Fewer Jobs Available; Number of Applicants Surprisingly the Same

Spectrum News

AUSTIN, Texas — With near-record unemployment due to the COVID-19 response, the hunt for a job right now is anything but easy.

Austin resident Hannah Wilson is used to working from home. She had been doing it for the last year as an account executive for a programmatic company.

“I worked with agencies and advertisers, which as you know have been kind of pulling back spending because of the COVID situation,” said Wilson.

That ad-buy pullback eventually caught up with Wilson as well. The majority of her clients had advertisements tied to sports, travel and higher education.

“I ended up canceling almost every live campaign I had,” recalled Wilson. “A few weeks later the company had an announcement and I was told I was getting laid off.”

Wilson was given a small severance, allowing her a few days to let reality set in. But then, she updated her resume and spent the last two weeks sending it out to nearly two dozen jobs–jobs she doesn’t necessarily have experience with, but skills that might be transferable to another line of work.

“I’m realizing that I’m up against people who don’t just have a bachelor’s degree, they probably have a master’s and more experience than me and are willing to take the same amount of money I was making before,” said Wilson.

Wilson is not alone. The competition is certainly stiffer with fewer jobs on the table.

“I wouldn’t say every client, but the majority of our clients have at least put their jobs on hold,” said Keith Wolf, managing director for Houston-based Murray Resources.

Wolf said the jobs his staffing agency is being asked to staff are with businesses that are considered to be essential during the pandemic.

“And it could be an accountant, it could be an engineer, it could be a sales person within that type of company,” said Wolf.

“Infrastructure, logistics, some technology companies. Definitely anything on the front lines–health care,” he said.

With the advent of internet and websites like Indeed and LinkedIn, people can mass apply for jobs with the click of a button. That’s why Wolf says on any given job, Murray Resources will typically receive about 1,000 applications.

But even though there are less jobs his company is scouting for, Wolf says surprisingly the number of applicants remains relatively the same.

“I think a lot of them are just sitting back and not applying. Number one because they just know that there’s not a whole lot to apply to,” said Wolf. “Number two, I just don’t even think they know what to do, they’re just kind of waiting this out and seeing where this goes.”

Wolf also said for a lot of employees, simply taking the unemployment funds being offered by the government right now may be more lucrative than actually working or trying to find work.

Wilson said she did land a job interview, but the company can’t make a hire since it can’t do in-person training that’s required for the job. Now, she’s contemplating a career change altogether, nervous the advertising world will be forever changed by COVID-19.