Job Hunt: Lottery or Hustle (and the importance of networking)

Let’s walk through a job hunt analogy.

Imagine that there’s a prize you want. Say a laptop worth $1,000. To win that laptop, you have two options to choose from:

Option 1: Lottery

  • Spend 30 minutes (doing something – I’ll clarify that later)
  • After doing that “something” you get a lottery ticket with 20% of the results influenced on how good you are at that “something”
  • That lottery ticket would have odds ranging anywhere from a:
    • 1 in 50 to a
    • 1 in 1,000
    • chance of winning the prize

Option 2: Hustle

  • Spend 60 minutes (doing something – different than the first something) this time it’s with someone
  • After doing that “something” you get some feedback. Sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly.
  • That feedback could result in a few possibilities with 80% of the results influenced on how good you are at that “something”:
    • Absolutely nothing (which will probably if you’re not good at “something”)
    • That person giving you the prize (yay, new laptop!)
    • That person connecting you with someone who might be able to help get you the prize (another person to connect with)
    • That person giving you a different but similarly valued prize (let’s say a tablet that’s similar)
    • That person giving you some value based on how well you did the “something”
      • that will value will help you buy your own prize on your own in the future
      • let’s say $14 which is the minimum wage in Ontario, Canada,
      • but could be more anywhere up to the $1,000 cost of the laptop
      • Plus if you spend an additional 30 minutes doing that “something” with the same person in the future, that value could increase

The choice

Now you want to win the prize, and let’s say you have 8 hours to spend (that is 16 opportunities for option 1 and 8 for option 2). You must spend all 8 hours on only one of the options. Which option do you pick?

The considerations

What if I told you that

  • the prize is a job
  • the first option is applying online
  • the second option is networking an building meaningful connections

Option 1: applying online – the lottery

Applying online is the “simpler” option. It is the more “efficient” option.  And at the same time, is very much like a lottery. There can be 50 to 1,000 people applying for a single role (especially with the “instant apply” features provided on many job boards).

The trap (just like in buying a real lottery ticket or gambling in general) is that each application is an independent event. That means that whether you apply to 1 or 100 jobs, each of the outcomes does NOT influence the other. Put another way, if you were at a casino and were playing roulette and numbers come out: black, black, black, black, black. The next one must be red, right? if you believe that, then please don’t head to a casino.

I would argue that the opposite is true. If you apply for more jobs, with the exact same application and you don’t get the interview, the likelihood for you to not get the interview increases since if it’s a bad resume, it’s probably a bad resume.

Keep in mind that applying online does work. Although there are multiple factors at play. Whether your particular experience fits. Whether there are more qualified candidates that happen to be applying. Whether there is a candidate already up for consideration. And more will impact the outcome.

Option 2: building meaningful connections – the hustle

Networking and Building Meaningful Connections (BMC) takes more time. In my opinion, it is the more “effective” option. And at the same time, it is a skill. Fortunately, it’s a skill that can be developed. At first, you might not be very good, and not much comes out of the conversation. However, when you start improving your skills focused on adding value to the other person, then the jobs start to come to you. It might be a connection to someone else. It might be to stay connected so that you’ll be in the front of the line for when a position does open up. It might be creating a job that doesn’t even exist because they need what you offer. Or just a small deposit in their “social capital and goodwill” bank account that is an investment that may (or may not) payout later.

Sure there are timing and circumstances that might work against you even if you’re a great fit for the role. Those challenges tend to be magnified when applying online, and reduced when BMC’ing.

How will you approach your job hunt?

Hopefully, this analogy changes your perspective on the importance of BMC in your job hunt.

Keep in mind, that I don’t suggest to never apply online. I would just balance the time you do have to be as effective as possible. So if you do have 8 hours to spend, perhaps start with 50/50 online/BMC then get it to 40/60, 30/70, and I’d encourage you to get to 20/80.

If you’re still having trouble with the job hunt, feel free to connect and I’ll do my best to help 

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