The evolution of the job application process


I have worked my whole life and recently was out of a job – a very unnatural state for me. I got my first job at the age of 13 – you guessed it – delivering newspapers! That was back in the 80’s. I had two paper routes with the Montreal Gazette and made $100 a month. I got the job through my brother who also had a paper route and who introduced me to the route supervisor. When I turned 16, I wanted to get a job that paid more – at least minimum wage. Back then, the best way to find a job was to hit the pavement. Just like a game of hopscotch, I hopped from door to door of the businesses on my street filling out application forms, whether they had “help wanted” signs or not. I got my first job at the store I visited regularly as a customer – only because they knew me as a customer did they hire me (I had no relevant experience). Looking for a job back in the 80’s was a lot of leg work – in the literal meaning. Going door to door on foot, by bus, by metro and presenting yourself in person trying to act professional.

The job seeking process has evolved indeed where all this “leg work” can now be done from the comforts of your desk or palms of your hands thanks to computers and mobile devices using social media. Application forms today can be filled out & sent out quickly making it easier to apply to a multitude of jobs every day. Networking has always existed – like when my brother introduced me to the paper route supervisor and when the owner hired me based on simply knowing me as one of his customers. In this day and age, networking can be done so efficiently and presented professionally via social networks like LinkedIn or Facebook – hence permitting an exponential amount of contacts and references and I think upping your chances of getting a job. Or maybe not. Is it just me or is the competition fierce? The personal touch of applying for jobs in person has disappeared. Do you think presenting yourself in person – the old fashioned way – makes a greater impact compared to presenting an electronic profile to market yourself? It certainly increases the amount of applications employers receive hence increases the competition.


But I have to admit, today’s job search process is so much broader – there are so may more possibilities now. When you consider the extent of use of social media, it’s amazing what it has to offer: you can apply from anywhere anytime, work from any city, prepare for an interview by watching YouTube or reading blogs, interview over video like Skype, and more.


Do you think there’s more “leg work” involved in “selling yourself” by applying for jobs the old fashioned way or in today’s social media world?


3 thoughts on “The evolution of the job application process

  1. I can vouch for the idea that introducing yourself in person has lost its touch, to a certain extent.

    There have been times when I thought I was taking the extra mile to apply to a job in person, only to be sent home with a link to the company’s website. In order to stay on task and stay organized, many companies are shifting to strictly online job applications. This way, they are not interrupted from their day to day tasks and all the resumes are sure to be in one place and less likely to be lost.

    On the other hand, I landed my last job by going into the shop in person. I handed in my resume at the front desk and was told that the managers would be in the next day, so I could expect to hear from them then. I heard nothing back for a few days, so I went into the shop and it turns out the managers were having their last round of interviews that day and they invited me back later that afternoon for an interview. Keep in mind, this is also a company that encourages people to apply online.

    I think that, in this day and age, the place to start when applying for jobs is online. This is where a lot of networking happens and it’s important to keep up with that to stay relevant. However, as a way of following up, speeding up the process, and simply being able to give the managers a face to a name, introducing yourself in person is not a bad idea. Introducing yourself in person also shows your interest in the position and helps you stand out since less people are doing it.

    Thanks for your post!

  2. Thank you for the very interesting post. We’ve had to hire for a few positions where I work in the last few months and due to the nature of our environment (post secondary institution), the face to face aspect of the process still plays a very big role in our process. We actually get some free publicity as we deal with student’s on a daily basis and we’ve found out that a lot of our applicants end up trying to get jobs with us because of their exposure to us coming in to use our services or as a result of volunteering for us in the past.

    For us, we do hire based on experience to a degree, but we value as much exposure as we can for each applicant so that we can try to find the right “fit” for our office environment. While we do accept resumes to be emailed in, we ensure that anybody coming in has a short conversation with our receptionist when dropping off their resume or prior to an interview. She is included in the review process so that conversation factors in just as much as the official interview.

    This was the process in place before I was hired and I was told afterwards that the way I treated her was a mark in my favor when it came time to review each of the applicants. While I don’t think this is necessarily the norm in today’s world, I’m glad it is at my place of work and it is one of the many reasons that it’s been a great fit for me (and hopefully them).

    I think in the long run, it definitely is worthwhile to do some looking into the types of places you’re applying and to see what they value and to tailor your approach to what you find. I’ve been through places that prefer online to in person and vice versa, places that interviewed everybody or just a short list to places that conducted tests in place of interviews to narrow down the list of applicants. Which means it certainly helps to be comfortable in a wide variety of settings when trying to land that next job.

    Good luck going forward!

  3. I think it’s much harder now to find jobs these days. There is so much more competition, and regardless of how many years of experience you have, hiring manager seem to favour the candidate who has fewer years of experience with a degree in the area of the position over the candidate who has a combination of a somewhat relevant education and many years of experience doing the job being advertised.

    There are definitely a lot of resources out there to aid in the search. However, I have applied to jobs where the job description matches my skills exactly, my resume is tailored as closely as possible (but not too closely) for the position, and nothing. At least meeting face-to-face and networking allows one to put a live person to the application, rather than a PDF in the ether where it’s very easy as a hiring manager to become overly picky.

    It’s a very frustrating process and I wish you much luck with your search!

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