Previously, candidates who made it to the interview stage might have a one in 10 chance of getting the job, she said. Now, “with the new tools you may have the same time requirement” for a much slimmer chance.

“Employers aren’t doing a good job of being mindful of how much they are expecting from candidates,” Ms. Olivier said.

Karin Borchert the chief executive of the hiring software company Modern Hire, predicts resumes will become less important for entry-level professional jobs. Companies can evaluate qualities they are seeking, such as tenacity or problem-solving skills, through assessments and then incorporate feedback on new hires to improve those assessments, she said.

Mr. Moran cautioned applicants not to rely on the new systems alone to secure a job. He advises job seekers to make sure their LinkedIn profile is up to date and includes recommendations from managers and colleagues. Twitter or other public social media accounts should include “digital bread crumbs” of information highlighting skills, experience and interests.

Candidates should also seek out people inside their target companies that can refer them for the position, Mr. Moran said, because those referrals can significantly lift the chance of being hired.

“The more technical things get, the more you can get noticed by going old school,” he said.

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Uncounted in the Unemployment Rate, but They Want to Work

Robert Hesse was expecting an imminent promotion to manager of Sub Zero Ice Cream, a nitrogen ice cream shop in Ventura, Calif., when it shut down in March because of the pandemic.

“I like to work,” said Mr. Hesse, a college graduate who turns 26 on Tuesday. “Otherwise I feel like I’m useless.” But he has been reluctant to seek a new job because he lives with his parents, who are not yet vaccinated, and is afraid of bringing the virus home to them.

“It’s just health concerns — I don’t really want to be around the general public yet,” he said.

Mr. Hesse represents what economists say is one of the most striking features of the pandemic-driven economic downturn: the tide of workers who, as the government counts things, have left the labor force.

In the year since the pandemic upended the economy, more than four million people have quit the labor force, leaving a gaping hole in the job market that cuts across age and circumstances. An exceptionally high number have been sidelined because of child care and other family responsibilities or health concerns. Others gave up looking for work because they were discouraged by the lack of opportunities. And some older workers have called it quits earlier than they had planned.

labor force participation rate among those 16 or older has dropped to about 61 percent from 63 percent in February 2020. Among prime age workers — those 25 to 54 — it has declined to 81 percent from 83 percent.

Women in their prime working years have quit the labor force at nearly twice the rate of men, according to research by Wells Fargo, partly because more women work in industries like leisure and hospitality that are less suited to social distancing and partly because women are more likely to bear the burden of child care. The share of Black women who have left the labor force is more than twice the share of white men.

Then there are the many people who may be seeking a job but who are unavailable to take one because of health concerns, illness or caretaking obligations, putting them in what economists say is something of a gray area — between being unemployed and not in the labor force — that has become more common during the pandemic.

A single mother, Frankie Wiley, 29, worked as a housekeeper at a resort in Bloomington, Minn., until she was laid off last March. She would like a paid job, but she has to stay home with her 11-year-old daughter, who is attending school remotely.

“I take care of her, so I’m her only support,” she said. She said she plans to return to work once her daughter can go back to school safely.

labor force participation has fallen to 38 percent from 40 percent in the last year.

A study from the research firm Oxford Economics estimates that around two million workers have left the labor force to retire since the start of the pandemic, more than twice the level in 2019.

That was the case for Ed Hoag, a public librarian for 35 years, who decided on an early retirement last summer out of concerns for his health. He and his wife have no children, and he was worried that if either of them got sick, there would be no one to take care of them.

Now 60, he spends his days reading at his home in Lambertville, N.J., where he moved a few years ago in anticipation of a retirement that had once seemed much further off.

“I do miss working,” he said. “I miss my colleagues and I miss the activity of the library, the people that would come in, the jobs we did. I do miss all that interaction. But I think that for myself and my wife, it was the right decision to make.”

For the legion of older workers who hope to return to work after the pandemic, a challenging path may lie ahead. Studies show that older people who leave the work force will have a more difficult time re-entering it because of age discrimination and other reasons. If that reality holds during the recovery, the number of older workers who have left the labor force — either because they could not find a job or because they retired early — could be one of the pandemic’s enduring consequences.

One prevailing question is whether employers, as in the past, will look askance at those who have been out of the labor force for a significant time.

Even in a tight labor market, long-term unemployed workers faced a stigma, said Maria Heidkamp, the director of the New Start Career Network, which helps older job seekers in New Jersey.

“In addition to any age, race or gender discrimination that they may already encounter, there’s a lot of evidence that it is easier to get a job if you already have a job,” she said. Though employers may overlook any pandemic résumé gap, she said, “there’s no reason to think that that is going to be different for these people, who are on the sidelines right now who want to come back.”

Still, because of the pandemic’s unique economic impact, many economists believe that the extraordinary number of people who have left the labor force will be more of a temporary blip than emblematic of a deeper structural issue.

“I don’t think overall the U.S. labor force participation rate is going to get stuck at a lower rate,” said Betsey Stevenson, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, who was a member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Already there is evidence that people who left the labor force are returning to work.

Labor participation among young people, which tumbled in the early stages of the pandemic, has rebounded significantly as service industries bounce back.

And as the vaccination rate continues to rise and restrictions on activity lift across the country, many more people who have left the work force are beginning to plot their returns.

