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Why is getting a job today so different than it was in 1997?

Careers classifiedsRemember good old 1997? You opened the classifieds section of the newspaper and got out your red felt tip pen. I still remember doing this at that time. I had just decided to go to college part time and get a full time job. Having studied a wide range of things from psychology to business to marketing. I was 21 years old and not quite sure what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I circled an ad for an account manager position with a company that offered mail-monitoring services to basically anyone that sent out direct marketing mail. I thought to myself “Hey I could do that…I love people, I am organized, I know enough about marketing.” I still remember going on my interview and knowing I nailed it. This became an important job of my formative years and I eventually got promoted to a management position.

In 1997, I don’t remember applying to too many more jobs than that. If I applied to 5, that was a lot.

Digital tablet pc showing user interface of online job searchHello 2015! In my most recent career transition, I applied to over 250 jobs and MAYBE got 5 interviews. I don’t blame people for being scared. In the past few months, I have interacted with some of the most smart, experienced, intuitive clients with a vast array of skill sets and experience. Looking out into the digital abyss of online job hunting can be terrifying. From being a contract recruiter, I’ve also been on the receiving end of 175 applications for one job in about 6 days.

There’s a reality to what actually happens when you apply to a job and it’s not ONE reality or ONE answer.

Rather than try to figure out how it all works, you’ve got to get smart about your time. Below is a suggested breakdown of where to invest your energy. Regardless of how much time you are able to spend, don’t waste it on things that will drive you nuts. This isn’t THE truth; it’s a WAY to look at things that could help you…if you are open.


Networking Nametag Sticker Meeting People Making Connections50% of your time should be spent networking. Some people hate this. I know. I hear you. We hate to ask for things, we hate to sound desperate. SO, I’ve broken down your networking into three categories:


1. Events: Try to go to at least one networking event per month. It could be a small meetup group or a large industry conference. Get out. Talk to people.

2. LinkedIn: Even if you spend just 30 minutes a week looking through your LinkedIn contacts, you can start to find hidden opportunities. Search specific companies; see who is connected to whom. Send at least 1 or 2 messages a week to people who may be able to directly or indirectly help you. Endorse people. Built up your endorsements. For more about endorsing and how it got me on TV, read here. 

TIP: Most people are harboring a mild narcissistic drive to tell you how awesome their career is. They love to share their expertise and go on and on about themselves. Asking for some guidance, mentoring, or for them to share their experience is a secret weapon! Listen for the gold.

3. PICK UP THE PHONE. I repeat this often, but call people. Just one person a week. I don’t want to get too crazy here. Whether you have coffee or plan a Skype Chat – have a conversation. This again could be someone who is already doing what you’d like to be doing or can directly help you.

25% of your time should be spent researchingBefore you go aimlessly applying for jobs, remember jumping from one career to the next is as bad as starting to date a week after a bad breakup. Open yourself up to learning as much as you can to make a great choice for your professional future. No matter how long ago school ended, the learning really never ends.

1. Check out reliable industry blogs related to your desired industry. Beware of ones that you’ve never heard of or seen before or that…look like they are from 1997.

2. Take the O*NET skills assessment. The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) is a free online database that contains hundreds of occupational definitions to help students, job seekers, businesses and workforce development professionals to understand today’s world of work in the United States. By examining your skills, this short assessment will give you results of specific jobs or industries you might be suited for and will show you the tasks associated with those roles. Now don’t get surprised if things seem extreme (I always get CEO!), but just use it as a reference.

25%  of your time should be spent actually applying for jobs. I hate to even give this as much as 25%, but if I have to for the sake of math, I will do this.

1. Have a master version of your resume that you refer back to when you need to tweak it to certain jobs or industries. For innovative templates, check out Creative Market. 

2. Which sites are the best? This depends on what your looking for. Though it’s from 2013, from my experience both as a seeker and recruiter, check out this article from Forbes on the 10 best Websites for your career. I find this is still the most relevant and objective collection of information

3. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Do not take it personally when you don’t get responses. In 1997 15 people applied for a job, in 2015, 215 people can apply for that same job. Breathe.

At the end of the day this is a SUGGESTION. Looking for answers when there is no one actual answer will leave you in a place of suffering. You’ve got to do you. Now go get ‘em.

Don’t want to go it alone? Schedule a free 30-minute session with me. Kick it up a notch.