It’s no exaggeration to say that technology has radically changed the face of work in modern society. Moreover, as many job-seekers are discovering, it’s also transforming the way we look for work.
In past columns I have heavily promoted networking and, wherever possible, applying in person as key to the job search. I still believe this approach has the best chance of success, particularly in smaller communities like Port Alberni. Yet over the past couple of years I have noticed a trend toward companies -- chiefly chain stores -- requiring applications to be submitted on-line. Candidates who try to drop off resumés are instead directed to apply by e-mail or through the company website.
This arrangement is a bit awkward on both sides. On the one hand you have companies inundated with job applications, who -- however they might wish otherwise -- lack the staff resources to engage every applicant who walks through their door. In the case of franchises, they may also be bound by policies from head office, and have minimal control over the initial stages of the hiring process.
On the other hand you have applicants who desperately want (but are denied) the chance to meet directly with employers and leave a more “human” impression. It’s especially tough in the service industry, or any position where personal presentation, communication, and the like are integral to the job. How are you supposed to dazzle the employer with your people skills if you can’t get a face-to-face meeting?
The unfortunate fact for job-seekers is that Port Alberni, along with many other jurisdictions, is currently an employer’s market. The onus is on applicants to aggressively pursue work leads, and follow the employer’s requirements to the letter if they want a shot at the job. In a growing number of cases, your first contact with the company will not be face-to-face, but electronic. This means that now, more than ever before, it’s your ability to market yourself in writing that will spell the difference between being shortlisted or ejected from the game.
Let me stress that I’m absolutely not saying your presentation and interpersonal skills are unimportant. These are still an invaluable part of the application process, and doubly so in service-oriented jobs. What I am saying is that more and more often, your chance to meet with the employer will hinge on your first breaching the “electronic barrier” with well-chosen, written words. If this presents a challenge for you, guidance is luckily close at hand through the local WorkBC Employment Service Centre (4805-B Mar Street) and its partner agencies around town. Making your first contact by computer may not be ideal, but it is increasingly the reality of today’s working world… and something you’ll need to grapple with in your quest for success on the job trail.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: “Do what you love and love what you do.” (Ray Bradbury, American author, 1920 - 2012)