Intimidating Job Search Statistics…And How to Get Around Them

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How long does it really take a hiring manager to read through a resume?  How many applicants are applying for the same role, and how do I know if my application is actually being read?

These are just some of the recurring questions plaguing the minds of jobseekers everywhere, at all levels, in every area of expertise. And in today’s ultra-competitive market, the statistics around job searching and hiring can seem stacked against even the most qualified candidates. However, knowing what you’re up against can actually work in your favor and help you to create a strategy to market yourself more effectively, by avoiding the common pitfalls many other candidates often encounter.

1) An employer scans a resume for an average of 10 second, and approximately 30-45 second reading it, so a strong first impression is important.

Your Best Move: Make sure the top 1/3 of your resume, the “prime real estate”, includes the most pertinent information, including a strong branded summary statement that gives your reader a clear snapshot of your most relevant skills, strengths and experience that you bring to the table. Additionally, choose a format and design that best supports your information – cramming what should be a 2 page resume onto 1 page sacrifices the readability of the document, and may cause your reader to overlook important qualifying points.

2) A professionally written resume makes you 38% more likely to be contacted by recruiters, and 40% more likely to land the job. An ineffective resume can actually cost you thousands of dollars in lost time, income and opportunity.

Your Best Move: Resume writers often come from prior experience in human resources or recruiting and know exactly what to look for even in the smallest details. They’ve likely looked at thousands of resumes in their careers and spoken to hundreds of decision makers, and can quickly identify any missing details or red flags that you may be overlooking. Is your message coming through strong enough? Do your documents communicate a cohesive personal brand? Should you leave those skills or that particular job off of the resume? They know the answers to those questions, and have the expert reasoning to back it up.

3) About 80% of jobs are never advertised, hence the term “the hidden job market”. In addition to that, approximately 27% of all external hires come from referrals.

Your Best Move: Be out there networking at every stage of your career, even if you aren’t actively looking for a job or making a shift. Contacts that you make now may turn into exactly the key relationships you need to leverage to get your foot in the door at a target company down the line. Remember – people shift jobs on average every 2-3 years, and the more companies at which folks in your network have worked, the more first and second degree connections you potentially have to those organizations that other candidates don’t. And a candidate recommendation from an internal employee holds significantly more weight and credibility than a randomly submitted resume. Why do you think many companies offer lofty referral bonuses to their employees? Because the pre-qualifying work is already done for them.

4) The average number of people who apply for a job is 118, of which 20% of those applicants typically get an interview.

Your Best Move: In my opinion and experience, 118 is even extremely low, and 20% is extremely high, which means competition is fierce and standing out from the crowd is important. If you can’t work the networking angle to get your resume into the right inbox, make sure you’re sending it with a compelling email intro in the body of your message that introduces who you are, what you’re applying to, and an additional sentence or two about your qualifications. You want to compel your reader to continue to read your materials by pre-qualifying yourself in the initial introduction. This is the first, and potentially only, encounter you will have with this decision maker, so make it impactful and attention-grabbing.

5) Average follow up time after an interview is anywhere from 24 hours to 2 weeks.

Your Best Move: So you left the interview with butterflies in your stomach and the impression that they’d call you the next day. But now it’s the end of the week, and 4 days have gone by without a follow up, let alone an offer letter. Assuming you’ve already sent a thank you note within 24 hours of the interview, follow up again within a week with an email communication re-enforcing your interest in the role, and politely asking if there is any further interest in moving forward.

Don’t be afraid to instill a sense of urgency in them by letting them know that you are looking at other potential opportunities (because you are), but that they are still your top choice and you’d like to keep them abreast of your availability. Now, is there any chance of the opportunity moving forward? If they’re really interested, chances are they will at least follow up with you letting you know so, and to hang tight while they sort things out on the administrative end.


Sources: The Ladders, Forbes,