Great Scott! October 21, 2015 marks 30 years since Marty McFly went Back to the Future.

To an 80’s teenager, 1955 might as well have been 1855. What was up with the white socks and shiny black shoes? Poodle skirts – really?! And what in the world is a hope chest?

And now here we are in 2015. Pretty heavy, huh? Where are the flying cars, hover-boards, and “Mr. Fusion?”

The future may not have panned out as we thought, but that won’t prevent us from predicting what will be, and reminiscing about what was.

Job search sure has changed in 60+ years:

1950’s:  Postwar boom:  people show up with resumes in-hand.

1980’s:  Faxing (resumes) is all the rage!

Today:  Social Media, Online job boards, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), and Recruiting have all changed how we job search.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, making a few predictions along the way – it’s time to Bring Your Career Back To The Future !

Social Media

bttf_thumb1Then: Bouffant styles and beehives reigned supreme in the 50’s. In the 80’s, it was mullets and AquaNet. Computers were a far rarer commodity, best known as the breeding grounds for pocket-protecting wearing social rejects. It wasn’t until the 90s and the rise of the internet that things took off, with emerging services such as Usenet and Listserv paving the way for future mass-popularity web sites-  Friendster, MySpace, and LinkedIn in 2003.

Now:  LinkedIn not only provides the highest quality of applicants, but social recruiting through LinkedIn has improved the quantity of candidates, temp-to-hire, and employee referrals. estimates that around 46% of all companies use social media to source candidates, and accessing social media through mobile devices is increasing every year.

The Future: Social networking, social recruiting, and the use of mobile devices in the job search are trends that are consistently rising. As the online recruiting business evolves, companies are taking the methods that work best for them (job postings, resumes, and candidate acquisition).   Companies have begun to use cloud computing with social networking concepts to develop interactive communities that connect people based on shared business needs or experiences. Niche social networks (a smaller social space that appeals to a very specific audience) are also projected to gain in popularity.  Social networks will continue to be controversial due to the impact on individual privacy and exposure of inappropriate content – something job seekers need to be especially mindful of.

Online Job Boards

bttf_thumb2Then:  20 years ago, a “job board” was literally a job board:  a list hanging outside a college career center or employment agency. Then there was the Sunday paper – remember waiting for and intently perusing the Sunday Mega-Jobs section?

Now:  How things have changed in a mere 20 years! First came Monster, then Career Builder and several other job search engines. Then came, a job aggregator that collects information from a long list of other job boards and presents it as a summary for employers and job seekers to use. But job seeker beware: if you’re using to search for jobs, you’re not alone. In today’s competitive world, before a job has been advertised, it has likely already been filled.

The Future: Job boards are seeing stiff competition from LinkedIn and other social media sites, so it’s very likely that we will soon see aggregate changes in order for job boards to generate revenue and remain competitive. Job board owners will need to become more proactive in their screening procedures and do more to prevent unwanted traffic from polluting their candidate pools. The potential good news for job seekers:  job boards are still popular, are being used, and are still relevant. Your credentials may soon be seen by job boards you didn’t even sign up for. As long as you use necessary keywords and SEO content, your resume will be seen by every major employer on the internet, significantly increasing your chances of getting hired.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

bttf_thumb3Then:  With the advent of the internet and online mega job boards, anyone had the ability to apply for any job with the click of a button.  This created challenges for HR staff, who had to sift through thousands of resumes – thus, the ATS was born as a mechanism to screen the most qualified candidates by keywords. Unfortunately, many candidates went overboard with “keyword stuffing”, submitting resumes that were pure nonsense.

Now:  Today’s ATS use a much more sophisticated algorithm than those of the past, but they continue to evolve.  Though it is reported that over 90% of companies use ATS to search for candidates, many highly qualified candidates slip through the cracks due to not using specific verbiage and/or keywords, or because of simple formatting errors.

The Future:  ATS aren’t going away anytime soon, so if you’re actively job searching, learn how they work and stay up-to-date on the trends. Though ATS will continue to evolve, networking always has been and always will be the #1 job search strategy.


bttf_thumb4Then:  Though the origins of recruitment date back to 550 BC, modern recruiting efforts began during WWII when there was a void in the workplace left by those called to duty. Employment agencies began advertising for workers, and headhunters soon followed in response to the influx of workers returning home. Recruiters had to physically sift through resumes and then called candidates to invite them in for an interview (imagine!).

Now:  Few recruiters today even touch paper resumes; they locate candidates via online profiles and databases using keyword searches, and read resumes online. However, while computers have greatly increased the ability to find skilled candidates, they’ve not been useful in locating candidates with a good personality/character matches (quite understandable, given that these attributes are subjective measures). Therefore, the in-person interview is still what determines the so-called “culture fit.”

We’re also seeing many people applying for just a few positions, as well as an increase in hiring, now that The Great Recession is over. Unfortunately, this has resulted in some “rusty” recruiting techniques, including outdated strategies, lack of resources, and a shortage of effective recruiters.

The Future:  “Big data” is going to become more and more integrated into the recruiting process. Predictions will be made on a candidate’s culture fit based on their digital footprints (social media activity, emails, purchases, where their calls were made, etc.). Big data will predict whether a candidate would be interested in a potential position, screen out candidates whose personalities don’t mesh with the culture – even predict whether a potential hire could be a security risk.

Mobile technology will also affect future recruiting efforts. Considering that people spend more than 5 hours each week watching videos on their mobile devices, it’s only a matter of time before virtual interviewing becomes the norm. We’re already seeing job seekers and recruiters communicating via text and using the social web to communicate, but recruiting is entering a new challenging phase – one that will require recruiters to develop relationships with talent pools, as well as better understand the motivations of job seekers.

Finally, employee referrals have long been attributed to loads of benefits:  lower cost, quicker hires, quality hires, better performance, and greater retention. It’s no surprise that they account for 40% of all hires. Becoming an employee referral immediately boosts the chances of landing a job, and can also be a financial incentive for the referrer.

Bottom Line:

As a job seeker, in the present and in the future, you’ll boost your chances of landing a job if

  • You don’t rely on online mega job boards
  • You keep an active network
  • You’re a referral
  • You use mobile technology and social media

Bring Your Career Back To The Future – Good luck!

Visit the Official Back To The Future web site, Facebook page and Twitter account!