Online Learning and Job Hunting — From the Perspective of a “Digital Immigrant” – Part 2

By Alan Vitello - June 20th, 2018

hiring interview

In this two-part blog post series, CSU Global student and self-proclaimed “digital immigrant” Alan Vitello recalls his experiences with adapting to online learning and looking for a job — for his first time in 30 years — but now in the digital landscape.

In Part 2, Alan details his experience with applying for jobs — for the first time in 30 years. But this time online.

It’s one thing to use these new technologies and new capabilities for class assignments, where  the “real world” stakes are relatively low (other than my GPA or my ability to receive tuition reimbursement); it’s another thing when you have to start applying the new things you’ve learned to the job hunt!

If you’ve read my last post, you know that I retired after 30 years from my previous employer, in late 2016. I have spent the last year finishing up my CSU Global degree, and attending a local community college at the same time, to learn more new communications technologies and skills.

Late last fall – for the first time in over 30 years – I began to dip my toe into the job-hunt waters. The last time I applied for a job, I filled out a paper application, took a short typing test, and had a 10-minute interview. Then, I was hired by the phone company. Easy peasy!

professionals talkings

Suddenly, I was confronted with the huge task of writing a resume. As strange as it may seem, I’ve never needed a resume before. Thirty years with one company…well…not much need for that. Along with that, I learned that human eyes are rarely the first thing to look at this sacred document. So, you have to learn the “the secret vocabulary” of dynamic action words that will help your resume pass through the analytical software that weeds out all the resumes missing the secret vocabulary.

Couple that with the fact that this magic document, once created, will then be shared with the world via Indeed and Glassdoor and LinkedIn (and a host of other job-hunting websites). This is one area of our technologically driven world that has made me feel very anxious.

Is any actual live human being really seeing me? So far, job hunting in 2018 seems a lot like some kind of “swipe right/swipe left” dating app. Sometimes I feel like I’m only a “profile.” It’s hard to know or sense or feel when an actual connection is, or will be, made. At times, I would like to just walk into that old employment office and fill out an application.

As daunting, frustrating, and anonymous as this can feel, on any given day, if I am to succeed in this heroic quest of mine, I remind myself that I can meet this challenge. Like Tom Petty once sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.”

At some point, I suspect soon after I complete my degree program, and a new employer “swipes” my “profile” in whichever direction is the positive one (right? left?), there will be a new position for me. This is where the technological stakes are going to be the highest. In this fast-paced world, your employer expects you to hit the ground running. Am I familiar enough with the Adobe Creative Cloud? Microsoft Office 365? Salesforce? SEO? Google Analytics? If not, well, there’s not gonna be an eight-week training class, like we used to have – in the “Old Days” – at the phone company.

This is where, in the “digital native” and “digital immigrant” narrative, the rubber meets the road. I will be competing with, employed by, and working alongside, with, and for “natives,” who know and are very comfortable with these platforms.

There won’t be any time spent waiting for “Gramps” to catch up. That’s okay. That’s why I took the leap. That’s why I made the decision to retire and find a new direction. I wasn’t going to let myself turn into a stalagmite, growing slowly up from the floor, at my old desk.

I recently came upon a great quote from famed writer Ray Bradbury that has inspired me tremendously:

“First you jump off the cliff, then you build your wings on the way down.” Well, I am building those wings!


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