Q. I’m 48 and looking for a new job. There’s so much being said about our needing to know our “personal brand” as well as using social networks to get a job. Is this truly necessary? How has the job search process changed, and what do I need to do now that I didn’t before?

A. The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Today, the job search process is a radically different endeavor from what it was 10 years ago, when you could call a recruiter in your field and have a few interviews lined up within the week. The landscape has changed in a number of vitally important ways: 1) generally speaking, there are far fewer jobs available in your field than there were 8 years ago, 2) if you’re over 50, it’s even tougher to land a great job than if you’re under 40, 3) the overall lack of job openings means hiring managers can hold out for candidates who are a near ideal fit, 4) if you’ve been out of full-time work for over 2 years, you’ll need to explore part-time and consulting work as well as a full-time position, and 5) with the glut of new technology tools for hiring managers (LinkedIn, Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com), it’s more than ever about “who you know and who knows about you” that will differentiate you in the competitive drive to landing a great job.