The following material has been excerpted from Electronic Job Search Revolution by Joyce Lain Kennedy and Thomas J. Morrow, Copyright (c) 1994, Joyce Lain Kennedy & Thomas J. Morrow. This material has been provided in cooperation with John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and is intended for your personal use only; it may NOT be otherwise copied or distributed without specific written permission from the publisher.
This chapter identifies reasons why the job search revolution is racing across the concrete canyons and purple mountains and golden wheatfields of America. It explains why--at the beginning of this revolution--you should not prematurely toss out traditional job search methods but start now to add a new electronic edge to your job search skills.
For job seekers and rising stars alike, wonders may lie ahead. Change certainly does. In this decade that bridges the centuries, a quiet technological revolution, already begun, is reinventing the ways that people and jobs meet:
Paper is not out, but electronics are definitely in. Resourceful American job hunters who are looking for the big edge in a killer job market are finding something new in the air of America's corporate hiring halls: computer-driven job services.
Before you go into microchip shock, realize you need not have a technical aptitude to "go electronic." You need not even like computers to feel the earth move in the emerging upheaval. But the earth is moving: Computerized job services and the electronic recruitment industry are taking over where traditional paper methods leave off.
As technology sparks new ways to look for a job and new ways to find people to hire, the job search revolution has indeed begun.
What forces are spanking new life into a job search revolution at this particular moment in our history? In the ways we look for work, what are the engines driving the biggest employment matchmaking change in a century? Briefly, here's the explanation.
The great job express that rolled through the decades since World War II has run out of gas. As the late Dan Lacey, editor of the newsletter Workplace Trends, observed:
"Our country and our culture have not yet grasped what is going on... We are at the end of the post-World War II boom days. Everything that everyone considers normal about work--long-term steady employment with a full range of company-paid benefits and ever rising wages--is a way of life that came about in America after World War II. It never existed anywhere else."
In the 1980s, American employers, desperate to stay competitive, cut millions of people from their payrolls. The cuts included human resource specialists, who had been the grand gatekeepers for corporate America. The carnage produced a historically significant trend: the steady and permanent elimination of millions of jobs. Those jobs won't be coming back.
An avalanche of company cutbacks introduced a new word in our culture--the dreaded "downsizings." Huge numbers of experienced, qualified workers were thrown into a frenzied competition for jobs. Now, fearful of being overwhelmed with applicants, employers are thinking twice about advertising job openings.
Each time a job opening for a good position hits print, companies are set upon by hoards of job seekers. Because corporate chieftains have thinned the ranks of the human resource departments in the downsizings, they have sometimes left themselves woefully short of staff to respond to hundreds of applications for each job opening. Many companies simply don't have enough people to react in the old-fashioned way--sorting people by hand.
In one instance, a major employer in the Midwest received 10,000 resumes in a one-month period. The human resource staff tried valiantly to cope with skyscrapers of paper by holding "resume parties." At these "parties," a dozen or so people worked in a conference room late into many nights, eating sandwiches and sorting resumes. They saw more of the resumes than they did of their families.
"After finding, say, 172 good candidates for a position, we stopped sorting through--even though we knew the very best candidate may well have been number 173 or 178," says a survivor of the ordeal. "It was exhausting to keep reading resumes after a certain point. And the more resumes we read, the less time we had to interview. It was a Catch-22."
Moving beyond the technical problem of too many applicants and too few people to screen them, observers generally agree that, philosophically, the United States has become a bottom-line economy. These are the new rules:
In our bottom-line economy, employers are in a take-no-prisoners revolt against hiring costs that have risen like college tuitions. They are constantly on the lookout for ways to trim a budget line and nip an inflated figure.
The trauma and turmoil in the employment arena will continue. Saving on expenses has become a way of life as the nation's businesses fight off global competition, restructure to survive the end of the World War II boom years, and salt away money to buy technologically advanced equipment to stay in business.
The cost per hire for professional and managerial personnel averages $5,400, says a recent study by the Employment Management Association, an organization of employment and personnel executives in business, education, and industry. When a private recruitment firm is used, the average cost per hire rockets to $35,300.
At a time when employers are trying to send hiring costs downward, another trend is moving up on the charts: the proliferation of computers in homes, where most job search planning takes place.
After losing her job, she began networking and answering help-wanted ads. The competition was frightful. Marcheschi says employers told her she was competing with 300 resumes.
A member of the Society for Human Resource Management, Marcheschi took advantage of a benefit available to society members, a free one-year membership in Job Bank USA, a McLean, Virginia, independent resume database firm that surfaces candidates for job openings.
A few months later, Marcheschi was offered and accepted a position as the corporate recruiter for the National Easter Seal Society.
Now, as a recruiter, she understands electronic employment matchmaking from both sides of the desk.
One out of every four households has a home computer, according to Link Resources, a market research firm in New York. By mid-decade, Link expects that figure to rise to more than one out of every three.
The numbers encourage us to agree with Victor Hugo's often quoted comment: "An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come."
Computers are here. People no longer use them as expensive paperweights. People are no longer afraid of them. People who are not the technically elite are seeing computers as one of life's requirements.
Equally important, companies no longer can support the hand-sorting of people that has taken place during the entire 20th century. Manual personnel systems are under intense scrutiny. Their cost-effectiveness is daily questioned by managers for whom the bottom line is sacred.
A marriage of two trends is fueling the job search revolution: unyielding pressure on business to cut costs while dealing with armies of job seekers, and the new wave of user-friendly technology. The result is an explosion of new tools and new rules that is changing forever how you should look for work.
Presenting yourself using old guidelines we've all learned and become familiar with over the years could now hurt your chances of landing your dream job.
Although no single aspect of this ritualistic pursuit has been eliminated, everything you thought you knew about job hunting is no longer enough to keep you out of the rain in a downpour of joblessness.
Are we saying that the advice you're absorbing from job search books and from job coaches is obsolete? Not at all. Some verities really are eternal, and we advise you to heed the abiding truths shared by authors and counselors you admire. What we recommend is that you add a new layer of contemporary information to the knowledge you already have about effective ways to job hunt.
A childhood couplet makes the point vividly:
Job hunting isn't what it used to be. It's time to toss out some of the old nuggets that just won't work for you anymore.
This book and its companion guide, The Resume Revolution, introduce you to new technologies that may astound you. Most are in use already and some are nearly here.
As a popular computer command says, GO. On with the revolution!