Job Hunting – Qualitative vs Quantitative approach

A job is a social contract in which you trade time for money(both human constructs) working for a person or company. As money is required for most people in our world, this is a necessary evil for many. Although I strongly believe that one must find ways to support oneself and prosper by starting one’s own business and being his own boss, that is beside the point as far as this article goes.

Having agreed that it may sometimes be necessary to work and indeed for those of us who have not been born with a silver spoon in our mouths, this would seem to be the only plausible way forward, the question becomes: how do you find a desirable or at least non-undesirable job that suits your needs?

The answer most of the time is that you dust up a cv or resume, spit out a cover letter and send this to companies at home or overseas. You throw shit to the wall and hope it sticks.

The reality sinks in soon enough. Only a small percentage of cvs sent are usually replied to and even then in most cases companies have already lined up someone for the job and are merely posting the job vacancy because the law requires them to.

Given such a scenario, do you:

A) send a few highly customized cover letters with your cv


B) send tonnes of generic but well written cover letters with your cv

I call strategy A the phalanx strategy because it relies on quality, and B the horde because it relies on numbers

Let’s consider the phalanx first:

  1. By sending highly customized cover letters, you target the needs requested by the company more accurately
  2. You appear to be just the right guy or gal
  3. You rely on a higher % rate of response in return for time invested

Ok, so what about the horde?

  1. You maximize your time and send tens, maybe hundreds of cover letters
  2. you get a low % rate but the numbers game makes you an eventual winner
  3. you are less outcome dependent and give less of a toss about individual job vacancies. This is good for your self confidence

Although both strategies have their merits and their adherents and perhaps the best solution is to apply them both to various degrees. Start with the phalanx and see what responses you get. If your emails are being ignored then pay less individual attention to them and unleash the horde(no spam please).

By not investing too much in individual emails to companies that discarded your effort without thinking twice, you free yourself up to succeed even if the response rate is as low as 10% or lower. Lining interviews up is a matter of numbers now and once you get to that stage, you’re able to show what quality you can really bring to the table. You cease to be a number and an attachment and can bring your personality and experience to bear. They’d be fools not to hire you.

It doesn’t matter how many steps it takes to climb the mountain. All that matters is what you do and where you travel to once you’re on top. Remember that it’s a fool’s errand to work for the rest of your life. Look for ways to exit the dreaded rat race through a combination of working hard and more importantly smart. Keep positive and may the numbers ever be in your favour!



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