—and why people get discouraged.

A jobseeker told me that the president of a company spoke to him and asked for his résumé. The president gave it to HR and the guy never even received a phone call.

Dice rolling on blue background


Is there a better recommendation than the president of a company? What was on that résumé that caused HR to shy away from him…YIKES!

It’s not a numbers game!
About once each year I raise this subject but with a different perspective and updated information. So here we go for 2014.

No matter how few jobs there are out there, and no matter how many jobseekers there are applying for those jobs, it still isn’t a numbers game.

Why not?
It can’t be a numbers game. I vividly remember hearing on NPR that a woman in NYC said she had applied to over 3,000 jobs — and hadn’t received one response.

two dice

If it were a numbers game she would probably have received something!

Besides, there are some specific actions every jobseeker can take to increase his or her “odds” of getting an interview and eventually get a job.

This search on Google will bring up the usual checklists of what to do and not do to increase your odds of getting noticed, getting a call, getting considered, and getting a job offer.

Crank it up a notch!
Everyone can read those lists and of course I have my own which you can read here. It’s not a numbers game because it’s really about strategy.

Most people don’t strategize their job applications. Especially when the numbers-approach is used, applying to jobs can become a crank-em-out activity. In my opinion, that approach will bring frustration and discouragement because there is no way to identify and monitor progress.

Woman face problem challenge 3D puzzle

Care where it matters.

The Jobseekers’ Care List:

  • Make every word count. If you read the blog from last week then you have the list of readers and their needs.
  • Keep your emotions down.
  • ASK: How will my cover letter and résumé be experienced by the reader?
    It is as much about the readers’ experience as it is the information.

    • Is there a good balance of white space?
    • Is the font easily readable (nothing smaller than Times New Roman 11)
    • Is it easy to navigate and find the information they need first? (Education, years experience, industry, languages, management scope, etc.)
    • Is there sufficient context for detailed information to have meaning?
  • This is about polish and detail. It can take hours to carefully craft a cover letter and résumé for a position. Take that time.

REMEMBER: the more polish there is, the easier it is to spot a mistake. Even the smallest oversight can get you eliminated.

Your cover letter and résumé must shine—no matter where they look or read. Wherever their eyes land—it has to be a positive, credible experience.

How many a week?
I suggest 5-7 well-crafted, polished job applications a week.


How to play the job numbers:
This is a calculated, controlled project. I’m using the word “control” here in a scientific sense. Scientists use a control group to set the base for an experiment.


  1. Establish your basic cover letter and résumé.
  2. Customize them in a specific way and apply for 7 to 10 jobs.
  3. Analyze what you get back:
    • Nothing? Then customize further and try again.
    • You receive a form email immediately after you apply through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?
      GOOD! You probably got through the system.
    • A delayed email from the “Talent Acquisition Team?”
      GOOD AGAIN – your résumé may be reviewed by a person.
    • A screening call from an HR Assistant?
      BAD! That means they couldn’t find something important on your résumé.
      Take CAREFUL NOTES on the questions they ask and adjust your résumé!
    • An interview from a hiring professional who talks to you about the job?
    • NOTE: If the job isn’t a good fit, then it doesn’t count…sorry.

  4. After 10 applications, change specific information and go again.
  5. Carefully track your progress. How close are you getting to an interview?
  6. Continue until you are getting calls for jobs that are a good fit.

* * *

A job that is a good fit is
and meets your financial needs.

* * *

You will get a job if:

  1. You don’t stop trying and…
  2. You don’t stop learning.

So this isn’t a numbers game and getting a job isn’t a game of chance. It’s a care game. If you care in ways that matter to the hiring community, you will reduce your time to employment.

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