“Why is finding a job so difficult?” I hear this question a lot. Of course, there are a lot of ways to answer, and most of them relate to the person asking. Is your resume well written and compelling? Does your experience match the positions for which you are applying? Are you prepared for your interviews?

But, if the answer to all those questions is yes and you are still struggling, maybe it is time to think about the job application process in a different way.

Are you applying to enough jobs?

These days, you are often up against hundreds, and potentially thousands, of other candidates for one or two positions. You need to take this into consideration, and when you do, you realize that you should be applying to a lot of jobs in order to see a result.

We have worked with hundreds of people from the beginning of their job search through successfully receiving and negotiating an offer, and in this work, my company and I compiled data to glean insights on the number of jobs to which you need to realistically apply in order to move forward in each step of the process.

Here is what we have found for a realistic scenario:

• In the application phase, there is a 10% success rate of moving forward. Your total success rate, as defined in this model as getting a job from this stage, is 0.72%.

• Next is the HR screen stage. Candidates have a 60% success rate of moving forward from this round and a 7.2% total success rate.

• The technical interview round is next. Even if you are not applying for a purely technical role, you can expect to see some sort of technical interview or assignment. The success rate in this stage is 30%, with a total success rate of 12%.

• The last round is the on-site interview. This usually consists of additional technical questions and behavioral interviews to test for culture fit. If you make it to this round, the success rate and total success rate are both 40%.

What do these percentages mean in terms of the number of jobs for you to apply to? It means that if you want to end up with five on-site interviews (likely giving you a 90% chance of landing one job), you should apply for 319 jobs.

If that is a bit overwhelming for you, you’re not alone. Most people can’t even fathom applying to that many jobs, and that is why you should also be working hard to increase your success rate in each of these phases. And how can you do that?

1. Application stage: Don’t rely on online portals. When you are applying to jobs, try to find the hiring manager or recruiter for the company and send them a cold email. Warm it up with a connection, if you can find one, like your school, hometown or loving dogs. This can increase your success rate for this stage to 15% and your total success rate to 2.81%.

2. HR screen: Don’t underestimate the power of a good thank-you email. Following up with the interviewer with a personalized email will do wonders. Make sure you include some information about the conversation and what you learned, as well as reiterate your excitement for the position. This can increase your success rate for this stage to 75% and your total success rate to 18.75%.

3. Technical round: Practice, practice, practice! For more technical roles, like software engineering and data science, you can find a lot of practice questions online. You should try to find a partner to practice with so that you can give feedback and get insights from one another. This can increase your success rate for this stage to 50% and your total success rate to 25%.

4. On-site interview: You should prepare for these questions the same way you prepared for the technical round. Research the company, especially their mission and values, and tailor your elevator pitch and additional behavioral responses to include the impact you can have on their mission. Their values are the closest thing you have to their behavioral rubric, so use it to your advantage. This can increase your success rate and total success rate to 50%.

If you do all of the above, you should be able to limit the number of applications you send to 80-100 rather than the overwhelming 300-plus. If you are still not seeing results, it might be time to revisit your résumé or the types of jobs for which you are applying. Finding your dream job can be overwhelming, but if you approach it analytically, you will find a method to the madness.


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