Job Search is a process of learning by rejection

Monday, May 14th, 2012 - career change, I Need A Job, job search

Job Search is a process of

Learning by Rejection

I have been wanting to write this post for a while, but after an experience in the past few weeks, don’t think that I can put off not publishing much longer.

Why do Good Job Seekers get Rejected?

I started on this path by trying to answer the question Why do good job seekers get rejected? The main part of that answer is in communication:

  • They don’t know what they want to do
  • They hence can’t can’t communicate why they are right for that job, and hence won’t be able to create rapport with the Hiring Manager
  • These are the one third of job applicants who have the right skills for that job, but can not communicate them to the employer

Job Search and depression

But another factor soon raised its ugly head, and I had an Aha moment. From an academic study into job seekers, came the statistics that:

  • After 3months/90days, between 10% and 15% of job seekers are clinically depressed
  • After 6months, that figure has risen to a third
  • Yet, the average job seeker in the UK at present takes 8months to secure employment

Conclusion number1: we are not dealing with an unemployment problem in trying to solve the current economy, we are dealing with a long term health problem

In example, take Spain. 50% of the under 25’s there are unemployed. That means that between 15% and 20% of Spain’s under 25’s are clinically depressed. I wonder what the cost of that is, compared to say creating a national works scheme that would get them working? No wonder why they are marching and protesting.

Job Search is a process of learning by rejection

So the question this study posses for me, was why do so many job seekers become depressed? My answer was quite simple:

Job Search is a process of learning by rejection

If you think about, its quite logical. Firstly, you go from being part of a busy social situation in an office, to being alone and at home. To get one job offer, on average you will need to:

  • Undertake 3 job interview, for one job offer
  • Hence undertake 15 telephone interviews (ratio of about 5:1)
  • Hence undertake 300 job applications (ratio of 20:1. The average in the UK at present is over 250)

So, to get one job offer, you need to make 300 job applications. Or, put another way, to get employed you need to accept being rejected 299 times. Throughout this process, you are improving your job search technique by learning from rejection, and hence:

Job Search is a process of learning by rejection

I bet you buy carpet more often than you job seek

One of my initial answers to job seekers as to why they were unsuccessful, was that job search is a learnt and applied skill. Like any skill, if you don’t use it often enough, then you will forget it. Most are given job search and job application skills at the end of their period of academic study, such as at school, college or university. But after that, it is a skill that most don’t use regularly, and is hence lost. Add in that in the past 10 years, while 90% of job applications were processed via paper in 2000, by 2010 90% were processed online, job search thanks to the internet has been a fast changing market. Hence my explanation to job seekers has always been:

I bet you buy carpet more often than you job seek

Job Search Gender differences

Over the past few weeks, we had a tricky job search client. Having been passed her as a problem client by the office, I couldn’t understand why someone who seemed to have had such a brilliant academic record and outstanding career at the very highest of levels needed job search help?

I eventually turned to a friend, had a very enlightening and supportive call, and returned to helping this lady with a renewed insight. We targeted the job that she wanted, and in less than 24hrs got her the offer of a job interview, when the other 300 job applicants will need to wait until next Friday.

The insight I gained was from an article on, which through a study highlighted depression reason differences between men and women. The highlight conclusions of the study were:

  1. Women, but not men, get depressed when they feel unappreciated at work, or believe they are not appropriately rewarded for their efforts
  2. High levels of job strain depress men, but not women. Women are used to job strain because their “job” is never just their “job”
  3. Men get down when family gets in the way of work, while women get down when work gets in the way of family

I found the article fascinating, and if you read it the author links to a number of others studies which support the main academic studies conclusions.

To me, looking it at the issues from a job search problem, there cam two further conclusions. Clearly there are gender differences between men and women and how they address job search, but it suddenly made a lot of sense:

  • Men: job search for a men is strain within the job. They hence get more depressed initially within their own job search than women. To compensate, they apply for more jobs as the strain increases – click to apply syndrome – and hence get more rejection, which consequently makes them more stressed, and hence probably depressed
  • Women: job search stress for women is most felt in the individual job application rejections. The fact that she can spend more time with her family is the upside, to the downside of not being able to provide the same amount for them. Hence women should tend to cope better with long term job search strain, but apply for fewer jobs due to the stress of continual rejection

Job Search Success?

What is job search success? Simply its employment. But from reading academic studies and personal experiences helping job seekers, it is also employment in the quickest possible time scale. Anything less and you and your family could be having to cope with a long term health problem.

I didn’t come into Professional CV Writing to make a fortune (I make far more as a recruiter), and I still say to this day that I will never be the Worlds Best CV Writer. All of the professional CV and Resume writing bodies have annual competitions to decide who are the best CV/resume writers, but to me these competitions are almost pointless. A CV/resume is a 2page factually based sales document, the outcome from which should be that the hiring manager is motivated to pick up the phone to call you to give you a Telephone Interview: no more, and certainly no less. Hence to me personally, the worlds best CV does that the most times, and trying to judge CV/resumes on layout, looks and presentation is secondary to the “Get the Hiring Manager to take action” primary mantra.

How do you avoid depression in your job search, or at least minimise its likelihood? Firstly, know why you are job searching: do some things weekly with your friends and family, and keep doing them. Secondly, if you are not making progress after 30days by having been offered at least one job interview, then seek some help. Our Professional CV Writing Service at £147 is equivalent to a days wages for the average employed worker in the UK, and guarantees you a job interview in 30days or less, or your money back.

The key time scale in job search success is that first 90days, and after that your success goes downwards and it takes far more effort to get employed.

Good Luck!


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