In December 2007, which marked the start of the recession, there were 1.7 candidates for every job opening. By March 2009, the number of unemployed workers had increased to 13.2 million, which translates to 4.8 unemployed workers for every available job. Of course, those stats don't come close to estimating how many candidates might initially submit an application or a resume. Instead, they reflect the overall statistical odds job seekers face in the market.

No matter how tough things may seem, it's still possible to turn the odds in your favor by following a few best practices guaranteed to narrow the competitive field for any job.

  • Follow Up: You may start out a job search with hundreds of competitors. But over time, most of them will stop following-up, eliminating themselves from the selection process. So, after each stage of the process - from submitting your resume to having the final interview - follow up at least three times until you're confirmed for the next step. Allow 24 hours between contacts.
  • Know Three Influencers: Build relationships with at least three contacts at the company and you'll significantly increase your odds of being hired. In fact, the more people you know, the better your odds. The hiring manager, a recruiter and a peer would be ideal, because you'll know key decision makers or influencers at every level of the organization.
  • Sell your value: Most techies will push their skills, but you can reset the bar for the entire field by selling your value. Describe your accomplishments, the results you've achieved, and your impact on the business to narrow the number of real competitors you face for each position.


-- Leslie Stevens-Huffman