The Modern Job Search: Part 1 How Changes in the Last Decade Impact Your Search

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Like many other industries, the job search market has seen remarkable changes in the past 10 years. Here’s a look at some of the most compelling changes that have occurred and how they affect your job search, the application process, and how you should approach your career advancement.

it's all online_The Modern Job Search Part 1 How Changes in the Last Decade Impact Your Search

Searches Have Moved Online

The days of reading the want ads in the morning paper are long gone, according to Chelsea Kerwin, a certified job search professional and client services manager at Great Resumes Fast. She says today’s job searches are conducted online. This may seem obvious, but what might not be quite as obvious is how you need to change your resume, online presence, and other career documents to adapt.

Kerwin says the modern job search and application process requires digital resumes that work well with applicant tracking systems (ATS); a strong, positive presence on social media such as LinkedIn; and effectively utilizing technology such as job sites, job boards, and listings on company websites to supplement your search for career opportunities.

applicant tracking systems_The Modern Job Search Part 1 How Changes in the Last Decade Impact Your Search

The Rise of ATS

While applicant tracking systems (ATS) have been around since the early 2000s, they have become the norm in the last 10 years. Kerwin says 97% of large companies now utilize ATS to sort applicants, and 80% of small- to medium-sized companies are doing the same. This can create problems for job seekers who don’t know what ATS do or how to make their resumes work for them.

“You don’t have to have a different resume for each job, but you do need to tailor it to each position to get through the ATS software,” says Kerwin. “You need to make your resume as relevant as possible to the job for which you are applying.”

For clues about making your resume relevant to the job, you can look to the job description to determine which key terms and phrases you should be using in your resume, particularly in crucial areas such as the header. Key terms and keywords are important because ATS scan for them, and only those resumes with key terms that reflect the job description will be forwarded on for review by an actual person.

If you don’t have a job posting to go by because you are sending a resume and cover letter directly to an employer, you can research similar positions on a job board like Indeed to find key terms to use in your resume.

Strong Materials

Another big change in the job search market is how people are hired. While you might be the most qualified of all the job candidates, Kerwin warns you may not be hired if you don’t have an optimized marketing profile or knowledge of today’s job market.

To combat this problem, your career marketing materials need to be stronger than ever before. Kerwin says the trifecta for job search success is a superior LinkedIn profile, a modern resume, and an updated cover letter. She says these items—particularly your resume—should be fresh and dynamic while avoiding generic or vague content.

“Make them as specific as possible,” says Kerwin. “A modern resume has some formatting that is more visually distinctive such as incorporating color, charts or graphs, an endorsement quote, or a table of key competencies. You want your resume to stand out from the pile.”

A human resources employee or a recruiter might look at dozens—or more—resumes and cover letters a day when trying to fill open positions. Modern formatting and striking language will get you much further than a plain old black and white resume with tiny font that lists dozens of irrelevant skills.

longer hiring times_The Modern Job Search Part 1 How Changes in the Last Decade Impact Your Search

Longer Hiring Times

Companies are now taking longer to hire people. Glassdoor reported the average hiring process in the U.S. increased from 13 days to 23 days between 2010 and 2014. Kerwin attributes this trend to a more competitive job market where hundreds of people may be vying for a single position.

“A big company like Disney may get more than 500 applicants for a position,” she says. “They put them through the ATS and still don’t see them all.”

So don’t be surprised if it takes quite a while for you to get a phone call about an interview…and then even longer to get a call about hiring.

While the length of time it takes to find a job has increased, Kerwin says people are staying in a position for less time. That means more people are looking for jobs more frequently, leading to increased competition for positions. A 2015 Department of Labor report found the average person born in the U.S. from 1957-1964 went job hunting 17.2 times during their working lives and Kerwin expects this will only increase with future generations.

more thorough screening_The Modern Job Search Part 1 How Changes in the Last Decade Impact Your Search

More Thorough Screening

The screening of individuals has also become more strenuous over the last decade. Kerwin says it boils down to trust. When candidates are applying through job boards or sending in resumes, companies want to be sure they are getting solid employees who fit with their work environment. That’s one of the reasons networking is such a great strategy when job searching. It allows you to make a connection with a company, learn about job opportunities, and—very importantly—put a face with your name, instead of just being another among many applicants.

An Employment Shift

The economy has also changed in the last 10 years and there are fewer permanent jobs as employers try to save money on things like benefits. The current economy is shifting to more part-time, temporary, or freelance work as a result.

“If they need a project completed, they will hire someone on a short-term basis as there’s a desire to keep costs down,” says Kerwin, who attributes the change to the 2008 recession. “The number of part-time, freelance, and self-employed workers is expected to account for 40% of the workforce by 2020. It’s kind of insane but makes sense with some of the trends we are seeing now.”

Additionally, Kerwin says, fewer permanent positions means job seekers have had to change their strategy. They now have to find out what employers want as they are competing with the cream of the crop for work. Do they want specific skills? A specific type of experience? A specific type of personality, maybe someone who thrives in a fast-paced environment, or someone who is more relaxed and appreciates that the employer encourages a work-life balance? In today’s professional world, many companies are looking for different things—you need to convey to employers that you not only have the skills and achievements, but are also the type of employee who will do well in their work environment.

So what are the most effective modern strategies for job hunting? Read The Modern Job Search Part 2 to find out.

Are you tired of your resume being rejected by applicant tracking systems? I know how frustrating it is to submit your resume and receive no response. I hate seeing qualified people never breakthrough the screening process. It shouldn’t be that way. That’s why I created this guide and I encourage you to download the FREE PDF so you can start seeing better resume response rates!

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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!


  1. […] Searches Have Moved Online The days of reading the want ads in the morning paper are gone, according to Chelsea Kerwin, a certified job search professional and client services manager at Great Resumes Fast. She said today’s job searches are conducted online. Kerwin said the modern jo…More at […]

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