Career Recruitment — 27 September 2012
Is an offline approach to the online job hunt possible?

‘Seek and you shall find’, says one ubiquitous job site. It’s true, to an extent; punch a few keywords into the little white box, and you most likely will find a job that ticks those other boxes: the perfect title, the ideal location, a great salary, and status to boot. Your next job, found! Easy eh?

Not quite; finding the job is the easy part. The part that follows – crafting that cover letter, tweaking the résumé, doing the hard yards in terms of researching the business in question, preparing for interview (if you get that far) and then sitting through the interview without putting your foot in it — is far harder.

Today, the process we follow to land a new job — or at least every part of that process bar the interview — is one carried out almost entirely online. Ask anyone who searched for a job just 15 years ago, however, and you’ll be hear an amazing — almost unbelievable — story about a time when finding a new job was all about pounding the pavement or working the phones; hiding behind the computer screen was simply not an option.

There were no job websites. No, ‘old timers’ will regale you with tales of scanning the newspapers for roles, or of hearing through a friend of a friend that an opportunity existed. They’ll tell you instances of ringing through to said company and actually getting through to the hiring manager him/herself (as opposed to some internal talent acquisition team), with whom they would be provided some additional role information.

These ‘dinosaurs’ will tell you instances of applications being stamped and actually posted (or perhaps faxed), of land line contact numbers (or, for the elite, brick-like mobile phones), and offer letters arriving in the letterbox.

Sound unfamiliar? For many of us who have grown up online, it sounds almost alien. But in a 21st century market where differentiating oneself is getting harder and harder, would such an approach to job hunting — one that sought to minimise the use of impersonal online channels, and instead focused on more personal, even ‘old fashioned’ approaches — work?

It’s doubtful, to be honest. For many companies, it’s the online way or the proverbial highway. From application, to receipt of application, to notification of interview, it seems everything is done via email , through a website of some sort or through social media.

While nothing would differentiate you from the crowd more than sending in a hand-written cover letter, it’s unfortunate that in all but the most creative of workplaces, such a move would be seen as eccentric, or in a professional services environment, just plain wacky.

But what about another, bold, approach? What if you walked into a business and asked to speak to someone about an advertised role? What would they say? Would you even get past the receptionist, or would you instead be told to email so-and-so, or go to a Careers website and apply online? It’s a damning indictment on the state of our world when such face-to-face approaches, or even those made via telephone, are not rewarded.

What do you think? Are there other ways to find jobs these days than on the internet? Or are the suggestions above simply out of touch with the realities of the 21st century? Is the job hunt now an inescapable, online experience?

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(5) Readers Comments

  1. Hi Tim, Excellent post. I really believe that an offline approach is no longer valid. My advice or suggestion to applicants is focus on what you can do before the application. It is your achievements in your current role and experience that will make you stand out from the masses in the online application space, not how you apply for a role.

  2. I am a corporate recruiter with a number of years background in recruitment.
    It is true that on-line is the dominant way of doing things, – but that should not exclude off-line. When job seeking I would argue that any possible methodology on-line/Off-line should/can be applied and as long as not breaking any laws and being ethical, – anything goes. It is easy and (we) all fall for carrying out all our lives on-line, – however nothing works better than actually making things personal, to step outside the norm, to try new avenues and to do whatever one possibly can in making something happen. I have applied it myself in own job search and seen numerous examples of it, and the more one tries, the harder one tries, the more methodologies and boundary/norm breaking ways things are tried, – the more/bigger chance of possible success.

  3. While the online job hunting is very in fashion & widespread, I personally have taken another step by visiting the potential employer (while the job was still announced for hiring), just stating my ongoing interest and putting a face in an on line resume! I think it gave the edge nobody expected!

  4. Thanks for your comments guys; seems like there’s some strong opinions either way. Like most things, individual circumstance plays a part. I’m of the opinion a bold approach CAN pay off, though!

  5. I can still see a use for delivered job applications, but in an entirely different format. Especially in marketing and design. If you want to stand out, you have to think outside the square. As a past hiring manager, someone who would send me a their resume on a flash disk in a balloon, or some other product that is appropriate for the company where the position is available would more likely get my attention over thousands of email applications.

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