With the unemployment rate at 9.4 percent and ticking up, millions of Americans are in the job market for the first time in several years.
But the job market has changed in that short time. The paper resume is laughably passe, at least in some circles. Not having a profile on the social networking site LinkedIn is, for some employers, not only a major liability but a sign that the candidate is horribly out of touch.
"If someone sends us a paper resume folded in thirds, stuffed in an envelope, it's hard to take it seriously," says Glenn Kelman, chief executive of Redfin, an online real estate brokerage.
Kelman says he has friends in their 30s and 40s who just missed the social networking boat and now need coaching in how things have changed.
For example, he says blogs and Facebook pages have gone from mere kids' play to essential for communicating with employers online. Someone applying for a job in marketing, for example, will do much better in an interview if he or she already commands an audience through a blog. People in sales look better if they can prove they have a broad network of contacts in their field.
These new rules especially hold true in the high-tech fields, where being up to the minute is considered essential. But even other industries are following suit.
Job applicants are required to submit their resumes digitally at UMB Financial, a bank based in Kansas City, Mo.
"We get very few paper resumes," says Pat Cassady, the director of recruitment at UMB. Cassady says 10 to 12 percent of UMB hires come through LinkedIn, and she searches niche networking sites for active users who might be promising business leaders. She is even planning to use Twitter to reach out to new recruits.