Monday, 20 December 2010

William's 1,000 Job Applications

William made 1,000 job applications in 13 weeks

For all his effort he only got 1 reply and that was a 'No'.

Numbers like these are more than disappointing. What makes them even worse is that William achieved them on an 'intensive job-searching course', which means he was under someone else's care. A company or a group of professional people who were supposed to be helping him and his job search.

Despite the negligence and unprofessionalism of everyone involved with William's intensive course, these numbers hide something positive and encouraging that now belongs to William - and can belong to anyone else who has experienced something similar on a job search.

By any measure, 1,000 applications in 13 weeks is an impressive workload. It shows real effort and determination on William's part. He could have given up after 500 applications. Many people on the same course did nothing like his total, let alone half of it. If there was any failure it wasn't in William's effort and persistence.

Here's another failure William can't take the blame for. He was encouraged to send out as many applications as he could. 'It's a numbers game' he was told. 'If you send enough emails and letters and make enough calls, something will come back'. Empty statements like this are hard to argue with, especially when they're coming from an 'expert' or a 'professional'.

William was encouraged to make as many applications as he could instead of trying to make every application count. At the end of his 13 weeks there was no way for William to tell how many applications even reached a real person at the other end. There was no attempt to measure anything he could follow up on. There were no connections or interactions for William to learn from. There was nothing coming back the other way at all.

A job search is much more than racking up numbers and, as William's experience shows, it is much more than effort and persistence too. A job search is built around a combination of many things but somewhere close to the heart there has to be the knowledge, the feeling even, that we are making progress. We need something to measure and therefore prove that the applications we make add up to more than just a number.

William will never repeat this experience on his job search again (maybe this was one more valuable thing he learnt on this course?). From now on he isn't measuring his effort or his job search by the numbers. William no longer thinks will have to make another 1,000 applications and I agree with him. That's because instead of vast numbers of job applications, William is now focused on the people he is able to meet and talk to one at a time. He's also much more focused on the work he is able to do. The skills, experiences and qualifications he has earned over the years, the skills and experiences that will help him get back to work.

William's job search is now focused on much smaller numbers. He talks to people about the company they work for, the job they might be offering, the qualities in the person they are looking for, the skills and experience they need. William's job search might only be moving forward in single figures but they are now based on real conversations, genuine connections and personal interactions. His job search will still take time but he now has proof of his progress. Maybe a statistic on a spreadsheet somewhere won't show a big enough number but in William's opinion that's just something else he doesn't have to take the blame for.

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