So, where do you like to skydive?... and other questions you'll find in the Next Generation Job Interview

BlogHer Original Post

"We eat our own dog food," was the rather apropos statement of Jobster CEO Jason Goldberg. He was explaining on the Chris Pirillo Show how the company uses its own job listing service to find top talent, but I thought it applied to Jason's blog philosophy as well.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Jobster, think next generation job search--Linked-In meets service that matches you with jobs based not only by geography, experience level and salary requirements, but also by areas of passion and by social/professional circle. It takes the desperation out of job search, connecting recruiters and candidates even before there's an open position. It gets conversations started, rather than forcing them.

And Jason backs the philosophy behind his blog by writing content--himself, for starters--about people who love what they do, and that extracts the lessons learned by people who are at the top of their career trajectories.

This sort of approach is long overdue. Even with job search migrating online, recuiters and job applicants still met via arranged marriages: right experience, check; right experience level, check...But this is more organic, a continuation of blogging's function of connecting people of like interest and values.

Even in the most desperate of employment crises I stayed away from the usual job database suspects. I saw that job searching was shifting--you no longer looked for work in the Want Ads, and you didn't rely on search firms to do all the walking. But these services only helped a specific type of person--the Perfect Person. For people with very traditional careers--who never left in a huff, who never took a job outside their industry, who never got bored stiff putting in their 20 years at ACME corporation, these engines worked like a charm. They provided employers with candidates with predictable performance or people who looked great on paper, but they couldn't put in a good word for those of us who didn't match the job req to a tee.

I always wondered when reviewing the requirements in these jobs what perfect being actually fit these descriptions. Creative as I was I could never shoehorn myself to fit into any of them. It got easier when Craigslist became popular, and the job listings a bit more open-ended. Companies began looking for "self-starters" and anyone who didn't mind payment in equity, but then you had the challenge of competing with 300 other applicants who also saw themselves as a perfect fit.

Fact is, companies are finding fewer and fewer textbook candidates. More people have a few noticeable months missing from their CVs for time they took off to travel, or abrupt shifts like in my resume, when I left media to explore executive development, or when I decided to freelance.

Career paths are like fingerprints--unique for each individual, and recruiters have had to become more flexible, looking not only at the facts on a resume, but at the experiences, unorthodox skillsets (such as ability to crank out code AND answer the phone simultaneously) and signs of passion that lurk between the lines. They have to look beyond job titles and tenures and corporate pedigree and look instead at what lies beneath, behind the personality you are served in a job interview.

I'm not suggesting that recruiters become clairvoyants; I'm suggesting that they use social media to allow insights into the unique skills and interests of people they take on. I described this in another blog post of mine as searching for "pre-motivated" people by reading their blogs, connecting with them in Web communities, seeing them in a spherical light, not uncomfortably pressed into an 8"x11" sheet of paper.

The appeal of Jobster is that it takes the whole person into consideration. It also allows for organic selection, based on true interest, not on overdue rent.

"A career isn't something you choose; it's something you create," says the Jobster company site. This alone puts this site head and shoulders above the other job search sites. It fits with the way careers are being shaped today.

What do I mean? I've been doing a lot of thinking about this, in preparation for a keynote I'm giving at a conference for college women seeking entrepreneurial careers. While researching for this keynote, I found some brilliant insights from a Fast Company article by Danielle Sacks on the preferences of the Gen Y workforce, and a piece from Inc. Magazine on the female Gen X defection from the workplace. Despite the fact that Gen X women are reaching the zenith period in their careers, only 53% of working-age women are opting to work. Granted, Gen Xers make up the smallest number of workers, compared to our Boomer and Gen Y counterparts, but a study shows that we Xers looking for a little extra something in our work--learning opps, not just money making opportunities, and more personal satisfaction with our work. Hence, we get married, we get pregnant, and we decide to blow the popsicle stands we work at, hoping to return to something more meaningful later. Something less...icy. Some of us never return, and the corporate world makes sure we don't. They pay us less and demote us when we try.

The Gen Y folks are getting it right the first time. They aren't giving it up to their jobs, but rather getting what they need from each gig they commit to, without committing fully. They aren't afraid to jump around, or even eschew the entry level job and start their own company right out of college. They don't see the point of busy work, which is what I thought I had to do for 10 years in order to deserve high-paying, high-satisfaction work.

If you are an employer and don't like the sound of this, get used to it. Like I said, Gen Y far outnumbers the Xers, and Boomers who have opted to stay in the workforce are finally starting to question why they are putting up with unfulfilling work. Recruiters will have to hire based on something other than sparkling resume, decent appearance and interview skills.

So start hitting MySpace now--you never know what gems are hidden within.


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