5 Ways Technology Has Changed the Job Search (and how to use that to your advantage)

For better or worse, technology has completely changed the recruiting and hiring process. Never has it been easier to find jobs, connect with employers, vet companies, or interview for specific roles, and yet, the job search process still feels as cumbersome as ever.

Let’s face it, even with technology, searching for a job can be hard, and the majority of people just don’t search for jobs all that often. In fact, many of us hate job searching so much we would rather stay in a job we hate just to avoid the process of finding another one.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Technology provides many tools to make the job search bearable and so much more efficient. With that in mind, I want to provide you with five ways technology has forever changed the job search and how you can use these to your advantage on your next hunt.

1. Social Media

Perhaps nothing has changed the job search process more than the advent of social media, and nothing else provides more firepower to a candidate’s job search than social media.

It’s long been known that the most efficient path to a new job is through your network of relationships, and with social media, you have nearly instant access to your immediate network. Even more, you have real-time access to a world of connections you may have never know prior to the explosion of these platforms.

By building and leveraging the robust communities on these platforms, you can tap into a vault of knowledge on potential opportunities (posted or not) and incredibly accelerate your next job search.

How to use it?  

This deserves an article all to itself, so let me just share a foundational concept you can build your entire social media presence around.

In order to get the most from it, you really have to build a community before you ever need it. This seems obvious, but we are all guilty of not engaging with our community until we need something from them. You hate when it happens to you, so don’t do it to others.

Be a member of the community. Engage in online discussion, answer questions, congratulate folks for new jobs, give your opinion on industry trends, be a thought leader, be a troll (just kidding, don’t do this). Just be present in the community. If you do that, people will jump at the chance to help you when the time comes.

2. Applicant Tracking System or ATS

Good or bad, the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) has had a significant impact on the job search, and truthfully, it makes some of the strategies discussed here even more important. What this technology has done for employers really can’t be understated. By helping them filter through the stacks of resumes they receive, it allows internal recruiters and hiring managers to filter through less resumes, decreasing the time to hire and (in theory) helping them find the right fit faster.

However, that supposed efficiency doesn’t come without tradeoffs. To cull the herd, these systems often rely on some form of keyword identification, so sometimes they will never see the resume of truly qualified candidates whose resume wasn’t keyword-dense enough to survive the cut.

How to use it?

Full disclosure: I don’t like these things. However, I do understand their utility, and they probably do a better job of screening candidates than bad recruiters, so I guess there’s that.

But for the job searcher, they just eliminate too many good candidates based on their ability to write a resume. The best resume writer is not necessarily the best candidate, and the ATS all too often just skips right over the right candidate due to a less-than-perfect resume.

They are a reality of the job search though, so for a job seeker looking to navigate through this phase, the key is truly understanding the job description you are applying to, not necessarily the job, but the job description.

The ATS takes the job description (often written by HR) and screens applicants based on the keywords of the description. They don’t currently have the ability to understand transferrable or similar skill sets.

So when you submit your resume through these systems, use the description (and the keywords found in it) to tailor your resume as much as possible to that particular job. I know this means you likely have to draft a separate resume for each job, and I know that’s tedious, but if doing that gets you the job that you really want, it’s probably worth it in the end, wouldn’t you say?

3. Job Boards

Did you know that the Monster Job Board was initially introduced in 1994? Yeah, me neither. But that was it, the moment that circling job ads in your local classified page began to die.

Today, job boards are one of the most powerful tools at your disposal as a job seeker. Whether it’s finding open positions at companies across the globe, posting your resume to invite others to reach out to you directly about jobs, or vetting potential employers through online reviews, the job board makes for a powerful tool for anyone that might be looking for a job.

How to use it?

With access to all those jobs, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. It’s even easier to apply to everything with the already-uploaded resume and hope for the best. Don’t do this.

To make the most effective use of job boards, create a plan of attack. Think strategically about the type of position that would interest you, create search alerts for those positions, apply only to those you actually want (or at least the ones you would take if offered), keep a record of where you apply, and follow up. 

It seems simple, but by creating organization around your search, you will be pleasantly surprised by just how fast you will start to get calls and interviews.

4. Mobile

You can find a job on your phone. Just let that sink in for a second. 15 years ago, you could barely make a call on your cell phone (snake was awesome though). Now, the world is quite literally at your fingertips 24/7. You can search for jobs, apply to jobs, research companies, take classes to improve your skills, text a friend for a reference, or if you’re feeling really crazy, you could actually call someone to talk about a job at a specific company. The truth is, you’re probably reading this right now on a cell phone. The whole world is on mobile these days.

How to use it?

This feels self-explanatory, but I’ve got a cadence going here, so I’m just going to go with it. You’re already using your phone daily (probably on social media), now just change the way you spend that time. Instead of scrolling through cat videos, engage with the community in your industry or download any number of apps for the job seeker. Spend your time there, and you will make progress, probably even faster than you anticipate.

5. Recruiters

You’re right. This has nothing to do with technology, but I’m a grown-up; I can do what I want. Good recruiters are already effectively using these tools, and they can help you be more effective in your search. Use them. But first, find one or two that you trust. Because bad recruiters suck (right Taylor Desseyn?).

How to use them?

Look, I get it. Recruiters have earned a bad reputation by spamming people for years, ghosting them completely, and just basically having no idea what people actually do or want to do for a living. So go ahead, approach recruiters with caution if you must but definitely approach them.

Take the time to meet with a couple of recruiters. It’s a time commitment, but finding a recruiter you trust will more than pay you back for that time throughout your career. They will be a trusted resource for you when you are looking, be a source of intel (salaries, trending skills, hiring trends, market trends, etc.) when you aren’t, and if they’re doing it right, you might find they end up being your friend before it’s over.