Unintended consequences can be an amazing, interesting, and frustrating thing, especially when they are technology enabled.  Isn’t technology supposed to make life easier?

Nowhere is this truer than in job hunting today.  The Internet has enabled job hunters to research, filter, sort, apply for, and track job opportunities better than at any time in the past.  Nevertheless, the very nature of the online experience has created some unintended consequences.

Chris Farrell writes in Bloomberg Businessweek on this conundrum (“It’s Not What Grads Know, It’s Who They Know” pp. 9–10):

“Technology has had a somewhat perverse effect on job-hunting.  The barriers to applying for work have fallen sharply; Once a resume is created, job seekers can submit hundreds of applications online with zero or minimal extra cost.  The problem is that companies have responded with crude filtering devices, so many of those resumes remain unread.” (p. 9)

How did we get here from there?

This situation reinforces the importance of networking, whether in person or online.  Although you must learn how to play the online game to maximize your exposure, you must never underestimate networking’s power.  In many ways today, who you know truly can be more important than what you know.

Simultaneously, perhaps employers will learn to relax their settings a bit when filtering online applications.  Let’s face it: you can’t always obtain the “perfect” person for the job.  Perhaps the candidate with “too much” experience in an unrelated field may be just the sort of person who brings insights to the job that significantly enhance the company’s ROI.  Sometimes having the candidate with a degree in a slightly different field adds value in broader ways, unforeseen at the time of hire.  Now there are some productive unintended consequences!

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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