Measuring the metrics is key to improving your job application success

Thursday, December 18th, 2008 - career transition, Education, Job Application, NGO/NFP

Sam asks: I’m 24 and have a degree and masters but can’t even get an interview from the jobs I am applying for, it’s really frustrating. I’m thinking maybe my application forms are rubbish because I have office experience and clearly done a lot of studying so I think I am suitable for the jobs I apply. My MA was in human rights and I am looking to get a foot in the door with a NGO or in the NFP sector, so I’m just looking for an entry level position – nothing major or complicated (yet). Can anyone please give me advice on applications forms, making my CV stand out, or any suggestions because I really hate my current job but don’t want to quit it until I get a new job! Thank you

In answer:

Getting a new job is a structured exercise, and the major management issue behind that structure is measurement of results. You only want one job, but to get that you need to think about the one third metrics which apply to each stage of getting a new job:


  • For every three application forms you fill out, you should be getting one phone call
  • For every three phone calls from potential employers, you should be getting one interview
  • And for every three interviews, you should be getting one job offer

This means that on average, around 30 filled out job applications results in one job offer. If you are not close to or above these metrics, then you should know where your process is going wrong:


  • Low application to telephone call conversion = either you applying for the wrong type of jobs, or have a poor CV
  • Low phone call to interview conversion = poor telephone manner or approach
  • Low interview to job offer conversion = you need interview coaching

There are exceptions to this metrics rule, and the NGO/NFP sector is one of them. As the sector recruits from both the community in which it works, the community in which it is located and from those who want to make it their work sector; the competition is high and the pay rates relatively low. The metrics from my knowledge of talking to those who work in the sector can be as high as one in ten.

I suggest you speak to some specialist NGO/NFP sector recruiters for their advice – they may advise that as the commercial sector is not recruiting, that their sector is being flooded with applicants; certainly that is the case at higher levels, as many experienced commercial directors make earlier lifestyle choices. I would as a secondary strategy also pick three specific NGO/NFP organizations you would very much like to work for, and write a letter to their COO explaining why.

Finding a job is not simple, but you can make it more complex by not watching the metrics and learning from where you are letting the process down.

Good Luck!

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