6 Ways The Job Search Has Changed Post-Recession

job search post recessionBy Debra Auerbach

The recession changed a lot of things. It changed the way people spend money, the way they save for retirement, the way they invest in stocks. It's also changed the way companies recruit employees. Gone are the days when companies courted prospective employees, hiring managers offered generous starting bonuses and job seekers could choose from multiple offers.

Since the recession ended in June 2009, companies have been slowly emerging from survival mode and have begun more active hiring. Yet the job market has been forever changed, and job seekers have had to face a new reality when going about their job hunt.

So how does a job seeker emerge successful in this post-recession job market? Here are six ways the job search has changed and the adapted tactics needed to get hired.

1. Passive job searching is no longer an option

Pre-recession, it wasn't uncommon for a skilled, qualified job seeker to be romanced by a prospective employer. Recruiters would actively seek out candidates without the candidates having to do much in the way of aggressive follow up. That's rarely the case anymore. These days, job seekers need to be proactive in order to find jobs and get the attention of employers. "This means job seekers must be active in their job search and set 'alerts' on major job boards/search engines so they are notified when an appropriate job match is posted," says Daniel Newell, job development and marketing specialist for San Jose State University's Career Center in San Jose, Calif. "This also means that job seekers should utilize several job-search strategies, such as job boards, job-search engines, classifieds, networking sites and social media, in addition to job fairs and hiring events."

2. Fewer jobs mean more competition

In the early 2000s, jobs were more plentiful, and if you didn't get one job, chances are there'd be another one just like it. Yet nowadays, the odds are not in a job seeker's favor. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when the recession began in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons per job opening was 1.8. When the recession ended in June 2009, there were 6.1 unemployed persons per job opening. While the number has since been trending downward and is currently at 4.2 (as of November), you still need to find ways to stand out from the competition.

"The burden of proof has shifted to the job seeker to demonstrate value and fit," says Roy Cohen, career coach and author of "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide." "Job seekers need to be bolder and more energetic in this very challenging market. They need to show that they're willing to go above and beyond and that they'll work hard, tirelessly and take initiative to get the job done." Cohen also says that job seekers need to be more solution-oriented. "It's not enough to say, 'Here I am.' The emphasis is now on, 'Here's what I can do for you.'"

3. Mistakes, even minor, are not tolerated

Back in the "glory days" before the recession, mistakes made in application materials or during an interview weren't ideal, but they weren't necessarily automatic deal breakers, either. If a candidate misspelled a word on their résumé but otherwise had all the right qualifications, the employer may have let the error slide. In this job market, there's absolutely no room for errors. "Nothing less is accepted or tolerated in a market where there are many more candidates than positions, and companies need to be sold on adding headcount," Cohen says.

To avoid making costly mistakes, proofread your résumé backward and forward, and then have someone else proof it again. Ensure you're fully prepared for an interview by researching the company and practicing answering interview questions.

4. Social media is the new recruiting tool

Before the recession, HR teams were more robust and better equipped to manage the hiring process. During the recession many companies downsized, leaving HR short-staffed and buried under piles of résumés. Recruiters have had to finds ways to more efficiently recruit, and social media has become a solution for hiring managers to more quickly find and screen candidates. That means job seekers need to have a social media presence, and a professional one at that.

"Social media has made a huge impact for job seekers," says Lavie Margolin, career coach and author of "Lion Cub Job Search: Practical Job Search Assistance for Practical Job Seekers." "Employers are using social media to post job openings and look into candidate backgrounds via private Facebook pages. Job seekers have an opportunity to increase their visibility ... via their LinkedIn page and possibly a blog that is industry-focused."

5. Customization is critical

It is no longer acceptable in this post-recession job market to use a "spray and pray" method of applying for jobs. Blanket emailing recruiters with the same generic résumé will ensure your application gets tossed to the side. Newell says it's important that job seekers create targeted résumés. "They must have a different résumé for each job they are applying for, and they must ensure that they effectively communicate their skills which relate to the job [for which] they are applying." The same goes for cover letters.

6. Networking is more important than ever

It's becoming more and more of an advantage in today's world to know someone within the company you're applying to so your résumé gets in the right hands. While not everyone has automatic connections, there are other ways to build relationships. One way to do so is through networking. "My advice to today's job seeker is to network," Newell says. "Job seekers should join groups and attend socials through sites such as MeetUp and LinkedIn. Attending a casual social and being active in online and offline groups can open many doors to employment."

The job market may not look the same as it did five years ago, but that doesn't mean you have to start from square one. It just means that by equipping yourself with the job-search tools needed in today's world, you'll be in a better position to get hired.

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February 16 2012 at 2:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Will Am I

If this is the new "reality" we are all in for it.. This mentality will create opportunities for the b.s artists' and those who go out and pay someone to create multiple resumes. I mean, what is that? Having to have so many resumes just tells me that people are writing what the employers want to hear. If that's how companies are going to do things going forward, they will find out very soon that it is a flawed model.

February 09 2012 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I find this whole article truly depressing. It seems to me that human resource dictators have thrown aside common sense for some kind of new "job seeking culture." I can't tell you how many jobs that I've pursued where it was pretty obvious that someone OBLIVIOUS to the actual requirements of the job wrote the job description and qualifications. I have since discovered that these know nothings had the nerve to cut and paste these items from O*NET without identifying the actual needs of their own organizations. Look at any ten of these job listings and you will discover typos and grammatical errors. Whatt a huge bunch of F%^&^*)( hypocrites!

