Few job seekers would want to go back to 2007. Sure, unemployment was fairly low. Fewer than 5% of Americans were out of work, well below the nearly double-digit unemployment rate we’d see a couple of years later. But the Great Recession was looming, the job market was weak, and the share of Americans who believed it was a good time to look for work was about to fall off a cliff.
The way we all looked for jobs was different, too. LinkedIn public profiles had only been around for a year and didn’t even have photos yet. Few people — if any — were applying for a job with their still-novel iPhone. (The first Apple smartphone hit store shelves in June 2007.) No one was talking about the “gig economy,” and career experts weren’t yet advising you to take your job search to Twitter.
In short, looking for a job in 2017 looks a lot different than it did in 2007, as a recent report from workplace insights platform Kununu revealed. Today’s job seekers have different expectations for everything — from how they’ll find out about open positions to how they’ll communicate with a company during the interview process. The result, according to Kununu, is a job-search landscape where candidates are more empowered than ever. And companies that want to attract the best talent will need to step up their game.
Job seekers and companies both must adapt to this changing world. Here are eight huge ways job hunting has changed in just 10 years. Do you agree?
Then: Few companies were researching candidates online
A decade ago, Myspace still ruled when it came to social networking, and few companies were researching candidates online. That year, just 25% of hiring managers were conducting Google searches on candidates, and only 1 in 10 were using social networking sites in their screening process, a CareerBuilder survey found.
Now: Having a messy online presence could hurt you
By 2016, roughly 60% of hiring managers researched job candidates online or checked out their social media profiles at some point in the hiring process, CareerBuilder found. Now, companies might use the information they find about you online to confirm your qualifications or evaluate your communication skills. Others find a reason not to hire, such as negative comments about a former employer or evidence of drug use. All the more reason to make sure that your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn reflect the best version of you there is.
Then: The human element ruled in hiring
As recently as 10 years ago, you could apply for jobs at many companies and expect that a real person would be on the receiving end to review your cover letter and resume. Although online applications that allowed companies to search candidate resumes for keywords certainly existed, the human element still ruled in hiring. A person still needed to evaluate those resumes that passed the initial screening and then decide whom to interview and eventually hire. But things are very different now.
Now: It’s all about the algorithm
Increasingly, getting hired at big companies isn’t about wowing your interviewer — it’s about wowing an algorithm. Recruiters and companies are turning to big data to find the perfect candidate, noted Wired, and the process goes far beyond searching for people with the right keywords in their resume. An employer might also build a “social profile” of their ideal candidate. Then, they’ll actively look for someone who matches the profile, rather than waiting for a candidate to come to them.
At Unilever, which makes Dove soap and other products, some applicants are being asked to complete quizzes and answer questions via video. Those whom an algorithm identifies as potentially strong hires (based, for example, on their facial expressions and vocabulary during the video question session) move forward to a face-to-face interview.
Then: Researching companies and jobs was a challenge
In 2007, job seekers had relatively few ways to find out about companies and what positions they were seeking to fill, noted Kununu. Although job searching had largely moved online, some people were still circling the want ads in the Sunday paper. In fact, enough companies were paying for help-wanted notices in newspapers that the Conference Board was still using print ads to track levels of labor demand.
Aside from ads online and in print, those looking for a job could check out company websites, tap their own personal network to find out about openings or turn to a headhunter for help.
Now: Finding out about jobs is easier than ever
In 2017, candidates have dozens of ways to search for jobs. Sure, the newspaper print ad is all but dead (the Conference Board stopped tracking them in 2008, switching to looking at online job postings to measure the labor market’s health). But online job searching is more vibrant than ever.
In addition to job ads on sites, such as Monster and CareerBuilder, which were already going strong in 2007, many job seekers rely on social media in their job hunt in a way few imagined they would have a decade ago. LinkedIn has gone from 8 million members in 2007 to 500 million today, and many people now see the networking site as the starting point for their job search. Facebook added job postings in 2017, and some companies even advertise their openings using Twitter. Then, there are services, such as Jobr, which is like Tinder for jobs. Say those last three words to anyone in 2007, and they would have thought you were talking gibberish.
Then: Job seekers were tied to their desks
Job searching had moved online by 2007, but technological limitations meant that looking for work still required sitting down at your desk to type out cover letters or research companies, noted Kununu’s report. Smartphones were relatively rare, and it would be another few years before tablets were commonplace. In the meantime, those looking to switch employers either had to do it on their own time, at home, or get really good at stealth job searching at work.
