Why Is It So Hard to Find a Job? The 2 Culprits

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Startup of You" by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why is it so hard to find a job these days? How has technology affected the modern workforce?

It used to be fairly simple to get a job, build a career, and then retire with little to no issues. But nowadays, it can be difficult just to find an entry-level job, even if you have the experience and education for it. It’s because of two reasons: technology and globalization.

Below we’ll look at why job-searching is a tough chore to get through, and how you can build a career today.

The Modern Professional World: All Careers Are Like Startups

In The Startup of You, Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha argue that the work world has changed: Half a century ago, as long as you worked hard, you ascended the career ladder and then retired. So why is it so hard to find a job today? Job stability is all but gone and all careers are now like startups, or brand new companies built from the ground up.

(Shortform note: In Thank You For Being Late, Thomas Friedman explains why not only the work world but the entire world feels more unstable in the 21st century than in the 20th century: Change is happening at a faster rate than ever before. He explains that humans generally need about 10 to 15 years to adapt to societal and technological change. During the 1900s, it took over 20 years for inventions and technological progress to make the world look different. Since 2016, however, the world feels noticeably different after only five to seven years—a faster rate than we can keep up with.)

Technology, Globalization, and the End of Traditional Career Development

How did these changes to the professional landscape come about? According to the authors, technology and globalization have turned the work world from one defined by stability and streamlined careers to one defined by constant flux and competition.

First, technology has led to the automation of more and more industries, which has rendered entire career paths obsolete. Hoffman and Casnocha argue that while technology also leads to new jobs, it displaces more jobs than it creates. Additionally, these new jobs often require people to invest more time and education to learn different and more advanced skills.

Second, technology has led to globalization—people can hire and collaborate professionally with others all across the world. We now have far more competitors than ever before, competitors who often already possess the qualifications to do the jobs we want and are willing to do them for less pay. As a result, employers no longer invest money and time into your career development but expect you to train yourself or to learn quickly. 

In short, the ready access to a global pool of candidates has eroded the traditional loyalty between an employer and their employees. In this new era of work, instead of staying at one company for the greater part of their careers, people are now changing jobs more frequently or working multiple jobs.

The Shift Toward Careers as Startups and the Startup Mindset

The authors argue that because of these changes in modern work, you deal with many of the same conditions and challenges that startup founders face: limited time and resources, fierce competition over opportunities, and constant risk and uncertainty. Startup lifespans are often short, and similarly, people are staying at companies for shorter periods. Successful startups are aggressive and adaptive no matter how much they expand.

To thrive in the job market, therefore, you must treat your career like a startup by adopting a startup mindset. The authors write that a startup mindset is founded on the idea of constant growth. Because career paths are no longer straightforward, you must always treat yours as “in development.” To do this, make improvement a permanent goal by always seeking to expand your skills and finding new ways to use your knowledge. When you prioritize skill-building and improvement, you’ll be able to pivot to different career paths with ease and success if better opportunities come along.

A startup mindset is crucial to succeeding in the uncertain and ever-changing conditions of the job market and economy. It allows you to keep pace with the fast-changing professional landscape and to act swiftly on new opportunities so that you can excel in the global economy.

Why Is It So Hard to Find a Job? The 2 Culprits

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Startup of You summary:

  • Why you must approach your career as if it's a startup company
  • How to overcome unexpected career obstacles
  • The three entrepreneurship principles you should adopt

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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