Securing a job in the current climate can feel akin to landing a winning lottery ticket, considering the challenging odds.

I've habitually aimed to participate in a couple of interviews each month as a way of gauging my professional value in the market, a habit I cultivated back in 2017. This approach is one I frequently recommend to peers and followers, although I must admit, I fell out of this practice last year. The job market seemed to grow more competitive, with an approximate ratio of 6K to 8K applicants vying for a single position.

The most recent interview I managed to get last year was for a position that had 156 competing applicants. Reflecting on today's numbers now, it's clear the intensity of the competition. Although the numbers fluctuate, there are instances where job openings attract between six to eight thousand applicants, largely dependent on the type of role on offer. However, the scenario isn't universally grim. A friend who works as a QA manager reported an average of 200 candidates for the roles he's been targeting.

Based on my observations, entry-level and high-paying jobs tend to attract the most candidates. Aside from these two categories, it's safe to say that the overall numbers have increased compared to the previous year, ranging between 400 to 800 applicants per job as opposed to the earlier average of 200.

It seems reasonable for LinkedIn to cap the number of candidates for each job at 200, allowing recruiters to select from this pool. If they are unable to find a suitable candidate, the position could be reopened to another batch of 200 applicants, ensuring no repeats from the previous lot.

Selecting the best candidate from a pool of 100 is already a formidable task, let alone making a choice from thousands of applicants. If incorporating the suggested feature presents an overwhelming task for LinkedIn, it might be prudent for the recruiting companies to establish a limit to manage the influx of applications effectively.

Indeed, if job seekers feel like they're attempting to win the lottery, hiring managers might well liken their search for the right candidate to the elusive hunt for Bigfoot. It leads me to ponder the extent to which this chaos is precipitated by the involvement of non-technical recruiters. Often, their primary method of selection is keyword matching, a process that may overlook the subtleties of a candidate's skillset due to their lack of specialist knowledge. This can potentially obscure the true value of an applicant and make distinguishing the right candidate from the crowd a challenging task.

The current scenario indeed paints an interesting picture. I often find myself inundated with messages from recruiters wishing to recommend me for a Java developer role. If only they understood the distinct difference between Java and JavaScript, such misconceptions could significantly reduce the influx of LinkedIn messages, perhaps by half.

Few other activities offer the potential for referral-based earnings ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 as effortlessly. I can't help but consider that the heightened intensity of technical interviews might be a byproduct of these recruiters sending in an excessive number of candidates for each position.

While the competition can be fierce for candidates, from a recruiter's perspective, it might seem like a game they've already won. Their logic might run along the lines of, "As long as one of my candidates secures the job, it doesn't matter which one. The strategy is simply to send as many as possible." The impact this has on the quality of the hiring process, however, is significant.

Indeed, the massive influx of applicants might lead hiring managers to aim for the "cream of the crop". They need a method to rapidly eliminate the majority of applicants, narrowing down to a final shortlist of around 4 to 8 candidates. This necessity has led to the rise of platforms like HackerRank, AlgoExpert, Topcoder, and others that prepare candidates for algorithmic exams. These sites also host challenging tests on behalf of companies to filter out those who can excel at them.

However, while aiming for the best, it's remarkable how often hiring managers end up selecting a less than optimal candidate. With algorithmic tests as the primary deciding factor, there's a risk of favouring individuals who have merely mastered these specific exam patterns over those with comprehensive skills. In other words, someone who might struggle with the actual job requirements can dedicate their time to mastering these tests, thereby potentially skewing the selection process.

Certainly, it's rare to find two companies using identical technologies. In such a scenario, looking for a candidate who may not be an exact match but has the aptitude to learn and adapt seems like a pragmatic approach. However, with an applicant pool numbering in the thousands, the temptation to find someone who matches to a greater extent is understandably strong. After all, a candidate with a 95% match may require less onboarding time compared to another with a 90% match.

In this pursuit of the 'perfect' fit, the concept of 'good enough' seems to have lost its value. If you can get a luxury vehicle like a Lamborghini for the price of a Toyota Corolla, it might seem foolish not to seize the opportunity. However, what hiring managers often overlook is that high-demand candidates - those matching the role's requirements to a high degree - can be just as challenging to retain. Their in-demand skills and talents make them desirable to other companies, and as the job market recalibrates, these individuals are likely to seek better opportunities.

Job descriptions can indeed reveal much more than just the role's responsibilities; they can also provide insight into the position's history and the company's culture. I once observed a situation at a reputable firm where a female colleague found herself progressively shouldering the responsibilities of team members who had left the organization. This shift didn't happen abruptly, which might be why it went unnoticed, somewhat akin to the 'boiling frog' phenomenon. However, after several years, it was evident she was managing tasks typically handled by three to four individuals. It raised a question in my mind: What happens when she decides to leave? Would the company advertise her responsibilities as one position or divide them into multiple roles?

Often in the job market, one encounters roles overloaded with responsibilities, essentially combining tasks formerly handled by multiple people. I strongly advise job seekers to steer clear of such positions. If a job appears excessively burdened with responsibilities, it could be a red flag, indicative of a company culture that overworks and potentially exploits its employees.

In spite of the challenging job market conditions, and with the anticipation that things might get worse, there are pragmatic steps that one can take to maximize their chances of landing a job.

Drawing a parallel to how some individuals invest in buying up all remaining lottery numbers, hoping that a win would cover their expenses and yield substantial profit, the same logic applies to job applications - increase your application rate. There are critics of this approach who warn against "spamming job boards", but they’re silly as though they're concerned around you overloading the servers or databases of someoneels. However, without throwing your hat in the ring, how can you stand a chance?

Don't pour over job descriptions in detail. Focus on the job title and requirements. The detailed description and company history become relevant when you're shortlisted for an interview. Aim to apply for 20 to 30 jobs per day, with a monthly target of sending out 1000 applications. This method might increase your odds of success.

It's hard to predict the duration of a job search in this unpredictable climate. Some people might find themselves unemployed for months, while others might face years of joblessness. In such circumstances, it's crucial to secure employment, any job really, as most households require $2,000 to $3,000 per month for basic sustenance. This is an income that can be earned in a variety of roles.

If the job search is prolonged, you need to ensure your survival and maintain a positive outlook. Remember, practice leads to proficiency, and if you find yourself unemployed or engaged in unrelated work, carve out time for personal projects or studying new (or familiar) technologies. It's essential to keep your skills honed, so that when an interview opportunity arises, you are ready and at your best, increasing the chances of turning that interview into a job offer.

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