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Job Hunting is a Numbers Game - Myth or Reality?


What comes to mind when you hear the words, “numbers game?” You may think about pitching your resumes (or even yourself) at moving targets. If you associate those words with your job search, you may be thinking more is better. But is it really? Corporations and organizations of various sizes receive dozens to thousands of resumes every day. Some are the result of ads placed on the Internet or in the newspaper while others are unsolicited. When some job seekers think of the words “numbers game” they think about a shot in the dark or blindly playing the odds. Job-hunting is not a crapshoot; it’s a carefully organized and implemented plan of action. Although there is plenty of competition and there always will be, there are some specific steps you can take to use the “game” to your advantage. However, it’s important to first understand the myths versus the realities.

The myth is that playing the “numbers game” works when you’re looking for a job. The realities lie with your marketing plan, resume and approach to job interviews. There are hundreds of thousands of job seekers caught up in the “numbers game.” It means that they are sending e-mails to every recruiter in the country or mass-mailing resumes to hundreds of companies in the hopes they will hit pay dirt. Any time you are using quantity without a marketing plan in the hopes of getting a job, you are playing the “numbers game.” But, if this strategy isn’t going to work what is?

Your market plan and the “numbers game”
Avoid playing games by developing a marketing plan and deciding which companies are definitely of interest to you. Keep in mind that you should be looking at prospective employers as critically as they are looking at you. You have a lot to offer; you job is to decide how you will present that information in your resume and during interviews. But, let’s continue with the marketing plan.

There are “A,” “B,” and “C” companies. The “A” companies should be at the top of your list. They offer exactly what you want, or at the very least a close match. The “B” companies are second best and in many cases, close runner-ups. The “C” companies are possibilities, but are not really what you are hoping for. Each group is a part of your marketing plan. You could easily have a total of one hundred employers or more on your targeted list, especially if you live in a large metropolitan area or are you are willing to relocate.

Now decide how you will approach the companies on your list starting with the “A” companies. Will you send an e-mail detailing who you are and what you have to offer in a marketing letter without enclosing a resume? Or, will you e-mail or snail-mail a cover letter addressed to “Hiring Authority” along with your resume? How about looking for jobs on the web sites of your target companies or registering your credentials with premier job boards or with recruiters?

Even when contacting the “A,” “B,” or “C” companies when playing the “numbers game,” it’s a hit or miss approach to making contact. Maybe, you will use the telephone to reach these companies. You can do that in one of two ways: 1) Cold-call or 2) Get an introduction through someone you know who either works there, has worked there, or knows someone who works there that may be willing to help you connect with a hiring manager. Along this same vein, start networking with the goal of getting a face-to-face interview right off the bat. It’s no secret that the best way to find a job is through someone you know.

As part of your marketing plan you well need to stay organized and record everything you do. That includes where you send e-mails. When you are making a lot of contacts on a daily basis, it’s easy to get confused. Keep a log of phone contacts that you make, resumes you send out, and interviews you have whether it’s a telephone interview, informational interview, or formal face-to face-interview. Also, make note of whom you spoke with and whether or not follow up is required; enter a follow up date. Excel spreadsheets are ideal for keeping track of this type information.

Your resume and the “numbers game”

Resumes can be delivered via the Internet and will cost you only your time, and you can’t beat the speed in which it’s delivered. However, like your marketing plan, you need to decide where your resume needs to go. Too many job seekers aim at every target, whether or not there’s a job fit. Companies are bombarded with resumes, query letters, phone calls and walk-in traffic. Your resume won’t get the attention it deserves if you get caught up in the “numbers game.” You will simply become one of thousands who pitched their resume into a sea of resumes without regard to making a match.

There’s a better way to reach large numbers of prospective employers who are more apt to be interested. That effective strategy is called targeted mailing. The difference is that you carefully identify companies for which you believe you would be a good fit. In addition to known job openings, research companies that have recruited people like you in the past. Even though they may not be hiring at the moment, there is a good likelihood they will need someone with your qualifications in the future.

Here’s how the different approaches worked for two job seekers. Ben and Hank Dalton are identical twins who decided to experiment with two different approaches to the job market. Both men sought work in mechanical engineering. Ben mass-mailed five hundred resumes via the Internet. Hank selectively targeted companies with which he had something in common. Ben received replies from two percent of those he contacted. Hank got responses from 11 percent and two job offers followed. It took Ben six months to find an acceptable position, while Hank was working within three.

As you prepare to send out resumes, consider the following:

Identify companies that are of interest to you and that you believe have the most potential for hiring you. Consider type of work, salary requirements, your geographical preferences and reputation of the company in the industry.

Research to learn more about each company. Dun & Bradstreet, as well as state, county or city company directories, can provide you with this information in addition to the Internet and company web sites.

Develop a one page marketing letter (two pages at the most) to serve as a cover letter for your resume. The letter should briefly describe your accomplishments and how you see yourself as a fit with their company. Don’t include personal information such as age, marital status, race, or salary history/expectations. And never include a photograph. The employer could use any or all of this information to screen you out.

At the end of the letter, include a “thank you” for their time in reading your resume.

Follow up with a telephone call. Try to get an appointment for a personal interview. Be persistent. Many job seekers give up too easily.

Targeted mailing of resumes takes time and requires you to do your homework. Mass mailing may initially seem easier, but in the long run, it doesn’t pay off nearly as often. In addition to a low response rate, the responses you receive may not be fruitful, particularly if you mass-mailed without carefully considering the recipients of your resume. You could even get an invitation to interview, and then realize belatedly that you have absolutely no interest in working for that company.

The interview and the “numbers game”

Every interview is a rehearsal for the one that brings the job offer and it’s also a chance to get your foot in the door. Make it count! You don’t want to spend excessive amounts of time interviewing for the wrong jobs. Don’t play the “numbers game” with the interview process either. In most cases you will be applying for a specific job as a result of your marketing plan. However, there may be times when you are cold-calling or are involved in informational interviews. Mentally prepare for interviews with your goal in mind. Employers don’t like to waste time with candidates who are “open to anything” or who appear unfocused. Be selective in the companies you target and you can’t help but be successful during the interview.

In conclusion, job seekers get jobs in a variety of ways. It doesn’t matter how you find a job, (you only need one offer that’s attractive to you) as long as you get what you want, within a reasonable amount of time. Avoid the “numbers game” that inevitably wastes time and energy. You need a plan that you can live with even when you get discouraged. Recognize that your resume and cover letter are as important as anything you can send to prospective employers. Skip the “numbers game.” That’s how you win invitations, followed by interviews that lead to job offers.

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