Why is it so hard to find a job?

//Why is it so hard to find a job?

Here’s a timely guest blog on some of the real challenges faced by many job seekers.
– Coach Wolfgang

Why is it so hard to find a job?Are you struggling to find a job? Have you been looking for awhile? Do you find it ironic that many employers report challenges filling positions because they perceive a talent shortage? So what’s going on? Why is it so hard to find a job when employers still need new employees?

When it seems hard to find a job, there are typically three factors at play:

  • Your job search and application practices are ineffective.
  • Your skills aren’t relevant in the industry/geography you are applying in.
  • It is challenging to get the attention of hiring managers with so many other applicants.

Your job search skills

Looking for a job is a complicated process. Many factors need to be in place for the right candidate to find the right job. The process doesn’t seem hard when you only need to submit a resume through a website but, as you know, submitting resumes online doesn’t produce many callbacks.

The real issue is that job searching skills are not taught in schools. There are career placement centers and they may run workshops to help with things like resume writing and interviewing but there’s a lot about the job hunting process that isn’t covered.

So don’t get frustrated, get educated! There are so many affordable books and even more free career blogs and career resources out there for job seekers. In Austin, there’s a group called Launch Pad Job Club that offers a tremendous amount of value.

Relevant skills

You can’t fit a square peg through a round hole. In the same way, you can’t find the job in just any industry or any geography. You need to know where your skills are in-demand, even IF they are in demand! Websites like monster.com and U.S. News produce lists of the most in-demand jobs. Other sources will tell you what kind of jobs are in demand for different parts of the country and world. Don’t ignore this data. Instead, adapt to it.

To find a job at a particular employer or within a certain industry you may have to position your skills in a different light. This is the process of looking at what skills are required for the job you want and then re-positioning how your existing skills are related. You also need to modify your professional branding to use the correct terms and present a consistent story.

The other reality is that you may have to re-locate or you may have to get the training you need to qualify for the position you want. It’s never a bad idea to continue building new skills but it’s important to verify that those skills will get you the job you want.

Getting noticed

You probably find it pretty easy to modify your resume and submit it for a job opening. Well, guess what? It’s that easy for everyone else too! It’s so hard to stand out, sometimes to even get your resume glanced at. This is why I advise clients to always be networking. Why? Let’s look at things from the hiring manager’s point of view.

As a hiring manager, you 1) don’t have a lot of time and 2) are concerned about hiring the wrong person. The best thing you can wish for is that a trusted friend or associate recommends someone within their network. That’s why hiring managers and company recruiters work so hard to spread the word about their job opening to their network. A referral helps eliminate the work of plowing through resumes and alleviates the concern of hiring someone they know very little about.

Networking is the key here. You find out about jobs through your network and you are referred to a hiring manager through your network. Combine your networking efforts with a complete job search strategy and a properly positioned skill set, and finding a job should be much easier. It doesn’t have to be hard to find a job but it TAKES hard work to get one.

By |2017-04-21T18:10:02+00:00March 8th, 2016|Career Change|40 Comments

About the Author:

Amy Wolfgang is a career coach and owner of Wolfgang Career Coaching. She brings over 15 years of corporate and coaching experience to help her clients excel in their careers. She is a certified PCM (Professional Career Manager) and has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin. Amy is dedicated to helping her clients become empowered and confident in their career.


  1. Jessica August 24, 2018 at 4:20 am - Reply

    I just left the military. I have a geology degree from before my service. I used the military to get some life experience, and to have work. The job listings were very slim when I graduated in 2011. Now, I can’t even find entry level work in either geology OR logistics (what I did in the service). No one will call for an interview, and ive sent my resume to at least 100 places. I had my resume revamped to be modern and everything. No one will call. Do employers have a thing against vets? Do they think we all suffer from PTSD and are unhireable? Even the military headhunter companies can’t give me an answer. What’s wrong with me?

