Lessons Learned from Submitting 444 Applications to Land One Awesome Job: A Senior Account Executive’s Journey from Laid-Off to Employed

This is a follow-up to my post, “How to Get a Job in a Lay-off Market,” where I discussed Gary’s* job search after being laid off from a behemoth technology company.

Gary’s story exemplifies the challenges many professionals face when unexpectedly laid off and the resilience required to successfully navigate a competitive job market.

Fortunately, after a grueling job search that spanned 6 months, hit a speed bump for several months with joining the wrong company, and then continued for another few months, Gary finally landed an exciting new role at a leading tech company.

The process was arduous, with 444 applications submitted, 34 interview processes navigated (7.7% of applications), and only 3 offers received (0.68% success rate).

However, this experience taught him invaluable lessons he’d like to share.

Lesson 1: The Power of Gratitude and Follow-Up

One key takeaway from Gary’s journey is the importance of expressing gratitude and following up with hiring managers and recruiters, even after rejection.

The role he ultimately accepted came about through persistent, thoughtful follow-ups with a recruiter who had initially rejected him for a different position back in September 2023. (As an aside, this rejection catalyzed him to join the wrong company for several months, a topic we might unpack in another post).

While most recruiters send generic “keep in touch” emails, Gary consciously maintained meaningful communication with those at his top target companies. This approach paid off, as several recruiters went the extra mile to ping relevant teams internally on his behalf.

Lesson 2: Specialization is Crucial

During his search, Gary resisted the temptation to apply for roles across different disciplines, recognizing the challenges of maintaining multiple versions of a resume and preparing for vastly different interview scenarios.

Interviews are already highly competitive, and attempting to present himself as a generalist would have been a significant disadvantage.

Lesson 3: Focus and Persistence with Target Companies

One of the most significant lessons Gary learned was the importance of heavily investing time and effort into a select group of “focus” companies.

For larger organizations, he applied to no more than three roles per month and halted applications if he entered an active interview process with that company.

To illustrate the level of persistence required, Gary applied to the tech company he landed with a total of 17 times before securing two interview processes and ultimately receiving an offer.

He submitted 41 applications to Microsoft alone, resulting in two interview processes.

Beyond simple applications, Gary leveraged his network extensively within his focus companies, targeting recruiters, peers in similar roles, former colleagues, hiring managers, and even friends or acquaintances who worked for these organizations but lived in his area.

How These Lessons Apply to Your Search

The good news is that Gary’s tenacity finally paid off, resulting in a well-aligned role with good pay at a solid company, where he will thrive.

And you can, too!

While the job search process is challenging, Gary’s lessons should help you refine your strategy for maximum results.

Persistence, focus, and gratitude for those involved in the hiring process are instrumental in achieving success.

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