Job Hunting Through the Ages

Job Hunting Through the Ages

Job hunting has changed unrecognisably over the last few decades. People who were looking for work in the 1980s scoff at today’s job hunters, saying they’ve no idea how much harder it was ‘in their day’ to find work.  

Of course, the internet has a lot to answer for, and while it may speak volumes to just leave that nugget there, instead we’ll delve a little deeper and take a look at how job hunting has evolved throughout the ages.

Looking for work in the 1970s and 1980s

If we were to kidnap some unsuspecting current candidates and drop them in the 1970s or 1980s they’d be horrified. It might also take them some time to work out how to escape without Google in their back pocket!

Life was so very different then. ‘PC’ referred to a bobby on the beat. Political impropriety was a notion confined to the Houses of Parliament (not everything’s changed then). It was an ‘anything goes’ kind of time when employers could say and do pretty much what they liked (often while sporting dodgy combovers and unrepentant slacks!).

The CV became widely used in the 1970s and was expected to include personal information such as age and weight. Unconscious bias certainly wouldn’t have been an issue; full strength, turbo-charged bias would have been rife! In the 1970s if the interviewer smoked, then the candidate could light up too. Job adverts could specify a gender and age. As we said, a very different life.

In the 1980s a rise in legislation and policies on equal opportunity, alongside a technology boon and the rise of the word processor, changed the dynamics of recruitment. CVs could be faxed to companies and typewriters were swapped for word processors. Candidates were still expected to submit handwritten covering letters without a single mistake so there were a lot of crumpled pieces of paper in wastepaper baskets across the nation.

It was around this time that there was an increase in skilled workers and women in the workplace so there was more competition for vacant roles. This was when interviewers became more inquisitive, or nosey, and asked questions about aspects of a candidate’s life that didn’t feature on the CV. Questions such as, “What are your weaknesses” crept into the interview dialogue to find out more about the traits of the person behind the CV (or to trip them up).

Candidates could only research a company by making a visit to the library. Information was limited so the interview was crucial for finding out more about a potential employer to determine if they offered a work environment the candidate would like.

The 1990s and the arrival of the internet

With the advent of email and the internet, applicants could apply for jobs online in the 1990s. We also saw the first online job boards from the likes of Monster and CareerBuilder. This opened up a whole new world to candidates of different sectors and job roles they may never have previously  considered. They could look for jobs across multiple industries.

By the end of the 1990s candidates were being advised to remove personal details from CVs. They were also able to post their CVs to job boards and let employers come for them so they no longer had to do all the running. The shift in the recruitment merry-go-round had begun.

Job hunting from 2000

The phrase ‘computer literacy’ became old hat in the first decade of the millennium. Now candidates were expected to list their Microsoft Office prowess by each application. Posting jobs in newspapers and shop windows was no longer the way to advertise, and having one CV to fit all applications was no longer an option as CVs became more scrutinised and questioned.

In the most recent decade, networking and social media have become major players in job hunting. Passive candidates who aren’t looking for a new role are approached by companies and encouraged to move. LinkedIn, which was launched in the UK in 2003 and Facebook have allowed people to connect with a wider network and open up new horizons.

Video interviews, particularly since the pandemic, have revolutionised how we recruit, with candidates given greater freedom to attend an interview out of hours. The role of Artificial Intelligence in the recruitment process has been a game changer in removing unconscious bias and reducing the administration behind finding the best talent.

In 2022 we can see how much job hunting has changed through the ages, and how it continues to react to an ever-evolving recruitment landscape.

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Posted in Help & advice, Company news and tagged #Employment #JobHunting #JobHuntingThroughTheAges on