In a job search or networking campaign you can do things that “feel good” but produce not meaningful results. I’ve started down that road twice…
When I got laid off I dove into the job search head first. I knew that “it is a numbers game” and so I began to develop various resumes (for different jobs I was applying to) and send them out to recruiters, prospective employers, etc. On a very focused day I could apply to about 7 jobs… considering the time and thought that went into customizing the cover letter and going through all of the convoluted processes that each company has for applying, this was alot. I did this for 6 weeks – 6 days a week, 10 hours a day. It was a very intense process. At the end of the day I could smile and say “I applied to X jobs today” and feel really good about my efforts. After that 6 week period the net result was being invited to 2 different companies for interviews. Easily less than a 2% “success” rate.
I really was using the wrong metrics to measure my efforts.
Another example of using wrong metrics was when I first launched JibberJobber. In the web world there are various third party metrics that help a webmaster understand if they are on the right path. Since I’m not MySpace or some other “amazingly successful” website I tried to determine what metrics I should use… and I reported back to my investors. These metrics included Google’s “page rank”, Alexa’s traffic rank, Technorati’s ranks. But at the end of the day, no matter what Google, Alexa and Technorati thought (and each of them have their own problems (think: where are they getting their raw data, and how reliable is it??)), the real metric should have been tied back to financial sustainability.
After all, that’s what we’re all going after, isn’t it? Financial sustainability?
When my job search paradigm shifted I found some consistency in other metrics that I should have been monitoring. Here is what I think might be the two most important metrics to have (no matter where you are at in your employment):
Number of Network Contacts: Whether they are new contacts or old contacts, the fact that you are meeting and talking to people on a regular basis. Weekly goal: 50 (10 per day)
Number of Interviews: This can include “informational interviews” which is just talking to someone at the company and interviewing them about the company, needs, etc. Note that this is an excellent networking technique as it (a) makes you listen more than you talk, (b) allows you to harvest excellent information, (c) gives you something to talk about at length (their company) which provides the environment to strengthen your relationship with them, etc. Weekly goal: 10 (2 per day)
OOPS. I forgot this one, but was reminded on 11/14/06: Number of Companies you are focusing on: If you have one that may be too few (rare exceptions, of course). If you have more than, say, 8, that may be too many. Having companies that you are focusing on really helps in your networking, and your other efforts.
I didn’t make these up, or invent them, but of all the metrics that I have seen in accountability sessions these are the two that I think position you to have long-term success (in a job search and even after you land the job). Maybe more interesting than these two metrics are the metrics that I’m NOT listing above:
Number of hours/days put into the job search: This is obviously important, but I struggled with listing this as critical because I’m a fan of ‘smarter not harder.’ I think this would be a non-issue if you are hitting other, more important goals. However, I do remember one bit of advice that I found very interesting: “don’t take vacations” was advice from a guy who talked about a weekend vacation that left him totally unfocused and he spent the next 2 weeks trying to get back into a productive groove.
Number of jobs applied to: … isn’t this metric from the ’80’s? Seriously, it doesn’t play into the idea that most jobs are found through networking, or the “hidden job market” idea… this is a misleading metric that too many people get trapped into.
Number of recruiters working with: (or number of job boards posted on) there has been discussion on this blog about how to effectively work with recruiters and job boards. I know they are valuable but don’t spend time with this as a key metric (my results here was that I had 30 recruiters that I was “working with” – it literally did me no good but it made me feel better that 30 recruiters knew who I was. Too bad I couldn’t read this blog back then :p)
What are the metrics by which you think you are successful in your job search or networking activities? Are these metrics really appropriate for you and the goals you have?