How to Apply for Jobs with Fewer Openings (But Land More Interviews)
It’s a well-known fact that job hunting is a numbers game. Isn’t it true that the more applications you send out, the higher your chances of landing a job are?
Well, not quite.
I believe that less is more when it comes to job hunting—and really, in all aspects of life.
As a Millennial career and life coach, I’ve seen a lot of clients spend their time acting out some variant of the following scenario:
It’s a Sunday afternoon, and you’re feeling inspired to apply for all of the job openings you marked on your calendar the week before. So you spend countless hours tweaking your resume, cover letters, and application forms. By dinnertime, you’re feeling like a productivity rock star, confident that the interview requests will start pouring in over the next few weeks.
Except they don’t, at least not in the way, you had hoped. Worse, you haven’t heard anything from the one or two companies about whom you were so enthusiastic.
So you devote another Sunday afternoon to a new batch of applications, and the cycle begins all over again.
While it may seem sensible to send out a large number of applications for jobs that match your expertise and skill set, it can get tedious. And, maybe more crucially, it is ineffective.
As a result, I’m here to propose an alternative method.
The “9-Out-of-10” Rule is here to stay.
When it comes to job hunting, I tell my clients to follow the 9-Out-of-10 Rule. In other words, if a job does not excite you and challenge you, it isn’t worth applying.
Greg McKeown’s “90 Percent Rule,” which he introduces in his book Essentialism, inspired this approach. McKeown explains:
Consider the single most significant criterion for that selection when you evaluate an option and then assign it a score between 0 and 100. If you give it a score of less than 90%, it will be immediately changed to 0, and you will be forced to reject it. This way, you won’t be caught up in indecision or, worse, stuck in the 1960s or 1970s.
Consider how you’d feel if you received a 65 on a test. Why would you purposefully choose to feel that way about a major life decision?
What Makes the “9-Out-of-10” Rule Better Than the Old Way?
It’s all about the quality of the product rather than the quantity. The most significant advantage of this strategy is that you can apply to fewer jobs while creating higher-quality applications. Consider this: you could send out ten generic applications in two hours—or two genuinely exceptional personalized applications. And as a result, you’ll get better results.
Furthermore, if you’re applying to a small number of jobs that you’re passionate about, your excitement will shine through. When faced with a pool of candidates who all have the same qualifications, employers will generally choose the most enthusiastic individual about the job.
You’ll also be more motivated for longer. When you spend hours upon hours applying to a massive list of jobs, a certain percentage of the organizations will inevitably reject you (perhaps never hearing back from them). After a series of rejections, even the most optimistic of us can’t help but feel disappointed. You’ll get fewer rejections and stay motivated longer if you limit the number of jobs you apply to—and, more crucially, only apply to the most relevant, stimulating employment possibilities.
Furthermore, instead of having confused feelings about whether or not you want the job in the first place, you’ll be genuinely delighted when you hear back from companies.
Let’s have a look at it in action.
I recently worked with a finance client desperate to get out of her high-pressure position and into something that would allow her to live the more balanced, healthy lifestyle she desired.
She applied for about ten jobs per week and received very few responses (and even fewer interviews).
She was understandably terrified when I told her about the “9-Out-of-10 Rule.” She was ready to quit her work right away, and this method appeared to take an eternity. But she committed to giving it a month’s worth of effort. If that didn’t work, she’d go back to applying for jobs the old way.
Throughout the month, she grudgingly skipped the jobs she would rank a seven or eight on a scale of one to ten, opting instead to apply to only five opportunities, all of which she was ecstatic. She had interviews scheduled for three of the five opportunities by week three, and one of the companies offered her a job before the end of the month.
McKeown refers to those who do less to obtain more as “essentialists,” who “say yes to only the top 10% of opportunities.”
” You are entitled to the same.