How job-hunting has changed in the last 20 years

Looking for a job?

How many applications have you sent so far?

5? 20? 493?

Not so long ago–let’s say less than 20 years ago–it wasn’t uncommon to open up a newspaper and go straight to the jobs section, find a job and apply by phone or mail. Or even more common was to simply know someone important enough to get you an interview or a job without even applying.

Although you could still go buy a newspaper and try to look for jobs there, it’s not quite the smartest thing to do. Yes, there are job boards on newspaper websites, but it’s much more efficient to look elsewhere. But the second 90s job-hunting strategy is still very alive nowadays, under a different name: networking.

Yes, the ultimately cool NETWORKING.

Networking is a cool-kids name that someone invented for a practice that’s existed since forever. The ancient Greeks had marketplaces called “agoras”, where people such as politicians, businessmen or philosophers got together, greeted friends and enjoyed casual business lunches. The influential French held salon meetings, where great philosophical discussions took place. You even “network” when you’re hanging out watching football and drinking a cold beer. The only difference is that, now, it’s much easier to network globally with tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, and even emails.


Though what is the price that we had to pay for such convenience? Nowadays you can send 20 applications in less than an hour (if they all use the same platform), and then you get to spent your time doing other, more interesting activities. But the price? The price we pay is employer “pickiness”. It is estimated that about 250 applications are received for every corporate job opening. If you want to work at Google, your chances of getting in are lower than getting accepted to Harvard: exactly 0.5 to 0.4 percent.

It’s true there are many people sending CV’s (resumes) to jobs that they are not even qualified for, but the selection process used by companies is also very picky. But it’s necessary. Just think for a moment about how you would find the perfect candidate out of 1000 applications.

Before, you could have a high school or a college degree in pretty much any subject and if they liked you, a company would make sure to teach you from zero how to do many things that you hadn’t even heard before. These days, there are some companies like that (I’m thinking huge corporations with the $$ to invest in training) but far too many modern companies require “expertise” for senior positions (which makes sense) and for more junior positions (which doesn’t). These companies should look for not experience but talent in these young professionals, that intangible and innate value in your candidate. I mean, I can teach a waiter how to serve or handle the orders, but I can’t teach him/her to care about the customers.

So in order to meet all the requirements in that coveted job posting, you can either “adapt” your CV to “fit” each position, or/and try to network as much as possible to find someone that can make you stand out from a pool of 200 applicants.

Either way, the advice from us is to invest in quality over quantity. You’ll have much higher chances of getting a job by adapting a couple of CVs to the highlight the applicable qualification and hardcore-stalking people who work in that company through LinkedIn.

Job-hunting nowadays is much easier…or is it? Like anything in life, there’s always a counterbalance. Newspapers are now online, and knowing someone is called networking. All you have to do to survive is to learn how to master both, and you will have really high chances to find the perfect job for you.

See our tips and tricks for standing out in a digital application.