looking for work in a digital world: is technology helpful or overwhelming?

The way Canadians look for work has changed dramatically over the last couple decades. The internet has revolutionized the way we interact with one another, and that includes how we make professional connections and find jobs. Once upon a time, Canadians used to turn to their networks to find a job. Who you knew was as important as what you knew. Today, the internet has made it possible to connect with just about anyone with the click of a button. 

Today’s digital natives think nothing of grabbing their smartphone to research companies or find and apply for jobs.  While few deny that the internet puts a virtual cornucopia of jobs at your fingertips, many job seekers come away from an online job search feeling like something’s missing. While there are plenty of options, the sheer volume can be a problem itself. Standing out from the pack of hundreds or even thousands of applicants feels like an uphill battle.

ipsos survey finding jobs technology

where we search for work online

Unsurprisingly many job seekers say job boards are their first destination when looking for work. Though a large number of job seekers agreed they turned to job boards first, many agreed that applying to jobs on job boards was impersonal. Top online destinations for finding a job: 

  • 28% of job seekers said they look for work on job boards (i.e. Indeed, Monster) first
  • 15% said they use a job search website geared to their field
  • 14% said they tap into their professional network

mobile job searches are on the rise

Almost half of job seekers (45%) say they use their smartphone as a part of their job search process. Among respondents who said they used their smartphone to find work:

  • 39% said they browse job posts
  • 15% said they research companies
  • 12% said they make professional connections
  • 8% said they apply to jobs

technology can be overwhelming

When it comes to looking for work online, many job seekers feel there’s something missing. To anyone who’s ever applied to a job online that probably comes as no surprise. Respondents almost universally agreed that online job applications are impersonal. Some stats:

  • 41% said the number of options and tools available is overwhelming
  • 88% said they would prefer a more personalized approach to job hunting
  • 77% said they would welcome assistance from someone who knows their industry
  • 35% said they are not confident in their ability to quickly find a job online

managers struggle to find talent, too

One-third of the managers interviewed said they weren’t confident they could quickly find new talent, without outside help. 41% said their organization had trouble building an employer brand that is attractive to Millennials and Gen Z. That’s particularly alarming, as these two generations currently make up a significant part of the Canadian workforce. Millennials are the single largest working generation, making up 35% of the workforce, more than either Baby Boomers or Gen X. The oldest Gen Zers (aged 5 to 19) are just beginning to enter the workplace and make their influence known.

Both employees and managers agreed: the internet makes it easier to search for jobs and connect with talent. However, they also acknowledge that they’re struggling. Employees, in particular, recounted the difficulties they face when searching for a job online. Many employees admitted it’s more difficult for them to find a job now than it was at the beginning of their career. The majority also agreed that it’s difficult to stand out from the crowd online. Half of managers said the same about finding strong candidates among the volume of job applications.

managers still trust their personal networks 

Managers are reluctant to give up on their personal networks when it comes to hiring new talent. 37% said they use their personal networks when looking to hire. That number has slipped 4% since the beginning of their careers. 18% of managers said they use recruiters or staffing agencies to find new hires, up 5% since the beginning of their careers. This perhaps indicates a growing reliance on experts to cut through the noise and sheer number of options to find talent online. When asked how they prefer to find new hires, managers’ personal networks just barely edged out the competition: 

  • 20% of managers said they prefer using their personal network to make hires
  • 19% said they prefer to post jobs on job boards
  • 8% said they prefer to use recruiters or staffing agencies

where are we headed next?

Most working Canadians agree: the future holds some big changes for the world of work. The vast majority of respondents believe technology and the function of workers will shift our workplaces dramatically within the next 5 years.

  • 88% of respondents think we’ll communicate mostly by digital means, less in person
  • 85% think the divide between workplaces and home will become more blurred
  • 84% believe open workspaces will dominate, to facilitate stronger collaboration
  • 83% believe there will be fewer permanent, full-time employees and more part-time, contract workers in their place
  • 81% believe that artificial intelligence will be intertwined with workplace process

Given these predictions and the increased reliance on technology that’s behind many of them, a certain amount of pushback seems inevitable. The majority Canadians (64% of employees and 73% of managers) agreed that there’s a need for a one-on-one, technology-free approach in the workplace.

infusing a human touch into tech

It’s impossible to write off the impact of technology in our day-to-day work lives. However, a lot of the things technology has helped us achieve are positive. With technology, we can automate tedious or repetitive tasks, communicate with coworkers across the globe, or access millions of files from any device, anywhere in the world. All of these things have a mostly positive impact on our working lives.

To make technology work for us, we must ensure that it’s used as a tool to facilitate human connections, rather than replace them. That’s our human forward promise in a nutshell. In a world ruled by technology, it’s the human connections that continue to matter most. Real connections aren’t made from data and algorithms; they’re made by people. At Randstad, we strive to use technology as a facilitator to make building human relationships easier. That’s how we’ll drive working relationships forward. Human forward. 

about the author

Kristen Smalley - Content Manager

As someone who firmly believes that variety is the spice of life, content marketing has been a natural career path for me. Every day brings a chance to think creatively and learn about exciting new topics. Whether it's tackling content on employment trends, how to handle tough interview questions, or keeping safe in the workplace, there are always interesting topics waiting to be explored in the world of work!

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