    • Coach Wolfgang August 27, 2018 at 3:21 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your service to our country. I also appreciate you sharing your situation with us. You bring up a very complex issue. Could there be some unconscious bias in hiring? Of course. Many different individuals face this in their job search. It’s terrible and is something you cannot control. So, what is in your control? First, I would start with your resume. You say you have updated it to a modern version. Are you tailoring it to each job with the appropriate key words? This recent article is one I have found to be spot on with resumes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2018/08/21/13-ways-to-beat-the-evil-robots-at-their-own-game-and-get-your-resume-seen-by-humans/ The other resume question I want you to ponder: how am I connecting my education and experience directly to this job opportunity?
      Also, what does your job search entail? Are you networking your way to hiring managers or at least networking your way so that an internal employee is submitting your resume? Employers are afraid of hiring the wrong candidate. If a current employee recommends a candidate, one level of risk can be reduced. I would recommend spending some time exploring how you have utilized your network.
      Finally, I would explore the companies that are currently focused on hiring vets. Many companies have this criteria as part of their 2018 hiring plans. These companies may have an easier path for you as you enter the workforce.
      I hope these ideas help!

  2. Dennis Pierce April 9, 2018 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    I have been job searching for full time employment for two and a half years since my forced retirement. I have kept myself busy substitute teaching for several local high schools. I work almost every day. It is much better to be busy every day than not. I do this because I really need the stimulation that comes from working every day. I’m a very active senior. I coach a teen baseball team, swim a mlle five times a week and I am an avid reader. I hold three academic degrees. I had hoped to keep working full time until at least age 70. Throwing in the towel at age 65 was not part of my plan. I would like to know who to contact in your organization who works with older job seekers. I have way to much gas left in my tank to spend my days doing bingo at the local senior center. To do that would be mega boring for me.

    • Coach Wolfgang May 15, 2018 at 2:49 am - Reply

      I can appreciate this! I have worked with some individuals in their late 60s/early 70s who have found fulfillment in working well past 65. Several of our coaches work with older job seekers, however, we look for other factors in determining a match as well (personality, industry, etc.). I would suggest calling our Client Relations Manager, Cheryl, who does this very well. She can be reached at 512-850-4425 or feel free to fill out a form on any page on our website. Look forward to hearing from you!

  3. The Golden Rules For Landing A Job In Today's Tough Job Maret February 5, 2018 at 10:13 am - Reply

    Why is it so hard to find a job? There is no such thing as a doubt about it – it is a powerful job market that exists as we speak for job seekers. That is very true in case you are searching for a job in massive companies as most of them are scaling again fairly a bit relating to the job market.

  4. The 5 Golden Rules For Landing A Job In Today's Tough Job Market January 3, 2018 at 5:41 am - Reply

    Why is it so hard to find a job? There is no doubt about it – this is a tough job market that exists today for job seekers. This is especially true if you are looking for a job in large corporations as most of them are scaling back quite a bit when it comes to the job market.

  5. Vicky December 28, 2017 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Hello! I am looking for a job for five whole years now and I am feeling super desperate. I have studied psychology then did my MA in counselling and ever since I do nothing. I am trying to keep myself busy with other activities but there is always something missing inside me. I cannot even go out and have fun with my fiends because I feel that I don’t have a reason to go out since I don’t have to get up early in the morning, or have something to do. I am 29 years old and I feel that I have lost 5 years of my life. The most creative ones. Thing is, I even stared feeling insecure and afraid of going out there and work. I feel I have forgotten everything I have learned so far. Also, my major problem is that I have no experience and I believe that this is why people reject me. That’s what I always hear even though everyone says they like my resume. But how will I ever acquire it if nobody gives me a chance? I don’t know what to do.

    • Amy Wolfgang December 30, 2017 at 2:49 pm - Reply

      Hi Vicky, thank you for writing! This is one of the biggest frustrations of the job search… how can I get the experience that employers require if no one will give the me the chance to gain that experience? A couple of ideas for you: is there a way for you to gain direct experience through a volunteer organization or professional organization? There can be multiple career paths that use the skills you have gained. Some may be more direct to your experience than others. You may want to widen the search of jobs that will meet some of your requirements to begin gaining some experience. Here are some research sites to start your research on those broader careers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/, https://www.onetonline.org/, https://www.myskillsmyfuture.org/

      Good luck!