Since Heather Kilpatrick lost her job in private-event sales last March, she has spent her days at home in East Boston caring for her daughter, now 3.

Without her additional income, she and her husband, co-owner of a restaurant, could no longer afford day care at the local Y.M.C.A. So although Ms. Kilpatrick, 36, ached to go back to work, she felt as if she were trying to solve a chicken-or-egg dilemma.

“No disrespect to women who want to stay home, but that’s never been me,” she said.

Recently, she finally accepted a part-time job working from home for a restaurant group.

Her job began last week.

Ben Casselman and Jeanna Smialek contributed reporting.

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Detroit Museum Tries to Change After Review Cites a Culture of Fear

The Detroit Institute of Arts is taking steps to improve its workplace culture following a critical review by outside investigators who said they had fielded employee complaints of retaliation by the director whose autocratic leadership style, they said, had fostered an environment that led a disproportionate number of women on staff to leave.

The findings of the review by the law firm Crowell and Moring, which was hired by the museum, were presented to members of its board in November but were not made public.

The investigators, from the Washington, D.C., office of the law firm, also said that current and former staff members they had spoken to complained that the director, Salvador Salort-Pons, demonstrated a “lack of facility with race-related issues,” according to an audio recording of the board meeting at which the investigators presented their findings.

The museum said Monday that it had taken a number of steps in response to the findings, including establishing a new board position to be a liaison between staff members and the board of directors. It has also set up a confidential hotline for reporting discrimination, retaliation or other workplace issues.

Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit law firm in Washington that represents some museum staff members, and was reviewed by The New York Times.

infusion of nearly a billion dollars from foundations, private donors and the State of Michigan. The investigators said employees they spoke to said they respected his efforts in this regard.

He has retained the support of the board, and last year the institute persuaded three surrounding counties to agree to continue a property tax surcharge that helps support the museum.

But morale was so low in 2017 that nearly half of museum staff said in a survey that they did not believe the institute provided a work culture where they could thrive, citing disrespect and a sense that their opinions were ignored. The review by Crowell and Moring found those problems had not been addressed in a meaningful way.

Last year, just as issues of culture and diversity roiled museums across the country, current and former employees came forward publicly with complaints, particularly about the institute’s treatment of its Black employees.

In September, the institute hired a Chicago-based diversity and inclusion consultancy. The consultancy, Kaleidoscope, has carried out a survey of employees and is organizing staff focus groups on issues such as equity and diversity. “The Board is fully committed to addressing these concerns and shared that commitment with our staff in December,” Christine Kloostra, a spokeswoman, said of the review’s findings. “At all levels of our organization, we’re working hard together to make the D.I.A. a better place for all of our team members.”

Reviewing employment data, the investigators found that a greater number of women in managerial and professional positions than men had left the museum in recent years. In 2018, for example, it found that 27 percent of women employed by the museum in managerial and professional positions had departed that year, compared to 2 percent of men. In some cases, Ellen Moran Dwyer, one of the investigating lawyers told the board, women said they had left even though they had no other job “because they were unhappy with the environment.”

Whistleblower Aid said the outside review’s findings showed there is a need for more substantial change to address serious problems their own clients brought forward several months ago.

“It’s got to the point where people are so desperate for accountability and change that they are taking this kind of step” to leak the recording of the board meeting, said John N. Tye, the founder and chief executive of Whistleblower Aid.

Some staff said they would wait to see whether the steps the institute is taking would make a difference in addressing the challenges.

“There is a glimmer of hope that something is being done,” said Margaret Thomas, house manager of the Detroit Film Theater, which is part of the institute. “This whole situation should not be swept under the rug.”

She added, “I want to believe that something is going to be done about this.”

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February 2021 Jobs Report: U.S. Economy Added 379,000 Jobs

She mentioned her frustration to someone she met at work. “He called his friend, who called his stepdaughter, who called her boyfriend, who called his son, who works for the unemployment office,” she said, and he was finally able to clear up the mistake.

Ultimately, Ms. Pontia hopes to get her old position back. But “to get a job even close to what I was able to have before seems absolutely impossible until things are safer,” she said.

Fifteen hundred miles to the southwest, in San Antonio, Jordan Alaniz was hired as a bartender at a French restaurant and bar on Feb. 20. Ms. Alaniz, a 28-year-old mother of two infants, received her first Covid-19 vaccine this week. But even with the shot, she is worried about working at a bar in a state without a mask mandate after Gov. Greg Abbott rolled back the requirement.

“I’m definitely nervous about it,” said Ms. Alaniz, who previously worked at a different restaurant. “The last time they lifted our mask mandate, we actually had a Covid outbreak at the place I was working because they weren’t requiring masks there. That kind of traumatized me, and that’s why I was so adamant about getting the vaccine.”

Still, Ms. Alaniz feels lucky to have a job. She appreciates that her new workplace takes virus protocols seriously, requiring staff to wear gloves and clean the establishment regularly. The restaurant will continue to ask customers to wear masks, despite the governor’s lifting of restrictions.

The varying attitudes about risk of infection underscore why the shape of the post-pandemic economy remains uncertain even as more and more of the population is vaccinated.

Will people rush back out to restaurants, theaters, sports events and shopping malls or shift their behavior? Will workplaces crank back up to full capacity or shift to more remote work? Will business travel and conferences return to previous levels?

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