This is a critical number to be aware of while job searching. Why should you care, you ask?
If you knew you had many competitors, would you search for a job in the same way if you had few competitors? If you care about getting that job, you wouldn’t.
The importance of differentiation increases as the number of competitors increase.
The greater the number of competitors, the more time you would spend on each resume/application to research and customize, including what’s important to the specific company and individual hiring manager.
However, if you are using traditional job search techniques, then your job search tactics assume few competitors. Traditional job search is all about the low hanging fruit that existed when there were plentiful jobs. Traditional job search features little research or resume customization, instead focusing on volume. Why spend time researching and customizing when there were so many jobs? Why spend the time when employers were so starved for qualified applicants that they hired based on broad skills and trained new hires to fill in the gaps?
Traditional job search techniques were developed for times when there were fewer competitors for jobs. It’s tough to remember, but even though online job boards have been around since the mid-90’s, at first few job seekers used job boards and few employers advertized their jobs on job boards. Job boards have only made such an overwhelming impact in recent years.
This impact has been enough to dramatically change the number of competitors you face in recent years. The great recession and resulting restructuring of the workforce has helped as well.
There are 3 major forces that have impacted the number of average competitors you face:
- Ease of applying: Job boards have made it so easy to apply for jobs, that everyone applies – because there’s zero cost and practically zero time commitment.
- Proliferation of job boards: Any guesses how many job boards exist today? Would it shock you to learn that there are 50,000? That’s a whole lotta job boards.
- Job shortages: As the job market shifted from candidate shortages to job shortages, the number of applicants has exploded.
But the job market of today features job shortages rather than low hanging fruit. There’s no shortage of qualified candidates today … there’s a shortage of jobs.
Why you think employers, with reduced headcounts (and therefore, reduced training budgets), would plan on training new hires? Instead, because they realize that a large percentage of currently employed workers are searching (including passively), hiring managers believe they can find new hires that specifically match their needs. So they almost always pass on candidates who demonstrate that they only match some of their needs.
So back to competition numbers …
Ten years ago, the average number of competitors applying for each job … was about 100. Small companies averaged about 50 competitors for each job. Since many jobs were still advertised in the newspaper and a small fraction were advertised online, the number of job boards were a fraction of today’s numbers. Because many candidates still used newspapers as their primary source of job leads a decade ago, the average number of competitors for each job was still low.
Today, when you apply for a job that’s advertised online, you face an average 1,000 applicants. Even small companies advertising jobs on Craigslist regularly see 500 or more applicants.
If you think that because you are a senior executive that your competition is lower … you’re fooling yourself. When it takes so little time to apply for a job through a job board, why would the underqualified avoid applying for a job they obviously have no chance to get? Underqualified candidates believe “why not?” … They might get noticed for another job. And there’s practically no time investment to apply.
The job board SimplyHired has published research that 10 times more candidates apply for the average job than applied 10 years ago, giving support to the averages I listed above.
This figure should be eye opening … 1,000 average competitors.
How will you change your job search, now that you can clearly see your competition?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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