The difference of a decade


As we begin not just a new year but also a new decade, I’ve been reflecting on the cultural changes that have impacted both job seeking and hiring practices over the last ten years. You may have noticed some of these as well. In 2010, the United States was beginning to emerge from the direst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Unemployment was relatively high, and hiring was sluggish. Smartphones had only been around for a few years, and they were still hideously expensive. You may have been using a BlackBerry instead, and you might have brought hard copies of your presentation with you to your client meetings. What else changed? Read on:

Recruiting software is becoming more user-friendly. ATS (applicant tracking software) systems are still a bit clunky, but they’ve improved immeasurably in a decade. You might even encounter one that takes you an hour to fill out and asks you to repeat the same information over and over again, but for the most part, they’ve become streamlined and require less effort on the part of the job applicant.

Social media and branding are more important than ever. Whereas a resume used to be THE tool in your job-seeking arsenal, it is now a component thereof. While it’s still a key component, it is complemented by your LinkedIn profile, your activity on other forms of social media, and of course, your personal brand.

Automation is on the rise, but hiring is becoming more human. Although more and more hiring companies are using automated recruiting tools, hiring managers themselves are more interested in the people that they’re hiring. They’ve begun to realize that you cannot hire for a skill set alone; they want to know who their candidates are and what they value.

Purple Unicorn Syndrome is waning, but only a bit. Purple Unicorn Syndrome is when a hiring company decides it’s necessary to recruit someone with a skill set that no one has. A client sent me a job description for a marketing VP at a financial services firm. One of the firm’s “must-haves” in their ideal candidate was someone who had an “in-depth understanding of derivatives.” Former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan has publicly said that he does not understand derivatives. I guess that means he was unqualified for this particular job. As the labor market continues to tighten, stories such as these are becoming fewer, although they still exist. Hiring companies have work to do on this. 

Job boards are mostly dead. A decade ago, you may have gone to to look for a job. Static job posting sites have been outpaced by dynamic social sites, such as LinkedIn.

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STEM is not the end-all, be-all after all. Even tech companies have realized that if you staff your organization with people of similar backgrounds and experiences, creativity and innovation will be stifled. While STEM fields are absolutely critical, they are only a part of the larger picture. A decade ago, students were being advised that STEM studies were the only way to go. That, thankfully, has changed.


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