Applying for a job in today’s market isn’t like it was twenty years ago, and some differences seem to get bigger with each passing year. When the Internet was in its infancy, people started their entry-level job search by creating or amending their resume, much like we do today. However, their resume was likely to be produced on paper with a typewriter, without the benefit of being able to tweak each copy to a particular company or a particular job without having to recreate their entire resume. As a result, cover letters became a very important part of applying for a job.
Additionally, finding a job often meant hours of searching through the jobs section of local newspapers or relentlessly networking to get info on new opportunities. It was much harder to find a job outside your local area. For entry-level job searches outside one’s local area, national newspapers were often the only way to find suitable roles. Now, with the Internet, an ad for a job anywhere in the world is at your fingertips.
One similarity between then and now is that finding a job is often aided by the people you know. Parents, friends, and acquaintances were – like now –are often the sources of many opportunities. Naturally, there were also fewer college graduates 20 years ago, so those with degrees often found themselves at the top of the interview list. As college has become more accessible, this is no longer the case. A degree is expected, and it is much harder to stand out from the crowd.
Another significant difference between applying for a job now and then is that there is much less gender association. Women can – and do – have good careers in areas that 20 years ago would be rarely open to them, such as in the field of engineering.
Additionally, the idea of “job hopping” has become something much more common. Twenty years ago, people started a job expecting to stay with the same company their entire working life or at least for a significant amount of time. Nowadays, that is the exception rather than the rule. “Job hopping” is often seen as a career-building move due to changes in company structure and hierarchy; those who do it often gain new experience and expand their resumes. In the past, the action was more likely to be seen as a sign of an unsuitable employee while now it has become the norm.
A lot has changed from twenty years ago to today in the job search world. One thing that remains constant though is that having a positive attitude, working hard, and demonstrating your worth is the best way to be successful in your entry-level job search.