Thursday, November 05, 2009

Efficiency and Effectiveness in Hunting for a Job

Alpaca is still looking for a job - it's been a few months now, which is not surprising in these economically challenging times. On Tuesday I met for breakfast with an old friend who works for a venture capital firm. We were chatting about our families and I mentioned Alpaca's job hunt. My friend immediately asked what kind of job she was looking for, and after I explained he asked me to forward her resume to him by email. I did, and a few hours later he sent an e-mail introducing Alpaca to all the partners in his well respected VC firm. Later that day, one of the partners sent Alpaca an e-mail. Yesterday they spoke on the phone and a few hours later he introduced her by e-mail to the CEO of one of their portfolio companies that had recently raised funds and that was looking for help on the marketing side. I don't know if this will end in anything concrete, but it's definitely a step in the right direction, yes?

Saying that networking is the key to finding a job is an old cliche, but that doesn't make it any less true. Which belatedly brings me to the topic of this post: in business school I took a class in building distribution channels. The professor explained that making your sales targets is largely the function of two parameters: (i) the efficiency of your sales channel; and (ii) its effectiveness. Efficiency is the number of customer contacts you make - or how many sales calls you make. Your effectiveness is a measure of how successful you are in converting each customer contact. Calculating your success is a simple multiplication exercise: how many customer contacts you have, multiplied by your success rate with each contact.

Today it struck me that success in a job search is subject to the exact same performance metrics. Your success is a combination of the number of job interviews you land (or the number of random networking contacts you make), and of your ability to convert those interviews (or random networking contacts) into job offers.

The implication for this is simple: you just need to be out there and meet with as many people as possible. Even if you are a particularly poor batter, if you take enough swings sooner or later you will hit a home run. The important thing is to keep swinging no matter how many times you miss the ball.

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Rob Bennett said...

Even if you are a particularly poor batter, if you take enough swings sooner or later you will hit a home run. The important thing is to keep swinging no matter how many times you miss the ball.

I think you are right about this, Shadox.

It's very hard to pull off, however. When hitting a home run means the difference between maintaining your lifestyle and your pride in yourself or going into poverty and feeling great shame, each swing of the bat is an emotional experience. When you have already struck out hundreds of times, it gets hard to swing the bat again knowing how much it is going to hurt.

Paradoxically, job seekers need to find a way to care less about the results of their efforts in order to have more success. If they cared less, they could keep on swinging and would eventually connect.


Shadox said...

Rob - you are absolutely correct. My post completely ignores the emotional issues involved here and they are big ones. Many of the folks that have been looking for a job for months are getting depressed and discouraged. They view their lack of ability to land a job as being a personal fault, even if they are doing everything right.

looking for a job for months on end without result is tough. Really tough.

I agree that job seekers would be better off if they were able to look at the situation objectively and dispassionately, of course this is easier said than done. We are human...

Frank Polenose said...

In the UK we have many organisations striking at the moment which frustrates me so much as there are many that would happily take their job. All wrong.
Frank @ Debt Advice

Shadox said...

Nothing wrong with strikes if they are for the right reasons. What frustrates me are union strikes that: (i) demand more money in a severely down economy; (ii) demands for "work rules", i.e. limiting management's ability to run the company or be competitive, ultimately leading to the company's down-fall (a-la the Detroit car companies).

Not sure why unions have such a self destructive, near sighted mentality, but there you have it.

Anonymous said...

I think it is important to include a third factor in your model - luck. Ever hear about those people who come across the right stranger that helps them out? At the end, it only takes one person or one offer. If you find what you are looking for in a matter of hours when others take months or even years, you got very lucky...

Let's not forget that success with the job search process tends to involve factors that are out of your control.

Shadox said...

Hey - like Napoleon said: "give me a lucky general!". Luck is always a good thing.

Of course, there is much you can do to help luck find you. The more people you meet, and the more you swing the bat, the higher the chance that you will eventually connect with the ball and hit that home run.

Efficiency is luck's best friend, while Effectiveness is all about brains and skills. :-)