Now: The job hunt has gone mobile
The era of the mobile job search is here. Three-quarters of Americans own a smartphone, according to Pew Research, compared to 35% in 2011, and almost 90% of people younger than 40 have such a device in their pocket. Today, a majority of Americans of all ages are using their smartphone to search for work, according to Indeed. Services, such as Snagajob and LinkedIn, make it easy to apply for a job with the click of a button. Today, you can apply for a job on your coffee break.
Then: You had to trust what a company said about itself
A decade ago, it was harder for candidates to get the inside scoop on a company. Most information out there came from the company itself. If you were lucky, you knew a person who worked at the place where your were applying who could give you the lowdown on what to expect. But if you didn’t have an insider connection, finding out what life was really like at a prospective employer was tough. Employer review sites, such as Glassdoor, didn’t even exist yet.
Now: You can read reviews from actual employees
Glassdoor launched in 2008, giving employees the chance to anonymously rate their employer. You can also find employer review on sites, such as Indeed and Kununu. Poking around Facebook and Twitter can give you an idea of what employees and clients or customers think of a company, and targeted Google searches can uncover revealing information, as well. Many candidates today also want to talk to current employees who aren’t in HR, according to Kununu’s report. People are less likely to trust potential employers who don’t let them talk to potential colleagues before they accept an offer.
Then: Buttoned up, formal interviews were the norm
Job interviews were a strictly formal affair in 2007, noted Kununu. As far as the question of what to wear, there was just one answer. “You need to wear a suit,” wrote Alison Green of Ask a Manager in early 2008. “It signals that you take the job seriously.” The rule about formal attire applied in all but a few fields a decade ago.
In addition to more formal clothing, interviews themselves were more formal 10 years ago, according to Kununu. All too often, job seekers were subjected to a nerve-wracking, face-to-face sit-down with a humorless HR rep in a windowless conference room. That still describes some interviews today, but at some companies the interview process is changing.
Now: Interviewing is more casual
What a difference a few years makes. Today, the rules about interview clothing are far more flexible, noted Monster. While suits are still de rigueur in some fields, formal dress is less common as more companies take their cues from the ultra-casual tech industry. While you still want to dress up for an interview, these days that might mean stylish separates for women and a button-up shirt and jacket for men, but no tie.
As interviewees lose the ties, the interview itself is getting less structured. Now, a hiring manager or recruiter might start out by inviting you for a casual cup of coffee. The event might be presented as a conversation rather than an interview, and business casual attire might be totally appropriate, noted The Balance.
Then: Good middle-income jobs were still out there
In 2007, many Americans made a decent living working at middle-income jobs. These jobs may not have paid big bucks, but they provided a solid living to many people. While there were already signs of trouble (the number of well-paying manufacturing jobs had been shrinking for year), two-thirds of people were confident that if they were laid off, they wouldn’t have much trouble finding a similar job, a Gallup poll found. That was all about to change.
Now: The middle-class workforce is shrinking
The Great Recession hurt almost everyone, but middle-income workers took a particularly hard blow. Sixty percent of jobs lost from 2008 to 2012 were in mid-wage occupations. Since then, the economy has largely recovered, but many of those good jobs haven’t come back. Many of the new jobs added since the downturn have been low-wage ones. That has pushed more formerly middle-class Americans down the income ladder. Companies might be hiring. But for frustrated job seekers, the open positions may not be enough to pay the bills.
Then: Employers were in the driver’s seat
A decade ago, employers had most of the power in the job-search process. Job seekers struggled to find information about candidates and companies. Employers didn’t have to worry about disgruntled employees or candidates writing negative reviews on sites, such as Glassdoor, or shooting off angry tweets. Plus, jobs were getting harder to find, and employers could afford to be picky about whom they hired. Thankfully, things are a little different today.
Now: Candidates have more power
Looking for a job in 2017 couldn’t be more different than it was in 2007. With more information about companies and jobs out there, candidates have started take some of the power in the job search back from employers. Job seekers do have to contend with HR managers who spy on their social media and opaque hiring algorithms. However, highly qualified candidates have more power to negotiate offers and more confidence that they can hold out for the job they really want, noted Kununu, and “the power has shifted from the employer to the job seeker.”