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Job Search Conventional Wisdom #Fail

This post from a reader of Andrew Sullivan’s Atlantic blog recycles a few pieces of irritating job search conventional wisdom. The first:

The old nostrum that “if a job is posted, it’s been filled” is generally true.

And another:

The reality is that 80% of jobs are filled via personal connections and relationships.

What drives me crazy about both of these sentiments is how unsubstantiated they are. Because they’re repeated so often, people are inclined to accept them, but I think they’re at best unhelpful.

Let’s start with the first. I’ve been a corporate recruiter for 6 years.  I’ll estimate that during that time I’ve filled about 425 positions.  And maybe 25 of those positions were filled with a pre-identified candidate, someone the hiring manager had in mind prior to the posting.

By no means is my experience universal. But at the same time I’m confident in saying that my experience is also not exceptional. So at best, I’m comfortable with the modified statement “if a job is posted, there’s a small chance it’s been filled.”

And now the second.  I don’t know if the 80% statistic is true (although note the lack of a source), but even if it is, so what? Aren’t those other 20% filled in another way? As it turns out, I’m currently in that 20% – I got my current job by applying for it online.  So I’ll take the 1 in 5 chances, particularly given how easy it is to apply for jobs online.

I guess what really gets to me about this kind of job search advice is the absolutism of it. I’m willing to accept that more people are hired through their relationships, but I think applying for jobs based on advertisements is an important part of a job search.  Because those ads represent actual jobs. And “networking” is, by its definition, at least a step removed from an actual job. Otherwise it would be called interviewing.

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