Winning the Job Search Numbers Game

WorkCoachCafeA successful job search is not a simple “numbers game” that you can win by endlessly applying for jobs. Simply submitting as many resumes as possible does not work. A different version of the numbers game provides greater opportunities for success, however.

The Job Application Numbers Game Does NOT Work

Just keep clicking on that “Apply” button on every job posting you can find. Clicking over and over and over and over again on every job board and employer website you can find. Sooner or later something will click. Right?

Just like buying lottery tickets every week?  And, how well does that work for most of us!

Next to “being flexible” and “keeping your options open” (in other words, not knowing or communicating what job you want – see this post about that major mistake), this is the next most out-dated job search belief I see.

So, What Does Work?

If you were responsible for hiring a new employee, you would want to hire a person you could trust and work well with, who would do a good job and make you look good to your boss.

So, assume you had these two choices. Who would you hire:

  1. A total stranger.  OR
  2. A person already known to you, either a member of your own personal network (LinkedIn, etc.) or referred by a current employee or by a member of your network.

You would probably pick # 2, so would – and do – most of us.  It doesn’t mean that the person carefully submitting a targeted resume with a great, customized cover letter (or email) has no chance at all.

It means that the person known by someone trusted has a much better chance of being hired.

Networking Is the Numbers Game That DOES Work

The probability of connecting with a job, and an employee referral program, increases with the size of your network — the number of people who know you and are impressed by your work.

Build Your Online Reputation

Support your job search and career by building a strong online reputation. Because the vast majority of employers and recruiters Google job seekers before issuing a job interview invitation, your online reputation is very important!

So, take the time and make the effort to create a solid, professional image for yourself online.

Expand Your Network

You find a way to connect with people who know you (hopefully):

  • People you worked with in the past – colleagues, former bosses, even former subordinates.
  • People who were your customers or clients in the past.
  • People who worked for your employer’s suppliers or other allied organizations.
  • People you know who work for competitors of your former employers (be careful with this one).
  • Participate carefully and professionally in social media online to become more “known” in a wider circle than the total stranger.

These days, your chances of connecting with former colleagues, customers, suppliers, etc. is much higher than it was in the pre-Internet (pre-LinkedIn and pre-Facebook) eras:

  • Do an “advanced” people search on LinkedIn to find people who work — or worked — for your current, or former, employers.
  • Check the LinkedIn “Education” page (on the “Interests” drop-down menu) to reconnect with people you attended school with, plus fellow alumni who are local and would make good network connections — like those who might work for one of your target employers.
  • Search the LinkedIn Groups to find hundreds of corporate “alumni” groups.
  • Jump on Facebook, and search for the names of people and the names of your former employers, ask your FB Friends, place a FB ad, etc.

Don’t expect an immediate referral from someone you’ve just met online, unless you have built a strong, positive image of who you are and what you know.

Note!  In a recent recruiting survey, 65% of employers surveyed reported that they rewarded the employees who referred a successful job candidate.  The employee making the referral got paid by the employer when their candidate was hired! So everyone wins!

[More: How to Be Referred provides important information about how to be referred.]

Bottom Line

When I ask people new in their jobs how they got the job, often they tell me, “My former boss called me,” or “A guy I used to work with contacted me,” and other personal referrals.  You can be that person, too!  LinkedIn, Facebook, Google/Bing, and the Internet make it easy to reconnect with people you worked with and make it easier to become a “known quantity” to a wide circle of people.  Take the time to expand your network, and you can beat the numbers game, too.

More About Winning the Numbers Game

Why Submitting a Resume Isn’t Enough (and What Does Work)

Reputation Management

To Be Hired, Be Referred for the Job

Express Lane to a New Job: Employee Referral

Why Referrals Close the Sale for a Successful Job Search

To Be Hired, Be Find-able

To Be Hired, Be Reach-able

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About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 2011, Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoachCafe.  A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org, is a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a columnist on HuffingtonPostAOL Jobs, and LinkedIn.  Follow Susan on Twitter (@jobhuntorg) and on Google+.

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