  6. S Quinn November 20, 2017 at 7:22 am - Reply

    Applying on line is a joke. My resume must be going into a big black resume hole with others. I have a college education, a recent college education, just gradutated 2 months ago trying to improve my job prospects. I also have 20 years retail and management and sales experience, but no job offers. I have sent out hundreds of copies of my resumes. I cannot walk into places to give my resume in person bc they say I have to apply online, but than no one contacts me when I do apply online. So frustrating. The job market is not better, it has not improved an iota from several years ago. Feel desprate and discouraged. And a total waste of life. Why do recruiters even post jobs if they do not call or connect. I do not know what I am doing wrong.

    • Amy Wolfgang November 20, 2017 at 3:51 pm - Reply

      I totally understand your frustration! You are not alone. Many of my clients experience these feelings of discouragement especially when they don’t hear anything back. Lack of feedback can be even worse than hearing a ‘no’ from someone.

      Based on your specific situation, here are a few suggestions:

      • You recently graduated with a degree. What career services help does your university offer alumni? This might be a good place to start.
      • Who have you been networking with (i.e. building relationships with)? You may be able to reach out to individuals in the industry you are applying to and learn more about their company’s hiring process and/or get feedback on your resume.

      If you don’t have an extensive network – try going to the alumni section of LinkedIn. There it will list all of the alumni (who are on LinkedIn) from your university. It filters on location, industry, etc. Even if the alumni are not in your area, they can be a wealth of information on industry hiring practices, etc. Many alumni want to help others. Reach out and see if you can make a connection and have a 15-20 minute phone call on advice for someone in your situation. You don’t use this networking arena to ask for a job. Instead you are utilizing it to ask for help in your job search.

      Best of luck to you!

  7. Nunya November 18, 2017 at 10:55 am - Reply

    I do not understand why this task of finding a job has to be so difficult. This is not something complex like surgery. Or Solving the worlds crisis’s. There is absolutely no good excuse to have job seeking so impossible. Not when it is required to maintain lifestyles and a roof over ones head. Simpler worked I see no reason why it cannot be simple again!

    • Amy Wolfgang November 20, 2017 at 3:53 pm - Reply

      You are correct. Instead of getting simpler, it seems job search has become more complex. The goal has always been to help the candidate find the best job for them and for the organization to find the best candidate for the position. When this happens, it is a win-win-win for everyone involved. Technology has allowed candidates to find so many more opportunities and organizations to find so many more candidates, however, things have become more complicated in the process. I wish I had the answer to simplify the process! In the meantime, I work with my clients to simplify their job search process so it stays manageable and not overwhelming. We focus on what is in the job seeker’s control (resume, networking, interview answers, LinkedIn, etc.). This allows the client to stay focused on the areas that they can personally have the biggest impact.

  8. MA October 24, 2017 at 5:49 am - Reply

    I have bachelor degree and Master degree , Based in Chicago, I have been looking for a job for about 1 year and could not find any decent job. maybe my strategies are wrong as for networking I am not from the USA and I just came to the US a year ago so I dont know much people who could really help me.
    I feel that applying online is just a waste of time please any help or advice ???

    • Amy Wolfgang October 25, 2017 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      Good question. Your efforts in finding a position may be complicated by either with your work status; working on a permit or Visa. Don’t underestimate those challenges. In terms of networking, look to those groups you feel most closely associated with. It might be individuals who were in school with you or a professional organization of those in your same career field or a personal interest. I would start my networking efforts there, with those who you feel most closely connected to. I would also go back to your Master’s program and see what career services are offered to alumni. They might be able to help you as well!

  9. Donna Michelle Provost September 27, 2017 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    I currently work at a fast food restaurant with at least two months of experience under my belt so far at the age of twenty three. The other day, I found my myself crying driving home from work just for the fact I felt trapped in a job that is nearly always short staffed and has a higher chance of having customers who would chew you out for not having a twin to fill in other positions. The other emotions I experience is anger and frustration at the thought of being trapped in that cycle. However, I cannot quit because of how feel about what this job requires me to do but I cannot help feeling like I cannot break or kick something in case someone at my house yells at me.

    There is nothing left of me to share other than the truth with anyone I meet it seems, including my employers! So what is the point of trying to make yourself look good in the eyes of someone who could hire you?

