Back before the dawn of time, before Al Gore invented the Internet and we buried our heads in our phones, there was no such thing as job search technology. You typed up your resume and cover letter on a typewriter (a heavy and slow machine with keys for producing alphabetical characters). You searched the Help Wanted ads for job postings in the daily newspaper (a document that you read daily leaving ink stains on your fingers). You submitted your application by snail mail (a distant precursor to Gmail). And your network was a list of family, friends, and associates in your Rolodex (a desktop card index that…never mind).
You get my point. I used to walk 2 miles to school every day, uphill through heavy snow, both ways. The times they are a-changing. We have electricity now and computers and the internet. It’s 2019, and technology has arrived to support the job search process. The question is whether this technology is a blessing or a curse for today’s job seeker.
It’s a Blessing
Technology has contributed to significant improvements in the productivity and efficiency of the job search process. Just a few examples:
Create a LinkedIn profile that effectively communicates your value proposition. Find a job posting that meets your career interests and use the Easy Apply feature to submit your application in minutes, not hours.
Follow companies that fit your job search profile and set alerts for new job postings. Find out automatically, sooner not later, that there is a potential job opening for you to consider.
Build your network strategically leveraging the power and breadth of the LinkedIn platform. A universe of potential contacts and much that you need to know about them to connect is available with a single keystroke.
Research and prepare for each interview with unfettered access to a virtual treasure trove of data on your target organization and even your interviewers. The only way you can come to an interview unprepared is lack of motivation.
The list can go on almost indefinitely. Technology and its inherent benefits are here to stay for the modern job seeker. But is everything sunshine and roses?
It’s a Curse
Call it the law of unintended consequences. The technology that is designed to help us can also harm us at the same time. If we let it. Texting and driving. Smartphone addiction and social isolation. I am not a Luddite. I leave that badge of honor to my 94-year-old mother, who flies the non-technology flag with pride. But there are some downsides to technology in today’s job search process. You need to be aware of the concerns to stay away from the rocky shores. Here are just a few of the big ones:
Spend all your job search time on the online job boards, and you quickly start to believe that they represent the universe of all available jobs. The truth is that they are more like the Milky Way galaxy than the entire universe. Like a horse with blinders on, when your job search process establishes permanent residence on the job boards, you lose a line of sight to a large percentage of open opportunities. The antidote: Keep the percentage of time in the job search process allocated to applying for jobs online commensurate with the probable return on investment. I recommend aiming for 10% (approximately 1 hour per day for a full-time job seeker).
Human nature is like water flowing downstream. If available, we tend to take the path of least resistance. It is far easier to sit behind a keyboard and submit job applications online all day than it is to build a job search plan, research your targets, contact strangers, get out in the community, build a professional network and get referrals for the jobs you want. The antidote: Allocate time in the job search plan to develop and maintain your job search network. I recommend aiming for 50-70% (approximately 3-4 hours per day for the full-time job seeker when you are in the early months of your search process).
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are the new guardians at the gate. The ATS is the technology standing between your resume and a human set of eyes. ATS technology is not your friend, filtering out 80% or more of all online applications. All before you even get to market your candidacy. The antidote(s): Use the job posting like a request for proposal. Written correctly, it reads like an instruction manual for all the keywords and skills you need to include in your branding assets. Use a tool like Jobscan to check your resume and LinkedIn profile for matching optimization against targeted job postings. Better yet, avoid the ATS entirely. Leverage your active and vibrant job search network to get your resume and candidacy in front of a real human. One who can see your complete value proposition and make things happened for you.
Blessing or curse. Risk or opportunity. It all depends on your point of view as a job seeker. Be the one that leverages the technology to your benefit. Be the one that invests your time wisely to develop your job search network and build your brand. Then you will be the one that finds your next job and continues to advance your career.
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Dan Troup is the Managing Director of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a job search expert and certified career coach can assist you, please contact AdvantEdge Careers for a free initial consultation.