A relative was downsized from a corporate management position a few years ago. He went from a high paying job with great responsibility to $350 weekly unemployment for 52 weeks. The most difficult part of the process was watching him do all the things required to qualify for unemployment benefits, and at the same time doing what is really needed to land a professional management job in Cleveland, Ohio.
Let’s start with unemployment. The rules for Ohio are you need to apply for at least 2 jobs a week and keep extensive verification records to qualify for the benefit. This is great if you are looking for work in retail or a factory. Just walk in and fill out an application. You can meet the minimum requirement in a few hours each week. On Sunday you report the applications online. All it takes to meet the demands of Job and Family Services are a phone book, transportation, and a pen.
It’s a bit different for the person trying to find a professional level job. The Cleveland market is slim for upper level high paying jobs. It is a full time job to discover an opening. You also need to find networking groups, and attend weekly meetings and events. Don’t forget the job seeking classes in basic resume writing the government requires you to attend that wastes valuable job search time.
Job applications are always online with outdated interfaces. Once your application is submitted the real work begins. You need to get your resume in front of a decision maker. This often involves more than 8 hours a day, every day, just for a single job application.
The true injustice is that Job and Family Services only values job applications, not the real efforts to get the application seen. They can’t be measure that in their aged system. The government gives no credit for the work of finding the job. All that matters to them is the number of applications. That statistic plays well in the media.
Once you get an interview, the work really starts. Landing in the Cleveland job market requires interviews without end, but I get ahead of myself. This person was a hiring manager in his former life. He is familiar with the behavioral interview process. That means researching the company, the interviewer, and then preparing for the questions. Each interview requires days of preparation. Don’t forget, in spite of all this effort, you still need your two applications each week to keep the government happy and the benefits you earned and paid for coming in.
I have never applied for a job that required more than a single interview. To find a manager level job in Cleveland you just about need to interview anyone who knows the name of the company. For one he had 11 interviews, and the company never contacted him with a final decision.
A retired friend in Cincinnati decided he might reenter the work force. He identified a position, applied, and was selected for interview. After the 5th interview he withdrew his application. He told them that any company that requires more than 5 interviews to fill a simple manager job has more problems than he can help fix.
The worst of the process happens when you find that job you are well qualified for. You spend hours submitting the online application and tailoring your resume. Then you are told told the position is being filled internally even though the job description specifically called for an outside candidate. Another painful yet common occurrence is when you have an interview and you are told you are moving forward to the next level in the process. You never hear from the company again. Your emails are not returned. It hurts, and you don’t know why it is happening to you. The networking groups teach it is not you. It is happening to everyone. Welcome to the Cleveland job market.
PS: The person I write about did land. Regardless of what you might hear, the job market in Cleveland is poor. Businesses are still closing. The weekly networking groups are filled with highly qualified executives for whom Cleveland has little work.
PPS: Recent college grads know to avoid Cleveland. They may be hired. Eventually the company closes or the job ends. Unlike other cities you can’t walk out and land another job. There aren’t any. To do that they have to leave Cleveland, so why come in the first place? My neighbor’s son graduated from a major Ohio University. He and his young family relocated to Pittsburgh. Say what you want, but they have positioned themselves as a center for international business. Google opened a tech hub minutes from the Pitt and Carnegie Mellon campuses, and is fast becoming a major employer in the region. Cleveland struggles on.