Like they say, a picture is worth a 1000 words.

(Source:  The Little Greybook of Recruiting Benchmarks, Lever,

I stumbled across this graph which kind of says it all. It’s from a company that creates recruitment software.

What do the numbers mean exactly and what does this mean for you?

Let’s take a look.


The absolute worse method to land a job

I’m assuming that “Applied” means that the candidate has sent their résumé to the employer via their website or a job board where they posted a job description.

This is the most common method to find candidates but the least efficient.

It takes 152 applicants to hire just 1 candidate.

While employers rely heavily on online applications, if you focus on this job search strategy, you will have a mere 0.006% chance of actually getting the job this way.

Well, that’s depressing! Which is why jobseekers are totally frustrated with the hiring process – they’re relying too much on this approach.

If you are relying on applying to jobs online, my recommendation to you is to CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY since this is clearly the least effective method.

I’ve known this all along, but the numbers really drive the point home.


2.5X better than applying to jobs

I’m assuming that “Sourced” means that the employer is proactively looking for candidates themselves, either via Linkedin, their own database (typically the ATS), and job boards.

This is the second most common way for companies to find talent. I guess when they realize that the ATS isn’t doing it for them, they need to take matters into their own hands.

It takes 72 applicants to hire 1 candidate.

While this method is about 2.5X better than applying to jobs, it still gives the candidate only a 0.014 % chance of landing the job.

However, you won’t get the job this way unless you are easy to find online because that’s where the employer is going to find candidates.

You could post your résumé on job boards but this is very hit and miss. You will need a stand-out résumé that’s going to come up in a database search, since the job board uses computer bots to search, scan, score, and rank résumés.

A better strategy is to have a compelling, keyword-rich, and finely targeted Linkedin profile that you have properly optimized for your target field since most recruiters and hiring managers find candidates this way.


7.5X better than applying to jobs online

I’m assuming that “Agency” means that the employer has engaged a third-party agency recruiter to source, qualify, and present what they feel are best-match candidates for the open positions they are trying to fill.

I used to be an agency recruiter and will agree that this is definitely a better way for employers to find suitable candidates, provided that the recruiter is good at what they do.

It just isn’t the best way for the candidate to land the job which I explain farther down the page and in a previous article you can read here.

It takes 22 job applicants to hire 1 candidate for the job.

If you have aligned yourself with a good recruiter who ideally specializes in your target field, you will have about a 0.045% chance of getting the job this way.

Not a great number, but still way better than applying to jobs online.

But here is where the problem comes in with relying on recruiters to “find you a job”.

They don’t “find you a job” – they are paid by the employer to find an exact match for a specific role so unless you are the “perfect fit” in every way, don’t expect to secure a job this way.

Read this article I wrote about using a recruiter for your job search.



(drum roll, please)



10X better than applying to jobs online

I’m assuming that “Referral” means that the employer is finding candidates through an employee referral program or through contacts they know in the industry, excluding recruiters who would fall under the “Agency” category.

It takes 16 job applicants to hire 1 candidate.

You would have about a 0.062% chance of getting the interview by focusing your efforts on being “referred” which requires networking.

To be honest, this stat does not surprise me at all. I’ve been telling candidates for YEARS to focus on networking to uncover jobs (many of which are NOT advertised) and to generate informational meetings as opposed to interviews.

So, if I were you, I would shift my efforts from applying to jobs online to networking which would include getting in front of as many hiring managers as you can and also asking for referrals.

The networking/referral philosophy is that someone knows someone who know someone who needs someone like you.

It’s a numbers game – the more people you reach out to, the more chance you have of getting the job.

Click on this link to learn more about getting a job through networking.

Why the alarmingly low numbers are GOOD news for you!

When I first saw the numbers, I was initially shocked but regrettably, not surprised.

Even in the best case scenario, only 1 person will be hired out of 16 referred applicants.

But there’s a reason behind the low numbers that you can improve if you are approaching your job search strategically.

But let’s first look at the why behind the low numbers

In the case of the Referral scenario, the employer is waiting on their employees and other contacts to refer someone for the role.

Just because someone is referred doesn’t mean they’re a strong fit for the role which probably accounts for only 1 in 16 being hired – the other 15 are NOT qualified.

Let’s face it – unless the person doing the referring is a professional recruiter, the “referee”  isn’t  properly qualifying the candidate.  They’re just trying to be helpful or are looking to get paid a referral fee.

If more of the referred candidates were actually qualified, then the stat might be 1 out of 5.

This is why most employers still rely on online job applications. It’s a passive way to generate a huge amount of potential talent although it’s clearly the least efficient since they need to generate 152 applicants to get 1 hire.

Here’s where YOU can 10X your job landing success!

Focus your energies on networking to uncover potential job opportunities and to generate informational meetings as part of a career research and networking strategy.

To be that 1 person out of 16 who gets the job, you must be able to communicate your unique value proposition so that if the employer has an opening, they would consider you.

If the employer doesn’t have an opening, they might be willing to recommend you to someone else based on how you have positioned yourself during that informational meeting.

It’s a numbers game

Like I said before – those 15 other candidates were either NOT qualified for the job or they were, but they didn’t know how to sell themselves for the job, either through their career marketing collateral or interview.

When you do have the qualifications or at least know how to sell yourself for a job (even if you lack some qualifications), you can increase your odds considerably.

It’s all in your positioning

The more you do your research and understand what your target market (i.e. employer/industry) wants and needs, the more you can position yourself effectively so that there is a perceived “fit”.

It all comes down to how effectively you sell yourself which most people can’t do.

Does that make sense?

Avoid the ATS

While you should use all methods to find a job, I would advise that you DON’T rely on the ATS as your prime job landing strategy.

The ATS is a total shit show and ends up filtering out MORE qualified candidates than it does filtering them in.

The prime reason is that the résumés are typically not ATS-friendly and are not selling the candidate effectively for the jobs which goes beyond not using the right keywords.

Click here to read the article about the ATS

Click here to download the ATS Checklist “Top 40 Ways to Help Your Resume Beat the Computer ATS and Attract Interviews”

So, if the ATS is broken, why do companies use it?

It’s considered an “easy” way to attract hundreds of potential candidates that the system can then filter down to a select few who have EXACTLY what they are looking for. Or at least, that’s the objective. The reality is often the complete opposite.

Need some help????

I highly recommend you retain the services of a career professional to help you position and sell yourself for a job search. One wrong move can get you disqualified from the running. Feel free to contact me here.

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Hi!  I’m Diana.

I leverage over 14 years recruitment and sales/marketing experience to create attention-grabbing résumés, cover letters, and Linkedin profiles that help job seekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired. You can learn more about my story here and about how I can help you here.

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