I’ve been looking for work. It is one of the things that keep me busy, busier then I like to be. I find the job-hunting task to be an exceptionally frustrating and difficult experience.
It brings out the total ‘procrastinator’ in me. Applying for jobs requires an individual to make some hard choices about what they want out of life. For a person who has devoted years to an academic path, this is easy, in a way. Years of training and thought have gone into what you choose to do, and the main test is one of patience, in waiting to find the opening that you have been waiting for.
And in waiting, often the graduate has to find a different position to meet the more mundane task of making a living. This is a very frustrating situation, because you are required to apply for positions that may not be as challenging, fulfilling, or as interesting as you would like.
I am not a graduate, but I have a similar reaction. What I want to do is to write. However the chances of being able to make a living doing this, in the Australian market, are remote indeed. It is the ‘law of supply and demand’ and there are too many good writers, and too few paying publications.
I find this frustrating because I love writing, and over a wide range of topics. I love to write about business, politics, people, and places, as well as my sports writing. I am actively working to extend my writing ability by writing over wider things, and to this end, I’ve persuaded my inamorata to set me a different topic each week. It is all very well to write about what you know. It is no challenge for me to write about yet another Test victory for Australia; this way, I have a new topic every week.
That will improve me as a writer. It will not help me get a job overmuch. But when I am writing well, I feel well.
Getting a job of the sort I am looking for is a matter of simple mathematics. My good friend Michael Jennings, who is of a mathematical bent, sent me this chart:
If you apply for 20 jobs:
With a 1% chance of getting each of them, you have an 18.2% chance of getting at least one of them
With a 2% chance, 33.2%
With a 3% chance, 45.6%
With a 4% chance, 55.7%
With a 5% chance, 64.1%
With a 10% chance, 87.8%
If you apply for 50 jobs:
With a 1% chance of getting each of them, you have a 39.5% chance of getting at least one of them
With a 2% chance, 63.6%
With a 3% chance, 78.2%
With a 4% chance, 87.0%
With a 5% chance, 92.3%
With a 10% chance, 99.5%
If you apply for 100 jobs:
With a 1% chance of getting each of them, you have a 63.4% chance of getting at least one of them
With a 2% chance, 86.7%
With a 3% chance, 95.2%
With a 4% chance, 98.3%
With a 5% chance, 99.4%
With a 10% chance, 99.997%
If you apply for 200 jobs:
With a 1% chance of getting each of them, you have a 86.6% chance of getting at least one of them
With a 2% chance, 98.2%
With a 3% chance, 99.8%
With a 4% chance, 99.97%
With a 5% chance, 99.996%
If you apply for 500 jobs:
With a 1% chance of getting each of them, you have a 99.3% chance of getting at least one of them
With a 2% chance, 99.996%
With a 3% chance, 99.99998%
It is handy having friends who know these things . As you can see, if you are even with a hint of a chance, getting a job is a simple matter of plugging away.
Persistence, that is the key. I am just frustrated by two things. One is the imminence of Christmas, which means that corporate decision making is grinding to a halt. The second is ‘just missing out’. Many of the jobs I am going for have a fairly heavy interview and assessment process, and it is dispiriting to go through five hours of testing, knowing you’ve got further then 85% of the candidates going for the positions, and just missing out.
It is also hard to work out how to give the buggers what they are asking for. I find it hard to deal with recruitment agencies- I sense that what they are after is not always on the table. The hidden agenda, you can smell it in the air, and I feel like I can not get a grip on what it is.
And I am applying for jobs in two distinct sorts of fields. This means that there are two sorts of attitudes, two sets of expectations, two mind-sets to adopt. A frustrating and difficult experience.
I’ll be okay. It is just a matter of persistence and determination. A test of character, perhaps. That may be so, but it is a test I did not really feel like taking just now. Still, there is always old Theodore Rooselvelt to fall back on:
Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.