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Why a job search is so challenging these days

Is it a bad economy, bad luck, outsourcing, cronyism, poor work ethic, too much reality TV...WHAT!?  Steve Dalton, author of The 2-Hour Job Search, and Program Director for Daytime Career Services, Duke University The Fuqua School of Business, attributes the challenge to something else entirely - technology.

Here is an excerpt from his book which I believe to be one of the most insightful how-to publications on the entire subject of job search success in this Information Era.

Technology has made our lives easier in so many ways, but it has only complicated the modern-day job search.  Before Internet job postings grew in popularity in the late 1990s, the job search was a simple (though tedious) process:

Step 1 (optional).  Find classified ads in newspaper.

Step 2.  Mail résumé and cover letter to potential employers.

Step 3.  Wait for invitations to interview.

That doesn’t sound so bad, right?  Ship out résumés and cover letters, and whoever is interested writes you back.  Very straightforward.  Of course, those with contacts at the potential employer still fared best, not having to rely on a piece of paper to make their first impression for them.  But cold calls by phone or mail were often all it would take to get an interview.

Fast-forward a decade.  The Internet’s in full swing, websites will find relevant job postings for you, and résumés can be submitted online at any hour of the day.  Although it’s easier than ever before to find jobs, why does it now seem so much harder to actually get one?  In short, technology made applying for jobs so efficient that hiring became inefficient.

Throw in a global recession, and suddenly you’ve got a perfect storm.  However, even if the economy were to recover fully tomorrow, the job search still wouldn’t go back to how it was.

Technology has effectively ruined the “mail and wait” job search strategy because it is now far more difficult for employers to pick out the few interesting applicants from the massive new influx of casual applicants.

Applying for jobs used to require a significant amount of time.  Time to search classified ads in your local paper, type and print your résumé and cover letter on nice paper, and package them up in an envelope for mailing.  Not everyone had that kind of time, and applying to any job required at least a minimal amount of research - heading to the library to find what address to mail your résumé to, for example.

With the Internet, applying for a job can take less than a minute.  Google a possible employer’s name, click on the Careers section of their website, and submit your résumé.  Done!  When it’s that easy, anyone can do it (and everyone does).  Thus, recruiters who before Internet job postings used to get a dozen or so applications from mostly local candidates in several weeks for a job now get hundreds or thousands from across the country within hours.

Who has time to read hundreds of résumés?  Recruiters today read résumés the way most of us read websites; ignoring a majority of what’s on the page and just skimming the headlines; in the case of résumés, usually looking at only schools attended and previous employers, it that.

That’s assuming hiring managers actually look at résumés received online.  There is no way for a hiring manager to read all of those applications, the only fair thing to do is not ready any of them, so online applications may be avoided entirely.  (That this attitude saves a hiring manager many hours of additional work is hardly coincidental!)  Employers these days rely instead of internet referrals to decide whom to interview. Getting internet referrals efficiently is the core challenge of the modern job search.

One aspect of my mission is and always has been to provide the most up-to-date and relevant job search information available regardless of whether I created it or not.  Of the myriad of job search advice and success plans I review, Steve Dalton’s suggestions are some of the most effective.  I suggest strongly you purchase and devour his book, The 2-Hour Job Search, Using Technology to Get the Right Job FASTER.  You can purchase it directly from my blog at along with other relevant publications regarding an effective job search.  Just click on the link “Best Job Search Books” on the navigation bar.


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