    • Amy Wolfgang September 27, 2017 at 5:45 pm - Reply

      You are very brave to share your story. The one thing that connects us is that we are all humans. We all experience strong feelings of happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, exhilaration, surprise, etc. It sounds like you are experiencing extreme burnout from this job. It has taken so much more than it has given. Your energy is not being replenished elsewhere, so you are existing on fumes?

      When we are in this place, it is hard to imagine we have the energy to make any different decisions. Many of us have been there. So let’s start small. Make a list. What in your job/life is out of your control? List them out. What in your job/life is in your control? List them out. Let’s start there. We oftentimes cannot control many aspects of our lives or our careers, but there are things within ourselves that we can develop, work on, change. We have control of ourselves and change can start from there. As you are able to make little changes internally, you may be surprised at the changes that happen in your external world.

      One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Viktor Frankl, who said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

  10. MK July 15, 2017 at 12:38 am - Reply

    I am from the UK and am so glad I found this website. The advice is brilliant, well written and non judgemental. You are doing a wonderful job and are clearly good at what you do. I am relieved to know that I am not the only one in this situation. I got excellent grades at school, did extra curricular work, got a very good degree from a prestigious university and despite all this it is still difficult to land a decent job. I see people who flunked at school doing better than me. But you know, that’s their life good luck to them. I must focus on myself and how I can make a difference.

    • Amy Wolfgang July 17, 2017 at 4:08 pm - Reply

      I am glad this blog was able to help you! Oftentimes we go through our checklist to make sure we do “all the right things” and it still isn’t enough. I would encourage you to look at all the things that are in your control in the job search. Of all of those things in your control, find the one area you want to tackle first – whether it is your branding message, your networking, etc. Once you have made changes there, move on to the next one and continue. I wish you the best of luck!

  11. jimbo June 24, 2017 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    “As a hiring manager, you 1) don’t have a lot of time and 2) are concerned about hiring the wrong person. The best thing you can wish for is that a trusted friend or associate recommends someone within their network. That’s why hiring managers and company recruiters work so hard to spread the word about their job opening to their network. A referral helps eliminate the work of plowing through resumes and alleviates the concern of hiring someone they know very little about.”

    Enough said.

  12. Richard Zuo June 11, 2017 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    I have not worked for 2 years in my early 50’s, so hard to find a job in the energy industry. I have an engineering background and mostly worked as a technical writer. Some but not many headhunters called me and then no more follow-ups. Frustrated. Very frustrated.

    • Amy Wolfgang June 13, 2017 at 3:35 pm - Reply

      Richard, I hear and completely understand the frustration! You have likely worked for 30 years, provided tremendous value to organizations and now . . . radio silence.

      • What types of roles are the headhunters finding you for?
      • Are they a solid fit with your experience?
      • If there are any gaps with the positions, what are they (hard skills, soft skills, industry fit, pay requirements)?
      • Aside from headhunters, what is in your current job search plan?
      • How are you utilizing conversations with people in your network?

      The job search (especially a long or frustrating one) is pulling out our energy and we have to make sure we are doing something for ourselves that puts some energy back in. What is one thing you can do each day that energizes you? It’s important to make that a priority to do each day especially when we are in a difficult job search.

  13. Dennis Pierce May 27, 2017 at 10:43 pm - Reply

    For a moment, let’s put Mr. Trump’s political views aside. No matter what your politics may be, you have to give the man credit for blowing up the myth that older workers lack energy and drive. This man goes round the clock pedal to the medal. The guy is seventy! Twenty and thirty somethings take note! There really are people over sixty who have energy and drive and who love the stimulation that full time work provides.

  14. Mipsry May 14, 2017 at 12:58 am - Reply

    I’m thirty five years old; i haven’t been able to work seen i lost my job in 2007. its very frustrating to not being able to work because i have applied several places and have lost confidence in myself about the job skills i have and job experiences as well; sometimes i give up on job searching because i don’t believe the skills i know are good enough for the jobs that involve a college degree or something to do with college. ugh; so tried of trying.

    • Amy Wolfgang May 15, 2017 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      Thank you for writing about your situation and being so open. Job searching is hard. Period. It has an emotional toll on individuals that we don’t always speak about. You are clearly aware of this toll! Addressing your concern about skills, one of the most important tactical components of a job search is to make sure the hiring managers and recruiters are aware of how your specific skills fit with the job they are hiring for. Job seekers have to make the clear connection from the skills they possess to the skills that are required. This might be a place for you to start and evaluate your most recent submission. I hope this gives you a starting point! Know that a lot of people are in your corner routing for you in this process!

  15. Josh Edmonds April 14, 2017 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    Hi, i just thought i would leave a comment on this. I’ve been trying so hard for the longest time to find work, but to no avail i just seem to have no luck at all in ever landing one. It’s normally just been under the table work or volunteer work and that’s all. I’ve been wanting to find a job for the longest time and would like to have that feeling of actually getting out there and having a steady job without the stress in finding one, so i can actually make something of myself. Pretty much all i do, is not really anything with my time. Is there something i’m doing wrong?

    • Amy Wolfgang April 17, 2017 at 3:57 pm - Reply

      Hi Josh,
      thank you for posing your question! Finding a job, especially under stressful conditions can be very difficult. A couple of questions I have for you:

      • what types of jobs are you seeking?
      • Based on the answer to that, how does your resume match up with the expectations for those jobs? (The resume is typically the first thing they see and if they cannot immediately find a connection, they may be disregarding you up front.)
      • Who would you consider to be in your network?
      • How are you utilizing these resources in your job search?

      There could be lots of little things you can tweak to find a job or simply changing 1-2 big things could result in more opportunities too. Hopefully my questions will help you narrow down where you can start making some changes to your approach!

  16. Dave March 16, 2017 at 4:35 am - Reply

    I’m career hunting. I’ve worked so many bill paying jobs my résumé doesn’t narrow anything down for anyone. I don’t know what I want to do either. Even with a degree from almost 20 years ago I can figure out what I don’t want to do easy. It’s like something is blocking that part of my mind. Been like that forever. I’m jobless after a breakup and move so things are tougher. Still I’d like to not get to the point where I take a whatever job I just take to liking because I want to work and not be out job hunting.

    • Amy Wolfgang March 17, 2017 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      Thank you for the comment, Dave! I can understand the frustration of feeling like your mind is blocking you from truly knowing what you want to do. Many people think they will experience a ‘lightening hit’ where it suddenly clear what they want to do. Instead, I find it is more like small ‘aha moments’ that build upon one another that eventually leads to clarity. This, of course, is only possible if the mind is ready to accept those aha moments. It may be helpful for you to start with an exercise of thinking over all of the jobs you held – what aspects of those jobs were enjoyable and gave you energy? Or if you can’t easily identify those, what jobs or aspects of those jobs do you not want to do again? Sometimes knowing what we don’t want to do can help narrow down what we do want to do. I hope this helps!

  17. Ron March 15, 2017 at 9:29 pm - Reply


    I’m 60 so it’s worse up there M. Allot of jobs I’m qualified for, but I don’t seem to get them. Who wants to hire a 60 year old when they can hire a 30 year old. But the reality is, that 30 year old will get bored in 5 years and move on. I on the other hand will remain loyal because I know that this is my last employer. I wish employers would wake up and smell the coffee. It seems a bit straightforward. Who are these interviewers anyway?

    • Amy Wolfgang March 17, 2017 at 2:38 pm - Reply

      Hi Ron,
      Job searching has been a very frustrating process for many of my clients over 55 for the reasons you mentioned. Employees 55+ bring a lot of experience and perspectives that can help organizations. My colleague, Marc Miller, specializes in working with individuals 55+ and has wonderful resources on his site: https://careerpivot.com/blog/ I hope some of his articles spark some new hope or new avenues for you to try!

  18. Nic Renay March 8, 2017 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    I couldn’t agree more. Networking is key. I couldn’t help but notice that everyone that was hired at my last company was a friend of a friend, son or daughter of a friend, and even a relative of the big boss.You really have to get out and expand your network. Send emails to friends or former colleagues. It’s really not even about what you know as much as who you! I’ve seen people with little to no experience walk into positions that would normally be posted requesting at least 10+ years experience. Don’t be afraid to reach out and let people know you are looking!

