Send fewer resumes, get more interviews

Conventional job search wisdom tells us that we need to apply for as many jobs as possible in order to increase our chances of getting an interview. The job market is flooded with people looking for work, companies can afford to choose only the most highly qualified candidates, and job seekers need to pump out as many applications as possible to stay afloat in the murky waters of competition.

What if I had evidence that this conventional job wisdom was wrong? What if I told you that it’s possible to send out fewer resumes, and get more interviews? It may sound like a paradox, but fortunately I have some data from my own job search to back this up. This blog post will discuss the golden ratio of job applications (it exists, trust me…), and suggests an optimized job search methodology that will get you hired faster.

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What I’ve learned from 30 days of job hacking

I started this blog just over a month ago today. Since then, I’ve really pushed myself to use all of the methods I’ve shared to improve my own job search in the hopes of starting the new year with lots of employment leads and interviews. So far, I’d have to say it’s been a success. Lets review the main ideas of job hacking, and see what I’ve learned from each:

1. Creating an online portfolio to showcase your work – I’ve had a portfolio for a while, but writing this blog encouraged me to kick things up a notch and go the extra mile with SEO optimization and tweaking my HTML and CSS code to make the site look and feel smooth and professional. Since my website is one page, I also added a Google Analytics event tracker that reports every time someone clicks a work sample on my portfolio. This was to offset the high bounce rate (% of people who leave page immediately) I was getting for all visitors, which is a common problem with one page websites or blogs. Most web analytics services rely on internal link clicks to track time on page, and since there are no internal links on a one page website when visitors exit the page the platform has no way of knowing how long the visit lasted. I’ll talk more about common issues with web analytics reporting and metrics in the future, but for now just know that a high bounce rate isn’t always indicative of visitors leaving your site immediately (a very bad thing indeed).

portflio-html-picture

Behold, the guts of my portfolio

2. Using UTM codes to track employer interest in your resume – This has been the most helpful and rewarding thing I’ve done, since I can now see exactly who is visiting my website. While not all visits result in an interview request, just knowing that my work is being considered is a huge psychological boost. Sending out applications and never hearing a thing back is one of the most frustrating things to deal with, and often leads to people feeling helpless and trapped. If you have any kind of online presence, start doing this already!

3. Segmenting your data to uncover job search insights – This has been the second most helpful technique I’ve learned, and has resulted in a greater understanding an appreciation of my Google Analytics dashboard and custom reporting. I’ve uncovered all kinds of weird tidbits of data, like the fact that I have a very dedicated fan in one of the international offices of a company that I applied to (but no call as of yet – don’t be shy anonymous fan!), or that most of my search traffic comes from the phrase “Ian Barnard design”, who is actually another dude in the UK who does amazing typography work. If I were selling a product, knowing the keywords that people were using to search for my website (even those that were sending bad traffic) would be a huge advantage. Sadly, the only product I’m only selling here is my skills…

4. Using A/B testing to perfect your resume and cover letter – The most difficult by far, mainly due to incomplete data. I can rig my applications to the hilt with UTM trackers, but it won’t stop someone who is reading my resume from just typing my URL directly into their browser, which will be logged as a direct visit. I have no way of knowing how many visitors are doing this, and it results in an incomplete data set which makes getting a sample size large enough to be statistically significant difficult. I still really like this idea though, and will work on ways to improve this – if anyone has any suggestions or tips, I’m all ears!


All in all, I’m very pleased with the results. I’m happy to report I’ve had interest and received calls from some great employers, and that these methods have proven to be a great way of showcasing my skills. Wish me luck for the coming weeks, and if you have any questions or want to chat about how these methods can help you in your job search, leave a comment or use the contact info on my portfolio.

I’d also like a give a quick thank-you to all the visitors and WordPress followers who’ve come to the blog in the past month! As of today (January 9, 2014) Job Hacking has had just under 150 visitors and 240 views, which is amazing. I’ve got some cool ideas to share in the near future, and I hope you continue to find the articles interesting and useful!

Segment your data: creating valuable insights for your job search

Building on the previous Job Hacking blog posts where we use UTM trackers and A/B testing techniques to track interest from potential employers in our applications, lets now look at how to configure Google Analytics to take the data we’re gathering and turn it into meaningful insights. This blog post will explain how to segment your job search data and set up custom reports that give you the information you need quickly and effectively.

You’ve tagged your links, created specific campaigns for a group of resumes and applications, and have sent them out to prospective employers. Logging into your Google Analytics account tied to your online portfolio or website, you see that you’re getting visitors – awesome! People are clicking the links, which means they’re interested in finding out more about your skills and experience. The next question is, who is checking you out?

Google Analytics default home screen

Google Analytics’ default view

At first glance, this looks great. Over 30 sessions, 26 unique visitors, nearly all of which are new visits from English speaking people (nothing against Russian speakers, but if I’m applying for jobs in Canada my applications shouldn’t be getting many visitors from overseas). On the other hand, it doesn’t show me any of the information that would be helpful to my job search, such as which employers are checking me out. To fix this, we can segment our data to show visits that originate from the geographic area of our job search campaign.

To show sessions from visits in your area, click the “+ Add Segment” outline directly underneath the Audience Overview report heading at the top of the page. Create a new segment using the Location field at the bottom of this list. Since I am applying for jobs in the Greater Toronto Area, I select City from the first drop-down menu, is one of for the second, and type in all the cities around me in the text box separated by hitting enter after each one. Hit Save, and you should see something like this:

Google Analytics segmented data view

Visits segmented by visitor location

Ah, this is better. The orange line now shows the visits from users in the specific locations I added to my segment. I can now see that most of my traffic is coming from inside the Greater Toronto Area, and therefore more relevant to my job search. Segments can be applied to any of the report views offered by Google Analytics, and are essential to understanding who is coming to your website. To read more about creating data segments, check out Google’s help page.

It’s great that I can see exactly where my visitors are located, but it still doesn’t tell me if those clicks are originating from my applications. We’ve spent a lot of time tagging our applications with UTM trackers, so lets put them to good use! Under the Acquisition section on the left menu, select the Campaigns report. Campaigns tracks visits from all clicks that have been tagged with a UTM tracker, in this case our job hunt campaign we’ve been embedding in all our resumes and cover letters.

Graph of Visits segmented by campaign

The gold: website visits by employers you’ve applied to

The primary dimension of this report is the Campaign Name field from the URL builder, which in our case is ‘Job Hunt’. Select the secondary dimension drop-down underneath, and choose Advertizing > Ad Content to add a second line that shows the Campaign Content field from the tracker, which in our case is the name of the employer (blurred out here for privacy). This is only possible if you’ve been diligent in filling out all the fields of your campaign, but the payoff is huge! I can now see exactly which companies have clicked the links to my work in my applications.

This is far more valuable than relying on Google Analytics’ default reporting, and a powerful source of information in your job search. Click the Shortcut button at the top of the report and the report is now available in your Shortcuts menu every time you log in.

By knowing exactly which companies are checking me out, I can see which applications are working and tailor future ones with more confidence. Next, we’ll explore how to dig deeper into our data and leverage our insights to become more proactive in our job hunt.

What kinds of segments will you use in your job search, and how will it help you improve your application process?