07/30/2012 05:09 pm ET | Updated Nov 13, 2012

To Combat Unemployment, Improve Job Search Options

After a few months of disappointing job creation numbers, unemployment in our country remains stubbornly high. The national rate is 8.2 percent, but some states have it worse than others -- California, Nevada and Rhode Island have percentages of 10.8, 11.6 and 11.0, respectively. The jobs picture is even bleaker when the deteriorating underemployment rate is taken into consideration. Nationwide, our underemployment rate is a staggering 14.9 percent.

With so many Americans willing and able to work, it should be simple for recruiters, human resource professionals and hiring managers to find qualified talent to fill job openings. But companies are increasingly complaining that they simply can't find workers with the right skills to fill their job vacancies, especially when it comes to our country's abundance of high-skill jobs in technology, engineering, healthcare, and other fields. Others have suggested that it's poor communication within companies that prevents them from identifying viable candidates.

In reality, workers' qualifications and company blunders caused by overwork and growing stress in the workplace have little to do with connecting job seekers and jobs. What's really happening is that job seekers -- employed, unemployed, or underemployed -- are being underserved by the job search options available to them.

Job search engines remain one of the most popular methods for locating jobs. To job seekers, job search engines seem much more efficient than alterior online options like locating companies within their industry in their desired locations, then navigating their websites for open positions. As is commonly known, search engines pull relevant positions based on keywords, completing all of the tedious work for job seekers. What's more, the option of posting one's resume to a job board and waiting for recruiters, human resource professionals, and hiring managers to find them seems ideal.

But search engine optimization is changing; basic keyword searches are becoming less relevant as semantic search technology increases the human element in all search engines. And blind resume blasts fall short of impressing headhunters and even hurt job seekers' personal brands.

Today's most popular job search engines are more focused on serving the needs of recruiters, employers, and advertisers instead of the needs of job seekers, which is contributing to high unemployment and underemployment and overall dissatisfaction in the job search. To really help job seekers find jobs, job search platforms must obsess over job seekers and focus solely on solving the unemployment problem from their perspective for their benefit. The job search process must be made faster, smarter, and easier.

My company, Jackalope Jobs, is attempting just that. Our web-based platform consolidates the practice of finding a new job through its intelligent search process. It pulls more than two million job openings from around the Web and examines Facebook, LinkedIn, and Plaxo social profiles for connections job seekers can leverage to get them the jobs they want and deserve. Jackalope Jobs is more than a traditional keyword-search platform; it's a forward-thinking tool that harnesses the power of who you know to get you where you want to be.

The power of social connections in the job search is evident by the mass amount of blog posts and news articles touting the importance of networking in the job search published daily. But it's even more evident by the job seeker success stories that trickle into my company, like the story of Dwight.

Dwight is a Marine who works in the construction industry. He used Jackalope Jobs after a two-year work hiatus and discovered several openings for which he qualified. An opening of particular interest had expired by the time he found it, but rather than close the books on the job, he reached out to a connection he had in common with the company. The pair discussed Dwight's work and personal background, at the end of which the connection encouraged him to apply for a second job available at the company. The job went to an internal candidate, but Dwight was then considered for a third position. The third position, like the second, was offered to another candidate, but Dwight was interviewed for a fourth job within the company, which led to a job offer.

What's so interesting about Dwight's story is that the last three opportunities unveiled by his connection were never advertised. It's very likely that Dwight would have never discovered the position he has today without forward-thinking job search technology.

That's why, to combat national unemployment, job search engines must constantly strive to improve the job search process, focusing on the needs of job seekers and not those of the recruiters, employers, and advertisers. Job search engines must humanize the job search and leverage connections to reveal hidden opportunities that would have otherwise been missed. Improve today's job search options beginning with job search engines and unemployment will improve, too.