Editor’s note: In the Internet age, sometimes the job finds you

August 4, 2013

Back when Capital Business was just a gleam in the eye, I was handed the task of assembling a team.

I put the word out through all the usual channels and received a flood of résumés. So many, in fact, that I briefly considered setting up a special e-mail account to keep the volume from overwhelming my regular inbox.

That was my first real taste of what it is like to hunt for jobs in the Internet age. The last time I was seriously in the market, there was no way to spam — err, distribute — your résuméelectronically to potential employers, far and wide. I could appreciate the convenience of this brave new world, of course, but wondered if I was just some old fuddy-duddy in feeling overrun by the process.

Turns out I’m hardly alone. Lots of executives struggle with finding talent. Some turn the task over to a professional recruiter, which is kind of ironic when you think about it. We set up these online systems to make it easier for people to apply, then have to hire humans to locate the people we really want.

As it happened, most of the people I hired came by way of recommendations or previous connections. Many were not necessarily looking to sign on with a new newspaper. They were so-called “passive job seekers,” gainfully employed elsewhere. Luckily for us, several needed only a nudge to consider whether the pasture might be greener on our side of the fence.

Every employer has its own approach. More often than not, though, I hear people mention they had some success with LinkedIn, the subject of this week’s cover story.

As staff writer Sarah Halzack points out, some employers like the way the site allows them to take control of the process and seek out candidates, instead of the reverse.

That surprised me at first, because some of the so-called passive job seekers I know tell me they visit the site infrequently, if at all. “I don’t have time for another social network,” one friend sighed.

Perhaps that doesn’t matter. In the Internet age, sometimes the job finds you.

Dan Beyers is the founding editor of Capital Business, The Washington Post’s go-to source for news about the region’s business community.
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