While we’re nearing the middle of January, and I realize I can only beat the “shake up your routine in the new year” theme for so long, I did want to share a little more food for thought about “change” that I thought might be beneficial as we continue hurtling headlong into 2012.

For starters, if you haven’t seen this video previously, I’d highly recommend you click here to watch a short comedy clip from a few years back, featuring comedian Louis CK on the Conan O’Brien show.  In this  segment, Louis riffs around the observation that “everything’s amazing today, but nobody’s happy” and makes some hysterically insightful observations about how society tends to deal with change (and if you’re familiar with this comic’s usual work, which can get pretty raunchy, rest assured that this clip was on network television and is totally clean.)

Secondly, in a recent networking group I facilitated, I was trying to emphasize the concept of dealing with change and challenged the audience to come up with a list of things that we’ve all become used to, over the years, but that are now “going away” and becoming obsolete.

Here’s the list we came up with:

Rotary phones, landlines, newspapers, printed books, hand-cranked car windows, travel agents, encyclopedias, paper maps, television test patterns, contact lenses (due to lasik surgery), yellow pages, cursive writing, netbooks, CDs, and DVDs.

Then, of course, somebody mentioned “free crossings on the 520 bridge” which all of us here in Seattle can commiserate around.  And lastly, somebody (impressively up on their current events) pointed out that the Hostess company has just recently filed bankruptcy, so we might need to add “wonder bread” and “twinkies” to the endangered species list!

It was a fun exercise, at the very least, and really put into perspective the fact that we’ve all had to adapt to ongoing change — good or bad — throughout the entire arc of our lives.

When we shifted the conversation in a more serious direction, however, the next exercise dealt with a subject that’s more aligned with the mission of this blog.  I asked the audience to brainstorm things that had significantly changed about the job market in the last 10-15 years.  Or about careers, in general.  The list they came up with is a very important one, since I believe it underscores that there are “new rules of the game” today and that anybody who hasn’t had to look for work in a while is going to be a fish out of water, so to speak, if they think finding a job in 2011 is done the same way it used to be.

Here’s the list that we put together, as a group, about the new dynamics involved in finding and keeping employment:

•  Job hunting takes longer, on average, than it used to
•  Job tenures today tend to be shorter
•  There are less full-time roles and more contract and part-time work
•  The concept of “loyalty” has eroded on both sides
•  Resumes today often have to go through computer scanners
•  There is new terminology in use (talent acquisition vs. recruiting, etc.)
•  Outsourcing/globalization have increased compeition for jobs
•  One’s reputation and “skeletons” are more visible, due to social media
•  Researching companies is now easier than ever before
•  There are lots of “junk” applications out there clogging things up
•  Companies are more cautious and interviewing takes longer
•  Employers use assessment testing more to evaluate candidates
•  Deeper background checks are run on applicants
•  Phone interviews are used more in lieu of face-to-face conversations
•  Applicants receive less interview feedback, due to legal concerns
•  Panel and loop interviews are more common to save companies time
•  The experience is more depersonalized; courtesy is a thing of the past
•  Job descriptions have become a lot more rigid and specialized
•  There’s an increased requirement for formal training and education
•  Different marketing methods (social media) now exist to find leads
•  Published ads are now found entirely online
•  Companies now often pay incentives for internal employee referrals
•  Salaries, benefits, and compensation perks have declined

Not a very uplifting list, I realize, but that wasn’t the point.  The idea was to try and pin down “what is” versus “what was” or “how we wish things would be” in the job market, so that we can all understand, learn, and adapt to these new realities.  What other choice have we?

Additionally, I lobbied hard around the idea that MANY of the above observations may reflect cyclical changes in the job market, versus permanent ones.  For example, while there definitely might be some salary deflation going on these past few years, it wasn’t that long ago (can you say 1998, everybody?) when companies were paying obscene amounts of money for people with little to no on-the-job experience — aka the whole dot-com boom.  So let’s be careful about assuming all of these frustrating dynamics are going to be with us for the rest of our lives.  Many of them are likely just a short-term consequence of the financial fiasco of 2008 and the resulting recession.

At any rate, this is probably going to be “part one” of a two-series post.  I wanted to first share some of the raw data this group and I came up with regarding the concept of change in the job market — and soon, I’ll be posting another article talking about the solutions/advice we came up with for helping people ADAPT SUCCESSFULLY to these new realities!

Stay tuned — and as always, chime in with your thoughts, additions, and observations on the topic at hand!