A 2012 Job Search

A lot has changed over the years when it comes to job searching, and while younger job seekers don’t fully understand the change in job search dynamics, you have to feel some sympathy for the job seeker who is in their 40’s or older.

Looking for a job today involves not only knocking on doors, and making phone calls, it means using social media, computers, on-line application completion and targeted resumes are mandatory. The generation of job seekers who are older than 40 are really the transitional job seekers between an older out-of-date job searching style, and the new reality.

Just as one generation had to deal with colour television, home computers and cell phones for example, job searchers in the past wouldn’t have had a clue what Twitter, Bing, Google, Facebook, Linkedin or webinars were and yet they are commonplace for people now. There are still many people however who resist embracing technology, and still rely on trying to walk in without a resume and ask for a chance to show an employer what they can do for a day or even a week without getting paid in the hope of landing a job. While this is commonplace more in the trades and manual labour, the practice is going out the door due to liability, law suits and unionized work.

Resistance to learning new skills, such as keyboarding proficiency is something younger job seekers don’t fully understand in large part because they have been learning about technology ever since they’ve been young and have had it both at home and school. However older workers didn’t even have the option of learning about computers in some cases as there were no home computers! The standard computer was the size of your living room wall – all of it! Then along came the Commodore 64 and others like it. Man they were bulky, slow by today’s standards and woefully basic. Still, they were the thing to have at one time. We’ve come so far so fast that these machines are now in museums dedicated to advances in technology. Man a cell phone was so bulky it was the size of a metal lunchbox, and you had to extend an aerial to use it.

One of the advantages however that older mature job seekers have in a generalized sense however is their ability to communicate, to speak with strangers and in some cases their work ethic. Now I know there are many exceptions but I still believe that many of those people are comfortable introducing themselves and can talk with pride about their work. One drawback of technology if not used in conjunction with face-to-face interaction is that one can become isolated from real social interaction. In other words, if you are sitting behind a screen punching a keyboard to communicate, that’s time you are not spending shaking hands, making eye contact, listening to others using your interpersonal skills.

Older folks get that in the end you have to eventually meet people in person and talk. Be it at an interview, your first few days on a job or trying to learn about what a company does, at some point your social skills and people skills will have to come out. You definitely don’t want to be seen as a techie that has no people skills or you’ll be forever cloistered in some IT dungeon segregated from the rest of humanity with no chance of promotion.

While it may be daunting and intimidating, both the older and the younger job seeker should take the best qualities of the other group and learn them. If you are 40 plus with limited technology skills and don’t really understand how to use social media, it would serve you well to learn at least one or two and then you’ll understand what they are all about and how they can help you in your job search. On the other hand, if you are entirely wired for the internet and learned social media just as easily as walking but don’t have well developed interpersonal skills, you would be well advised to get out more, put the technology aside sometimes and just talk to people. Yes people do actually talk without simultaneously texting while listening to music streaming through headsets. If you can believe it, you’re world won’t collapse if you let an email sit unopened for an entire day! It’s true!

If you do make use of one social media platform, no matter which you use, spend enough time on it to make it a regular practice. If you blog, do it often so you become reliable. If you tweet, tweet enough so your visibility is enhanced. If you’re into Facebook, do more than tell everyone what you had for breakfast and don’t only post your photos. Learn how to use the technology to help you rather than hinder you.

Being a dinosaur and refusing to learn new skills either way will only result in your personal extinction from job obtainment. If you enjoy job searching and don’t really need to actually get a job itself, you should probably not learn any new skills and just plod along. If however, you want to really enhance your chances of landing a job or career, rather than strengthening your strengths, work on improving a weak area. The result is a balanced job search strategy and you’ll be prepared when the interviewer asks you the question, “So name a weakness and what are you doing to improve it?”

Job searching in 2012 is different than in 1989 or even 2000. If you don’t adapt to the new trends that become standards, you’ll be left on the sidelines when it comes to landing interviews. All the lamenting about how things aren’t like they used to be won’t turn back the clock.

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