Thirteen years ago when my IT career first started, I had my first experience with the online job search. It was a profound experience because, at the time, I could tell the the job search and the career world were changing. Looking back, I think I may have been on to something.
Those many years ago, I began noticing how the job search was changing. Being in IT, I had to deal with a lot of chaos and job changes – and thus learn about job searches, even if only to be safe. I watched my industry move online quickly, saw companies come and go, saw people adapt – and saw people fall behind.
A fear that struck me that decade-plus ago was sometimes it felt like a great wall was slowly being built in the world of careers – that you had to be more and more technically savvy, internet-connected, and technically aware to do a good job search and lead a good career. I speculated then that someday there may be a big gap between people career-wise just based on the ability to leverage technology for the job search.
I thought of it as a big wall going up, or a web separating people.
Many years later, I was reflecting on this theory and if I had a point or not. I think I did – to an extent.
Right now let us be honest – LinkedIn.com, the use of job search sites, email, social networking, personal sites, etc. is completely unavoidable if you want to do the best job search you can. The technology did not add new barriers – technology is now how the job search and career management is done. If you don't know it, understand it, and use it you are at a disadvantage at best – and at worst, you are stagnant.
What HAS changed that I didn't foresee in my musings that decade-plus ago was that tools would evolve to make things easier on people dealing with these technologies – 'Dummies' books, online tutorials, better automation on the part of sites, job coaches, etc. The 'Wall' may have gone up, but peoples ingenuity means they're finding ways to help people and each other (and make money at it).
In addition, people have embraced the internet more than I'd expected – because it lets you do more. People love productivity tools, so people adapted to the net quicker than I'd expected, partially because of what it does, and because so many worked on helpful tools and technical improvements. That makes "the wall" lower.
So I don't think I was entirely right about technology producing an extreme division of people in their job search and career changes – however I do think that division is still there because of the social changes technology brings. You have to adapt to technology, yes, but you also have to adapt to the ways the job search has changed socially (due to technology and otherwise).
So now your question is not so much if you can use technology – you probably can – but HOW to use it. DO you use a LinkedIn profile or a personal web page? Do you use the job search engine or email past co-workers? Do you use an RSS feed of job opportunities or an Aggregator sites? Now that resumes come in like tidal waves to HR departments do you stand out with a video resume?
Technology isn't the barrier exactly – its the changes it brought that are. You have the tools and can learn them – but you also have to adapt to a world that's different than it was ten years ago.
As for the next ten-fifteen years . . . well, let me get back to you on that . . .
– Steven Savage