Otis, are we the same person?
I completely agree - some of this gets chalked up to the new generation (what are the current 20-something's called now?) which was a thread unto itself
in the end, I know we talk about your resume, your cover, etc etc. but my first job out of school was literally pounding the pavement - it was high 80's and times were hot and cookin' and after going to about a dozen firms, one picked me up that needed help and a draftsperson I became (that's how long ago it was, ) - the point is, it was pure luck - the only reason I stood out was I was young, willing to work and had basic drafting skills and they were busy
other private sector work came by recruitment, I got pulled and transferred around where was billable work - once you get into the system and you are good at what you do, they all call each other (it's a small world in Boston) and would say, hey, I am low on billables but i have this person who can do this and this, you got any work for her and off I'd go - it shows a checkered resume on my LinkedIn account but I loved every opportunity I had
when I got my first planning ob in the public sector, the only reason I got it was connections - I had been out of work on medical/maternity issues for a year and I was out of the professional network, forgot how to talk right even - the only reason I know I got that job was I called in a chip I had of someone I knew that knew the Director personally - otherwise I know I never would have got that job
the next municipal position and the one I have now were from head-hunters who contacted me
so it's luck, connections that gets you in the door and then yes, interviewing well and having a decent professional past also helps