How We Find Jobs—and How Jobs Find Us—in 2018
Thanks to technology, today’s digital employment market hardly resembles the newsprint want ads of decades past
When baby boomers set out to find their first jobs, everything about the process was manual and paper-based. Finding out about an open position took a lot of energy: you had to really be looking for a new job and you had to put in the effort to get it. Whether you were circling want ads in newspapers or trade journals then trekking to the office in question to drop off your résumé, contacting your dream companies by phone or visiting them in person and just hoping they had an opening that might fit your experience, spending hours in the unemployment office or career center at your college, or just making sure your friends’ parents only saw you in a trustworthy, hardworking light . . . looking for work was a lot of, well, work.
That’s not to say actually getting a job—especially the right one—in 2018 is easy. Far from it. But finding jobs, and throwing your hat into the employment ring, is. Sometimes too easy, in fact.
“You want to get as many candidates as you can so you can find the right one,” says career coach, former recruiter, psychologist, and author Dawn Graham, from the perspective of companies posting their open positions online. “But when you put out a job ad and get 250, which is pretty standard for an online job, now the game becomes about elimination, not selection.”
So how do today’s job-seekers position themselves so that out of all the applicants, they have a chance at being the one selected rather than eliminated? How do they set themselves apart? Where do they go to find jobs that are legitimate and how, when the world is their oyster, do they determine which to go after and which to ignore?
Who is looking for jobs in 2018?
“Generation Z—those born from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s —is just now entering the workforce, and given that they are the largest generation ever, they are poised to have an effect on the future of the workplace that no previous generation has,” says Door of Clubs. “In fact, this past summer [summer of 2017] marked the first time that the majority of those graduating and entering the workforce were from Generation Z rather than being considered a Millennial.”
Still, today’s workforce is comprised primarily of millennials and baby boomers. And while neither has the truly innate technological worldview of Generation Z, each has grown comfortable with the modern job-search climate.
According to Indeed.com, one of the most historically prolific online job boards, it’s not just the internet that runs today’s job application market, but mobile internet specifically, with mobile devices accounting for most job searches in most occupations.
In 2016, an Indeed.com survey found millennials to be the most active mobile searchers (remember, this was before Generation Z hit the traditional employment market), with 78% using their mobile devices to look for jobs. But the survey found Gen Xers barely lagging, with approximately 73% searching for work on mobile devices. What’s more, the survey found, “Baby Boomers have seen the highest increase in mobile job search among the three generations, with around 57.2% of Boomers active in 2016, up from just 51.2% in 2014.”
Where are today’s job-seekers looking?
If you’ve ever looked for a job, whether it was days ago or decades ago, you’ve probably heard the adage it’s not what you know, but who you know. By all accounts, this is still true in the digital age. Applicants through corporations’ online career systems are often bumped to the top of the pile—or even granted an automatic screening interview—if they can name a current employee in the “referral” form field. And most anyone who has been unemployed for an uncomfortably long period of time has swallowed their pride and posted the predicament to social media. After all, a large enough network likely has insight into opportunities that you might not be able to glean from job boards alone. There was even an entire August 2018 MarketWatch article discussing all the ways in which people are now using dating apps like Tinder and OKCupid to find jobs.
A World of Work survey by Monsterboard found, however, that millennials were looking for jobs primarily through traditional means, albeit with a decidedly digital bent:
Printed media aside (and, believe it or not, in-person career fairs are still relevant as well), each of these options requires a knowledge of personal branding, keyword optimization, and the miniscule attention span of today’s computer-based audiences (yes, that includes hiring managers and HR specialists).
Pulling ahead in the modern job search
The 2018 Entelo Recruiting Trends Report surveyed 1,143 talent acquisition professionals and found that 62% of their companies planned to spend more money on AI-powered recruiting software and, of those, 86% planned to spend on intelligent sourcing software. That means to ping the attention of a hiring corporation and make your way past the software that filters applications based on percentage keyword match—no human eyes required—will soon become even more difficult than it is today.
If all this autonomous filtering seems dehumanizing and discouraging, consider the flipside of what digital job searching has wrought. In addition to casting a wider net for employers—thus theoretically finding the most perfect employee match for any given position—it has also helped job seekers think outside the box for their next role.
“There are a plethora of platforms designed to match you with jobs that you might never have considered otherwise,” says Fast Company. “For example, with Leap.ai, you have to do a self-assessment that focuses on sussing out your strengths (i.e., collaboration, leadership), skills (UX design, sales, marketing), and personal values, as well as job preferences (working in teams, independent, remote). TalentWorks also uses AI to optimize your resume and application and also provides human coaching (for a fee), while Talify’s college student users take personality assessments, and SquarePeg’s users take psychometric tests designed to make better matches to jobs where you’d actually perform your best.”
Once candidates do make it past the first round—to selection instead of elimination, that is—their individualism and soft skills will actually be more important to employers than they would have been in decades past.
SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie was quoted in Fast Company as naming curiosity 2018’s most important soft skill. However, only 5% of 13,000+ workers polled by SurveyMonkey and INSEAD cited curiosity as deserving a place in the “top two most rewarded employee characteristics to help your company change and adapt for the future,” with communication (36%), self-motivation (29%), commitment (28%), and professionalism (27%) edging it out. Lurie implores job-seekers to reconsider: “You know who’s really good at commitment and professionalism? Freakin’ robots.”
Eight Ways Getting a Job Has Changed in the Last Decade, according to GlassDoor.com: