Chris Bauerle spent months searching for a job in the IS industry. He found one in July as a technical sales and support worker at Symantec. But the new job didn't come easily. Bauerle encountered a lot of slammed doors and a lot of inflexible job requirements.
"They weren't willing to spend a little money on training to breed a little loyalty. They want to see an MIT graduate with computer programming experience, a lot of Unix and oodles and oodles of other skills," Bauerle says.
Symantec's technical-support operation was different. The company offered Bauerle a position supporting its WinFax application and provided two weeks of training.
Bauerle's case illustrates how missed connections and inflexible negotiations among employees, employers and recruiters often make a tight job market even worse for everybody.
Bauerle isn't alone in his frustration. Just ask Fred Brown, who also changed jobs recently. Brown's beef: the lack of communication on the part of many employers about his status in their search process.
Despite the frustrations, Brown found a position he's thrilled with - as a networking technical support representative at 3Com.
Nonetheless, Brown was surprised when several companies he had interviewed with later called with job offers. "I didn't think they were interested" because the companies never told him where he stood after his initial interview, Brown says.
Employees aren't the only ones frustrated with the job market and the inflexible terms at the bargaining table. Employers are tired of deal-ing with employees who see nothing but dollar signs and who job-hop.
That's been the experience of Catherine Rodewald, vice president and chief information officer at Amresco. She lost three Oracle database administrators in one year. As a result, Rodewald outsourced the entire function several months ago.
Rodewald lost experienced employees because they didn't match high salaries and perks such as signing bonuses that were waved in front of their workers. But to do so would be unfair to existing information technology staffers and would lead to morale problems, she says.
Professional recruiters are finding as much to be frustrated about as employers and employees. There are so many companies chasing so few candidates that recruiters find it difficult to be heard above the noise.
Adding to the problem are employers who have an unrealistic picture about the type of experience prospective employees are likely to have.
"They want someone with PeopleSoft experience, but there are only a finite number of people with this experience," says Peter Regenye, principal at Simmons Rohs Associates.
It's more realistic, he says, to look for someone "who works for a major organisation and has been through a major implementation and knows what to expect".
To be more successful, employers need to spend enough time with recruiters at the beginning of the process to paint a picture of exactly what type of person and skills will fill the bill, Regenye says. Employers also need to respond quickly when candidates are presented to them.