February 08 2012 at 10:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
PFI Displays

Wonderful article! I wish every job hunter would read this and take it to heart.

I've reviewed countless resumes over the last few months, and the amount of mistakes, "spray and pray" cover letters, etc is mind numbing.

If I can add 2 other points to your list:
1) Actively Seek Out The Job. I'm trying to hire sales people, and their follow up is overwhelmingly poor. Call me, email me, stay on top of the opportunity and earn you way into the position! I would say the same thing if I was hiring an admin, a marketer, or pretty much any other position. Make me believe you want the job, and I'll want to give it to you!
2) Answer Your Cell Phone: If you're sending your resume out, with your cell phone number on it, ANSWER the phone when it rings. It seems that 95% of the folks I've called for a phone interview are screening their calls. But guess what: By the time they listen to my VM and call me back, I'm already on to another call, or another task. It shouldn't be hard for a hiring manager to reach you. That just makes it harder for you to win the job.

February 07 2012 at 5:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am so thankful my employer realizes that mistakes happen. If they hadn't hired me because of a typo or spelling error on my resume they would have missed out on having a dedicated employee. I may not walk on water but it's of the utmost importance to me that I do my job well. If a hiring manager is such a perfectionist that they wouldn't hire me due to a typo or spelling error then I likely wouldn't want to work there anyway. I'd rather go bartend somewhere.

February 04 2012 at 5:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is called Obama spin. You never ever hear any negative news on Obama job.
Yet, everything is sunshine and roses. So not true, people smarten up.

February 03 2012 at 5:38 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Do realize we are in serious trouble in this country?
At anytime, the government could decide that we are now is a full blown recession. That means without warning, they don't have to give you any, that when you wake up the next morning, all your savings and all your money, won't be worth the paper it is printed on. Go ahead and think it is over, you are a very big FOOL, who'll get the shock of your life one day when you turn on the TV and we are totally broke. We are very close as a nation. S&P has aready downgraded out dollar. You better pray, and vote in a new Potus. 4 year's of this one were a total waste. Were worse then with Bush, because Obama open the dike wider.

February 03 2012 at 5:35 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Faith's comment

Its kind of hard to clean up 8 years of BUSH in a 4 year period, HELLO!!!!!!!!!!!

February 07 2012 at 2:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Destiny Kitty

I agree with the person who questioned your assumption that the recession has 'already ended.' HUH? Unless you are living in Buckingham Palace ( or make that the Palace of Versailles with the whole cake thing ) you surely would know that we are in an economic tailspin, the housing market is a bad dream, jobs are scarce and good pay is even more difficult to find. However, you DO offer good ideas to update one's approach to the new job market thru social networking, etc. Yes, its a whole new world out there .

To the person who complains that they are being labeled 'overqualified', for God sake, did you ever think of dumbing down your resume? You can tailor it ( be it on line or where you are putting it ) to the specs that will get you the job...make it honest, but leave off your Ph.d. in Gnat's A** Analysis.

February 03 2012 at 5:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Destiny Kitty's comment

Yes... I've "Dummed Down" my resume - tailored it for "Each" job I apply to (Duh).. .it's the Interview part where I'mOover-Qualified... I have no problem getting Job interviews - I don't even fall into the category where I don't have the skills... It's the people sitting across from me who don't have my knowledge... They know they "need" my help, but its just like "ncexcavation" said below me and I echoed the sentiment - A Drone.. is a Drone is a Drone... Don't challenge... just do.. You're asked to do.. but not to think... When asked to think... you'd better know... Being smart today is an intimidation factor - its ALL about how you look to fit the mold with other Good Looking dummies emulating the same thing...
(I guess when dumming it down... I get found out by 'pretending' to be dummer than what the job requires) SMH.

February 03 2012 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I saw a job ad yesterday for what I assume was an employment agency. They wanted somebody who could work with the "scanning software for resumes". That tells you right there that they look for certain things. My problem is this - my experience is what it is. I can't pretty it up to please somebody. I have a lot of great experience and if that's not good enough, it's your loss. There are a lot of good, hardworking people out there, and companies are missing them because of their silly rules. At my last job, I hardly ever took a sick day. In fact, my supervisor pointed that out. I was 56 when I lost that job. But all of the under 35 people called in all the time. Our country is not good at protecting employees. Unions are good in that respect, but there needs to be more laws that protect everybody. The fact that you can be fired because you called your menopausal supervisor a snob should not be allowed. But it is allowed because I live in a "right to work" state, where you can be fired for any damn reason they can come up with.

February 03 2012 at 5:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Flicka DiMare'

Excuse me dear editor or whomever wrote this story, I stopped reading at the lie/line that read "Since the recession ended in June 2009". REALITY CHECK. With sky high unemployment, record setting foreclosures, more people on foodstamps than off....you must be psychotic or something to think that could be true. Unless you mean we went from recession into depression. Get real. The middle class is in poverty, the dollar isn't worth the paper it's printed on, and the world is heading into total tailspin. Geesh.

February 03 2012 at 4:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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