    • Amy Wolfgang March 8, 2017 at 7:26 pm - Reply

      Awesome advice, Nic! You and I think a lot alike. 🙂 Love the data point from your last company – I don’t doubt it!

  19. Dennis Pierce November 26, 2016 at 4:15 am - Reply

    I read an article many years ago about how the average high school graduate, prior to the early nineteen seventies, had a vocabulary of about fifty to sixty thousand words. Today, an average high school grad has a vocabulary of about ten to twelve thousand words. This is probably due to the decline in reading. Generally, methinks that the average senior knows more and reads more about the world than the average twenty or thirty something. Sadly, a lot of these folks have a lot to say about hiring in corporate America today and they can be quite hostile towards older workers. This is quite insulting.

  20. Jim Smith November 17, 2016 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    Ageism. It’s rampant – especially in the tech sector. I’m in my late 40s, and I have been turned down for over fifty jobs now – many get me to the “background check” phase – then I hear nothing. This has happened over ten times now to me over the last two years. How do you get around ageist Millennials?

    • M November 17, 2016 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      I’ve been searching for a while now myself in the tech sector. I’ve just turned 40, although not exactly in the grey army yet, but I’m definitely noticing a preference for younger workers. Which sucks because my career has never really lifted off the ground having never left the helpdesk after retraining in my late twenties. I now have a family and a mortgage and it’s not easy on that kind of wage. I see younger workers fly past me all the time into jobs that are paying a lot more than mine and I think, they don’t have families to support and they most likely spend it on booze and expensive clothes, expensive restaurants, 100% themselves really. The whole experience is making us very tight with money, we’re watching every cent. I have watched people on much higher wages struggle with money themselves because they don’t get how to budget, while we aren’t behind in any bill, in fact we are in front.. so every cloud does have a silver lining I guess! I’ve gone back to studying hoping that will help, but most likely not. The answer I’ve been thinking lately is to go into business so I’m entering into a small non-corporate type startup that is already making some money, but I’m on equal footing this time with the startup owner and not I’m not just a lacky getting abused over the phone simply because it’s necessary for “great customer service”. Corporate life can go drown itself in a disorganised, self righteous bucket of its own BS. It’s trying to push us into the poor house.

      • Amy Wolfgang November 24, 2016 at 6:44 am - Reply

        Thank you for sharing your story, M! I completely understand your frustration, especially in the technology sector. I truly appreciate your approach of looking at what opportunities are available to you. You got creative and found something that feels more in alignment with your values, how you want to work and who you want to work for. You sought out what was in your control – thinking about what other opportunities are available to you outside of traditional corporate structures. I truly hope this new opportunity better meets your financial needs as well as your fulfillment needs. Thank you for giving our readers a new perspective!

    • Amy Wolfgang November 17, 2016 at 9:21 pm - Reply

      This is definitely a topic that requires an in-depth response. Some of my favorite information related to this topic, that I share with my clients, are in the links below. They provide information and action items that will hopefully prove helpful to you! Each situation is unique and each person is unique, so see which action items resonate with you:

  21. Dennis Pierce November 14, 2016 at 1:11 am - Reply

    Does anyone have any idea what to do?

    • Amy Wolfgang November 14, 2016 at 4:45 pm - Reply

      Hi Dennis,
      Thank you for emailing! That sounds extremely frustrating. Many things can impact the job search: perceived fit by the employer, experience, age of applicant, skills, how we present ourselves, etc. When working with clients, I like to look at the factors within our control. Given that, I have a few questions for you: what types of full-time jobs are your seeking? What is your approach to your job search process? How are you utilizing your network in your job search process? What, if any, feedback are you getting from potential employers? The answers to these questions can provide some insight on your process to see if there is anything you can tweak that will help you move forward with employers.

  22. Dennis Pierce November 14, 2016 at 1:08 am - Reply

    I am a very active senior who swims a mile five times a week and coaches a teenage travel baseball team. I have three academic degrees and I work part time as a teaching assistant for special education students at a local high school. My business career included work in sales, marketing and management. However, I can’t seem to get to first base finding full time work. I’m astonished that I can’t get an interview for a full time job.

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