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How Do You Measure Job Search Success?

From Career Tips, 2011 Volume 2, February

"Duh...when I get a job I love, that pays me what I deserve!"
Not so fast. How do you measure your progress towards that goal?

"That's easy. How many interviews I'm landing."

Making your number of interviews the primary metric for job search success is a recipe for frustration and substandard job search performance.

Many in a job search get stuck in busy mode, working hard all week long on their search, but not knowing whether what they are doing is getting them where they need to go, or at the rate it should be. I'm convinced much of this is due to measuring the wrong things, or not even knowing what they should be measuring.

I want you to give some careful thought to all of the things you could do that might ultimately lead to those interviews, and how you might measure them. Examine which are the mission critical activities to move your search forward - the ones that deserve a lot of attention and energy. That way you can establish a base line of actions you are taking, evaluate how well you are doing, challenge yourself to raise that base line, and actually take steps regularly on items under your control that will lead to greater success in that end goal over which you have little direct control.

Let's take one example - networking. Almost everyone agrees that networking is a crucial element of any search, and the activity with the highest potential payoff in gaining interviews and getting you a closer examination in those interviews. In fact, my own experience is that for every job I've ever taken, from my first entry level actuarial student role to my next 'dream job' to my wildly successful systems consulting assignment (that launched a new career for me), networking played a critical role.

So what metrics could you establish to measure your level of success in networking? Here are a few:
  • Number of networking events you attend per month.
  • Number of new contacts made at networking events
  • Number of those new contacts who agree to have 1-on-1 networking meetings with you. (After all, that's the TRUE, CORE networking - how solid a relationship and helpmate can you develop just from chatting with someone for a few minutes at a group event?)
  • Number of 1-on-1 networking meetings you have per week.
  • Number of calls you make per week to attempt to get 1-on-1 networking meetings.
  • Number of referrals you receive per 1-on-1 networking meeting.

    Just by tracking these few items, you could start to tell:
  • How effective am I at networking events?
  • Are certain events more effective for me than others?
  • How many calls do I need to make per week to achieve my target level of meetings?
  • How effective are my 1-on-1 meetings?

    Obviously you could take these to much deeper levels, and you would learn volumes about what you could do to improve the results of your networking. You would also be able to set targets and challenge yourself to do better. And as you experimented with different strategies, you would be able to immediately see the impact.

    As 2011 progresses, I'll dig deeper into different areas of the job search, and how you might set up metrics for them. Send me your thoughts on what metrics you would use, and I'll incorporate those as well.

    And for those of you who are really serious about improving your performance, here's your challenge:
    1. In the next week, using the samples above for networking as a starting point, decide on the best networking metrics for your own situation.
    2. Set specific targets for those metrics, and write them down in an email to me at Advice@JHACareers.com.
    3. Track your actual results throughout the next month, and send me your weekly results each Friday.
    I guarantee that putting an increased focus on the metrics and tracking them will bring you insights that will move you forward! And even if you don't fully achieve the targets you established, you will see your 'hit rates' towards those targets rising.


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