes on to talk about how this core issue directly affects the economy's ability to grow, and how for certain positions, employers are experiencing the opposite end of the spectrum with a barrage of resumes and yet too few solid candidate choices.

All of this got me thinking. How is it that there are so many people, including Millennials, looking for jobs and yet employers are still saying they're struggling to find the right candidates? Additionally, how can we help employers - and, in doing so, help job seekers - address the "needle in a haystack" phenomenon of having too many applicants to sift through in order to identify the right fit candidate, with the proper level of expertise?

In my opinion, the answer lies in applying innovative technology to bridge these gaps. And I'm not talking job boards and broad-based job search engines; I'm talking job-seeker and employer-specific technology that aims to help both sides find the right fit, the first time around.

We all know that tools for America's job seekers are vast and varied. Unfortunately, this vastness can lead to dead end jobs or short-term employment where both the employee and employer lose - often from a financial (employer) and emotional or professional (employee) standpoint. Let's face it, no one likes losing and in tough times, such as those we're attempting to tackle right now, we simply can't afford the time and cost associated with mediocre job placement resources and tools.

For students and alumni, it's crucial that they begin thinking about their future careers from the moment they step onto campus. These days, the internships you land during college are seen as your first foray into the workforce. These are no longer viewed as menial experiences; they're slowly being considered as entry-level jobs. In addition to proper training and self-promotion through social channels, students and recent alumni must have a strong sense of their personality types and thinking styles. More so, they must be able to articulate their personality types, thinking styles and actual life experiences in an effective job interview story. Notice how I didn't say resume. What students and recent grads must realize is the importance of being able to translate education and school-related experiences (I was president of my sorority or captain of the basketball team) into real world, workforce attributes. Take below as a more detailed example of what I'm talking about:

"I was president of my sorority" vs. "I was president of my sorority and acted as a liaison between our 50-plus members and schools officials, and served on the Pan-Hellenic Council which provided a unified voice for the six sororities and fraternities on campus."

For employers, the job search process can often seem like a time-suck and a high stakes game of hit-or-miss. And, circling back to the Wall Street Journal article I reference above, employers are often encountering one of the following: 1) a huge pool of candidates that are grossly unqualified for the job at hand, or 2) an overall underwhelming response for a particular job opportunity. At first glance, these two extreme ends of the spectrum can seem insurmountable or, at the very least, expensive. To address these issues, it's vital that employers get a feel for the resources available to them beyond the over-saturated head hunters and job boards of our day. Employers should seek out technology that will help streamline the candidate selection process and address the two issues stated above. Technology that combines employer criteria, in-depth candidate information and job-specific knowledge about what it takes to be successful in different types of positions can make a difference between a dead-on match and a major mistake. Sooner rather than later, the days of wading through hundreds of resumes and lofty financial investments related to recruiting will be a distant memory as employers find innovative, cost-effective technology to address hiring hurdles and dreaded employee turnover costs.

Now is the time to focus our efforts on finding ways to more effectively connect entry-level employees with companies desperately looking to hire qualified workers. While we know that the economic strife we've endured and the job issues we've shouldered are far from gone, we also know that innovation and technological advancement hold the potential to address some of the issues that employers and job seekers are encountering. As the nation continues to digest and fight back against high rates of unemployment, we hope employers and job seekers rethink their strategies and the role technology can play to end the "needle in a haystack" phenomenon.

Jenny Floren is the founder and CEO of Boston-based Experience.com , the leader in running Career Center websites for U.S. Colleges and Universities today. To date, the company has helped more than 4.2 million students and alumni and over 100,000 employers.