Job market technology requires a rethink

BIG RISK: Are employers starting to hire people who are good at the process, rather than those who will be good at the job?

BIG RISK: Are employers starting to hire people who are good at the process, rather than those who will be good at the job?

Technology skills are becoming a required component of job searching practices, even for roles that don’t require the use of computers in the tasks of the job.

I am seeing an increasing number of clients who need help with the technology of job search as much as the preparation of key application documents.

From setting up Seek profiles so they can apply for jobs listed on the site, to storing documents in the cloud so they can be accessed on mobile devices, the technical side of applying for jobs is no longer limited to the ability to use Microsoft Word to write a document.

I have worked with a number of clients who don’t own a computer, showing them how to save their career documents from their email to their cloud storage, how to download the apps they need in order to edit them, and how to then reattach them to emails or upload to job boards so they can apply for jobs.

Then, of course, there is the applicant tracking software to navigate and the importance of the use of keywords and appropriate formatting so the computer will shortlist you and a human pair of eyes will finally get to see your application documents.

I have spent many hours coaching clients in how to adapt their resume and cover letter to meet the needs of the software.

This focus on technology coaching is becoming a growing part of my role as a career practitioner, especially because the very nature of technology is that it is ever-changing, evolving and becoming “smarter”.

And so, retaining currency in job search technology processes is becoming vital to the success of the candidate just to reach interview.

Our consumerist reliance on technology to make our decisions for us has crept its way into the job market, and in an effort to minimise risk we have handed over our decision-making process to a series of technological programs.

Imagine being a candidate who has been in the same job for 10 years, and is seeking support to apply for another job in this day and age. Many of these candidates haven’t even got a resume to start with because they’ve never needed one before, as they’d always managed to find work through their network. Job seeking in the 2010s can seem like a very daunting experience.

I am left to wonder if this explosion of technology into the job market is actually a good thing. It’s sold to hirers as a convenience, a support, a risk minimiser.

It saves you money (despite its significant cost) because it will ultimately save you from a poor hiring decision. We have resume scanners, video interviews, online testing for cognitive ability, personality, aptitude, interests and behaviour prediction.

We even have assessment disguised as computer games, where the candidate has no idea what is being tested or how it’s being tested, and they are told to simply go with their gut.

Our consumerist reliance on technology to make our decisions for us has crept its way into the job market, and in an effort to minimise risk we have handed over our decision-making process to a series of technological programs designed to weigh us, measure us, and no doubt, find most of us wanting.

Gone are the days of developing a sense of instinct, of accountability for our decisions and responsibility for our actions. After all, “the computer made me do it.”

But what of the people who aren’t comfortable in the realm of computers and technology? The people who are applying for a job that don’t have need for extensive use of computer-based technology? Are we putting them at a disadvantage? Are we choosing to hire people who are good at the process, rather than good at the job?

I would argue that in many cases, businesses need to be wary of hiring people who are good at the job application process, rather than good at the job that they are applying for.

Of course, the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but there are a lot of strong candidates who seem to miss out on interviews because they panic in assessment situations or simply don’t have the technical skills to know how to login to undertake them in the first place.

I think we need to reassess our use of these tools and reinvest in the strength of the human decision-maker. It’s a brave new world out there.

Zoë Wundenberg is a careers writer, counsellor and coach at impressability.com.au

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