Even as the unemployment rate in New York City drops to 8.9 percent, the New York State labor counselor — who is tasked with helping those on unemployment find work — said his job isn't getting any easier.
"More people have been out for a longer period of time and they are starting to feel that their chances are getting worse the longer they have been unemployed," Brooklyn-based counselor Doug Gallup said.
Gallup has a treasure trove of statistics and advice that he presents to unemployment beneficiaries who are required to attend periodic meetings with him at his office at the New York State Labor Department.
First, he tells attendees that applying for a job online is not likely to be a good use of their time.
"Two years ago if you guys would've come in here, I would’ve said, 'Go online. Spend a lot of time online.' About 30 to 35 percent of people found jobs there," he said at one meeting. "During this recession, that number has dropped and dropped and dropped. It's about 4 percent."
Instead, he said most people who found work in 2010 did it through personal contacts or word-of-mouth.
Gallup also described two new interview techniques that are becoming prevalent. Job seekers should be prepared for what he called the "situational interview" and the "stress interview." Gallup said many employers have given up on the conventional handshake, tell-us-why-you-want-to-work-for-us interview.
"They were too easy to fake your way through," he said. "You could be unpleasant, a sociopath, whatever, and if you looked nice, and if you had a suit on, and a nice handshake and good looking resume, you could get hired."
In the "situational interview," applicants are given oddball questions such as, "What animal would you be?" or "What is your personal definition of the meaning of life?"
In the "stress interview," people are asked rude and antagonistic questions.
"The idea is that they want you to crack under the pressure of the interview," Gallup saaid. He said that employers believe people who crack during the interview will crack on the job.
One former retail worker at the meeting who asked her name not be used said that type of interview has frustrated her.
"They make it so hard that you lose the opportunity of that job," she said.
Gallup advised everyone to be patient and thoughtful in their answers.
"They found if they made people wait more than 45 minutes, about 30 percent of people walk out before their interview," he said.
Gallup also told everyone at the meeting to clean up their Facebook accounts as employers look at them routinely.
He also fired off his list of beliefs about finding a job in today’s market.
- Job fairs are not worth the time. He said the events raise the profile of employers and do little else.
- "Recruitment events" held at city-run career centers are good options. They host events on behalf of employers who expect to hire from the pool of people who show up.
- Unemployment recipients are first in line for student aid through the Pell grants worth $5,000.
- Unemployment recipients can also take the civil service exam for free.
But even with all the advice, Gallup said he expected the job market will be tough for a while to come. In part, he said, because so many new jobs are only part-time: in 2010, the private sector gained nearly a million jobs, but more than a quarter were temporary positions.