Job Searching’s Dot-Com Era Is Right Now

by: Steve Dalton
Associate Director & Senior Career Consultant, Career Management Center
Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

Not the bad kind of dot-com, thankfully.  More like Amazon than Pets.com.

This is because online job postings have fundamentally changed the way people look (and hire) for jobs, creating new avenues and closing old ones.   Just as the late 90s presented those with initiative, risk tolerance, and unique approaches a chance at amazing success, the current decade presents job seekers with similar qualities the chance to flourish.   Jeff Bezos was smart and talented, but that didn’t automatically make him a billionaire.  What made him a billionaire was having the idea for Amazon.com before anyone else did, during a time when most were still unfamiliar with the concept of internet shopping.

Nobody has quite figured out what to do about the fact that online job postings have fundamentally changed the job search. That uncertainty is what makes career services such an exciting place to be right now; those with the best ideas have a genuine opportunity to rise above constraints like experience, pedigree, and location which used to be impenetrable.

Online job postings disrupted the job search in two key ways.  First, it dramatically taxed job seekers’ executive function, which is one’s willpower for thinking intelligently.  Second, it dramatically increased hiring managers’ decision anxiety, providing an overwhelming number of options for what used to be simple(r) hiring decisions.  Both job seekers’ willpower and hiring managers’ anxiety must be factored into one’s modern-day job search strategy.

To account for these, job seekers should be given instructions — not suggestions — for finding internal referrals as quickly as possible, since the only way to fairly review hundreds of resumes is to review none at all.  Hiring managers are incentivized to find “good enough” candidates quickly, not perfect candidates slowly, so they will always consider internal referrals before reviewing unendorsed applicants to minimize their decision anxiety.

The 2-Hour Job Search is my attempt to create step-by-step instructions for quickly and effectively getting that internal referral, which is the precursor to most every first interview today.  I do this by breaking the job search down into its component parts — prioritizing targets, establishing contacts, and recruiting advocacy — and optimizing each in turn.

During target prioritization, I teach job seekers several methods for rapidly creating a list of target employers, and then I share with them three key pieces of data they can collect within 25 minutes to order those targets precisely based on quantitative information rather than gut instinct.  During contact establishment, I teach them about the three segments of contacts they will encounter, as well as what critical piece of data they can use to systematically differentiate the helpful segment from the other two.  During the advocacy recruitment step, I teach job seekers a questioning algorithm that allows them to systematically convert contacts to boosters, as well as what 15 minutes of research to do before an informational and how to follow-up afterward to extract the maximum possible benefit.

The 2-Hour Job Search requires abandoning an outdated strategy (along with many of its sacred cows) and adopting a new one  built specifically for the age of information overload.  It is a method tested by hundreds of student iterations that leverages brand-new advances in a variety of fields – such as operations science, psychology, game theory, and behavioral economics – to afford you every possible advantage in the job search.

The 2-Hour Job Search allows job seekers to find success by putting the right ideas to work at the right time, just like 90s internet entrepreneurs did.  MBA CSC members: please join me for my webinar introducing The 2-Hour Job Search to you this Tuesday, November 15th at 2pm EDT.

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