My client, Mary, was a very smart lady. She was in an active job search, and said she was following all my coaching advice. “Great,” I said. “How many face-to-face meetings did you have this week, and how many applications do you have active right now?”
“Face-to-face meetings?” she asked. “Active applications?” “Yes,” I answered. “How many people did you look in the eye and shake hands with this week, and how many recent applications do you have where you’ve applied and they have not yet dinged you – that letter that lets you know you are not under consideration?”
“I didn’t meet anyone this week,” she offered. “No one’s called me for an interview yet. But I’ve applied to five jobs to date.”
“Then you’re not following my coaching advice,” I said. “With all respect, could you have done that the first day of your search? Couldn’t you apply to five jobs in two or so hours?” Mary agreed and wanted to know more about what that looked like.
So, how do you know you’re doing a good job in your job search? You can be truly busy without anything really happening. Your computer talking to some company’s computer does not count. The most important thing to measure is actual interviews for jobs. Everything else is secondary. You need face time to get a job. And if you get interviews, you’ll get a job. If you don’t, you won’t.
Every Sunday, evaluate the prior week and plan the coming week. Here’s what to measure:
- People you’ve met in person. That’s the number of people each week you look eye to eye and ask for help in your search. Make your goal a minimum of 3. You must leave the house. Have coffee with folks. Many of these meetings will not go anywhere. But they keep you sharp on articulating what you are looking for and what you offer.
- New postings you’ve applied for. Yes, this method has a statistically low ROI, but you still should apply for posted openings that you find match your interests and that you feel qualified for. Make it 10 brand-new applications a week as minimum.
- New people you’ve met online. Make it a minimum of 5. If you can’t meet 5 people online in a week, you should question your efforts. People you know will introduce you to people you don’t know! “Linking” and “Friending” don’t count, but exchanging emails with a responsive human being does. If you write to someone and he generates a thought-out reply just for you, that counts as “meeting someone” online.
- New organizations you’ve found that “might” have a job you want. Shoot for finding 10 new companies every week that might be able to hire you. Research on an ongoing basis to keep this number up. Once you decide on the type of job you’re after, you’ll be building lists of organizations that hire people to do that type of job. Ten might not seem enough. But once a company is on your list, you’ll address it over and over in many ways, so the work will have a domino effect over time for each company on your active lists.
- Informational interviews you’ve had. That is a key hidden-job-market search technique. You want 2 informational interviews a week to run an effective campaign.
- Screening interviews with a real potential employer. A screening interview is a 5- to 10- minute interview by phone or in person to see if you’re a viable candidate for a position. That employer responded to your application for a posted position, or agreed to speak with you through networking. Though there’s no minimum, try to identify and count screening interviews, so you can calculate conversion rates (to follow).
- First interviews for a potential job. This includes interviews for posted openings and interviews with an organization that doesn’t have a posted opening but has agreed to meet with you about employing you. This is what counts! All your effort is designed to create more first interviews. Interviews get you jobs. This is the most important metric! Though there are variables with the type and level of job, if you have a robust search, you should be able to get 2 first interviews a week.
- Conversions. You should convert about half of your screening interviews spread to interview next steps. Likewise, you should be able to convert about half of your first interviews into steady interviews. Keep track of it! If you have lots of interviews for real possible jobs but you never get any callbacks or offers, you may have an interviewing issue to address.
- Follow-up interviews. It’s rare to be hired on first interviews. You may have two – or six, to land that offer. Success in staying alert and interested while getting callbacks is a crucial part of job search. Employers can take months to hire, and different people want to meet you. The search process itself may evolve, so lots of introductions and meetings are common. Count all your follow-up interviews for a possible job; it will help you keep track of which employers you need to note as time goes on.
- Open items. This is everyone you agreed to “check back with” by a certain date, every job you’ve applied to where they have not yet sent you a ding letter, everyone who said, “Why don’t you give us a call at the first of the month,” everyone who said, “We’ll let you know when we start interviewing,” and on. In any active job search, you should have dozens of these. Count them.
- Dings. Those are “possible jobs” for which you are rejected, plus active items that you now realize are dead. You should count your dings so you can see progress. Every time you get interviewed for a real potential job is a search success – whether you get a job offer or a ding letter – count them and celebrate them! Paradoxically, they demonstrate that you are doing many things right!
- Offers. And speaking of doing things right; if you are, you’ll start to get job offers. Some of them won’t be right for you, and you’ll decline them. Even those you decline are gratifying, so count them. Since most employers look at three finalists for every hire, average applicants should get an offer about one-third of the time they’re interviewed for a possible job.
In my next post, I’ll lay out what this measurement looks like; and share more on assessing things! I always welcome your thoughts! Please comment below.