John Sullivan, a highly regarded human resources thought leader, recently gave job seekers reason for pessimism when he took a look at recruiting by the numbers. His point was that the odds of landing a job are against most of us. For example, a typical job board posting will be seen by an average of 1,000 viewers. Of those, 200 will start the application process; 100 will actually apply; 75 get screened out; 25 resumes are seen by the hiring manager; 4-6 applicants are interviewed; and 1 person is finally hired. Further, 50% of hires end in failures. That is, they either quit or are terminated within a year.
Sullivan is essentially correct. One in a thousand or even 200 (depending on how you want to do the math) is pretty long odds. Don’t despair.
Here are 5 things you can do to tip the odds in your favor:
- Start with positions for which you are reasonably qualified. THEN GO AHEAD AND APPLY. Instead, far too many job seekers use a scatter-gun approach to the job market. For them, any job opening is reason for optimism and an opportunity for luck to weave its magic spell—a noble approach perhaps but not very smart. It is akin to playing the lottery. It is also a waste of time and a major contributor to negative odds.
- For those positions for which you are reasonably qualified, develop a detailed understanding of what is of importance to the employer. You can get this by reading the position description, speaking with company employees, and doing research on the Internet. Understand the key words employers use to describe the kind of employee most likely to succeed. They are the ones companies want to hire.
- As you develop your resume and prepare for interviews, be sure and practice the translation of your background to what is of importance to an employer. It is in this sense that I have often advised clients that their resume is not about them. It is about what an employer needs from the position being filled. Figure that out and use the discussion of your background as you develop your resume and prepare for interviews to give it to them.
- Your resume will get extra attention if referred by a trusted source. That is usually a current or former employee, vendor, or personal friend of the hiring manager. Don’t overlook using college administrators and faculty who have referred successful candidates before. Use your social network to find out who you know that is connected to the organizations in question and use them as referral sources.
- There is a good chance you will be back this way again—i.e., looking for a job. Take note of the skills, attributes and connections you wish you had but do not. Put together a list and set out to develop whatever is required to survive and prosper in the new job market. If you happen to be an undergraduate in your freshman or sophomore year, now is a great time to get started. An early start is the best way of all to tip the odds in your favor.