My job search by the numbers

Posted on 03/17/2011 in misc

Very brief review: I was blindsided by a layoff the Monday after Thanksgiving. I'm a software sales and marketing executive by trade, and for the most part, focused my job search on opportunities to sell complex technical products or services. I was out of work about 90 days, although I've sort of had a job, or at least known where I was going, for the last month.

Because I've been unemployed with way too much free time on my hands, I took a look at what actually happened in my job search.

Jobs applied for: There are 110 conversations in my Gmail Jobs folder. I was sloppy about actually saving stuff to the folder, and not every online application resulted in an acknowledgment email in return. I think we can safely assume I applied for 150 jobs.

Actual opportunities: I define an opportunity as anytime I had a substantiative conversation with somebody about a job. It might be a recruiter, it might the company, it might be a contact that can refer me in somewhere and knows of a specific opportunity. I'm counting 23 of these. So that's about a 15% success rate for taking job leads to opportunities. That is pretty good I think.

Breakdown on sources of opportunities: Networking - 13 LinkedIn Jobs - 4 Recruiters 5 (4 from a single recruiter) Indeed.com - 1

So, clearly networking is the strongest route to a new job. I hope that is not a surprise to anybody reading this. I paid for 3 months of premium service with Sales Ladder. Not only did it not produce a single interview, I'm not sure if I ever even got a single acknowledgment from the recruiters and companies that advertise there. In short, the service was useless. Dice.com, Careerbuilder, and all the others I assumed I would reach via the Indeed.com aggregation of all the public job sites. I really didn't find that much with Indeed either.

LinkedIn was quite useful. I did not pay for the premium job search functionality with LinkedIn. Also, I think I was much more likely to get a personal response (even when the answer was no) with the jobs listed on LinkedIn.

Recruiters.....meh. I worked with one that was responsive, smart, and followed up when she said she would. The rest have about a 5 minute attention span, and if they can't plug you into an opportunity in that 5 minute conversation, you are dead to them forever. Your ideal job could hit their desk the next day and they won't remember you. This confirms what I have generally always thought about most recruiters. There are diamonds in the rough out there, but they are rare.

The traditional job sites such as Monster.com, CareerBuilder, etc are worse than useless, IMHO. They suck up your time by giving the impression of making progress by applying for jobs. The reality is you will never hear back from 99% of the jobs you apply for on those sites. As you can see above, they generated exactly 1 interview for me, and it was a job that I ultimately was over qualified for anyway. They did generate some sketchy cold calls from organizations that wanted to sell me a $500 resume writing package though.

So, if you find yourself looking for a job, I would expend a lot of time looking for opportunities to network. Go beyond your LinkedIn Connections and Facebook friends. Go out to Chamber of Commerce events, happy hours, anywhere you might get a chance to talk to a bunch of people in your target field / industry in a short period of time. Check LinkedIn daily. Then network some more. Networking will get you your next job. The numbers say that the generic job sites are a waste of time, but I'm sure most of you will be like me and continue to look out of fear of missing the one legitimate opportunity there. And that is probably ok, as long as it doesn't interfere with your more productive efforts.

Here are some other thoughts on the job hunting process.

Time: Companies are taking forever to make decisions. 3 and 4 interviews appears to be the norm these days. In one case I made the final 2, and the company partners were split on who to hire. So neither of us got the job and they kept looking.

If it takes you 6 months to hire somebody, you are not a cutting edge, progressive company. You are a dinosaur. And we all know what happened to the dinosaurs.

Employee Referrals: An inside referral should result in a personal reply, even if the answer is no, 100% of the time. This is not negotiable, and this did not happen for me. There were several large, well known companies where I was actually a very good fit for a job and had an inside connection, yet they didn't even bother to send me a ding email. Contrast that with several small business owners where I had referrals that went out of their way to help me, even though they personally didn't have a job to discuss with me.

Corporate job sites: Corporate recruiting sites suck. There is no polite way to put it. They look like they were designed by drunk monkeys randomly flinging poo at a computer screen, and the data entry screens were all lined up with the poo marks. There has got to be a business opportunity to build a decent job board for corporate sites. Two or three main players seem to dominate the space, yet not one of them has thought of making it possible to save my info and reuse it across all their customers. I filled out the exact same form from the exact same provider at least 25 or 30 times.

Phantom Jobs: I kept seeing the same jobs getting renewed on various job boards. Jobs I was qualified for. In some cases, jobs that were right in my wheelhouse. Yet I couldn't get an interview, or even a thanks for playing email. Even if I'm not the ideal candidate, I'd think I rate a first interview if I'm close and you are still still desperately seeking candidates 3 weeks later. It sort of makes you wonder what they are doing with all the resumes.

If you are reading this and are unemployed - don't let the bastards get you down. It's a tough market out there right now. Every company can find their ideal candidate. I think it is particularly difficult to change industries right now. I got to the final cut several times only to lose out to somebody with 10+ years selling for a direct competitor or partner of the firm.

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