The Formula for Successful Job Search

Posted by Bob Wheeler

Finding a job can be a challenge. Transitioning from one industry to another is an even bigger challenge, especially if you’re a veteran. Building and maintaining your network makes that challenge easier. I’m going to show you how through the wonders of math.

Now math is the main reason I went into Recruiting, so I’m no Einstein. But I believe this theorem captures the relationship between the three aspects of job search.

Job Search TheoremWalk through the following exercise for a job you recently applied for. You’ll see how networking exponentially improves your job search success.


These are specific things such as industry certifications, formal education, or other specific requirements of the position. If a requirement is absolute and you don’t have that requirement – for example a nursing license or a driver’s license – give yourself zero. And that means your final score is zero.  Score yourself from the following:

5 – Formal training greatly exceeds requirements or training.

4 –  Above average formal training

3 – Requirements and expectations are met

2 – Some formal training, but less than  expected or desired

1 – No formal training, degree or certifications in the field, but no absolute requirements

0 – One or more absolute requirements are not met


If you have experience similar to the position you’re applying for or if you have documented results that are relevant. Getting a zero here is if you have had complete failure. Think Edward Snowden applying for a job at NSA.

5 – Worked successfully in a similar job with documented results that greatly exceeded expectations

4 – Documented success in a similar position

3 – You’ve worked in a very similar position

2 – You have no direct experience, but have been successful in similar jobs

1 – No experience in the job, nor any true similar experience

0 – You have made mistakes in the field that are public knowledge


Points are awarded dependent on whether the connection is close to the industry or organization, and the strength of your relationship to the connection. Quality most certainly trumps quantity. These connections will not necessarily give you a job. Their power is in their industry knowledge and connections as well as their understanding of who to talk to and when. Having someone on the inside who can refer you and vouch for your results is priceless.

Sure a zero score is possible. We’ve all heard, “It’s all about who you know.” But that isn’t always the case. If who you know thinks you’re a jerk that kills most any other positive factors you have going for you.

5 – Someone you know and have connected with in the company can vouch for you both personally and professionally.

4 – You have connected with someone in the company.

3 – You have connected with someone in the industry.

2 – You have knowledge of people in the industry but have not connected

1 – No knowledge of anyone in the industry

0 – People you know have a negative view of you or your work 

The Relationship Between Requirements and Experiences

Let’s walk through some specific examples:

  • A Job seeker without formal training, formal training or knowledge of anyone in the industry. One point
  • A Job seeker who has minimal training and some similar work experience, but no knowledge of anyone in the industry. Four points
  • A Job seeker who has an undergraduate degree and certifications, but no work experience and no network. Eight points.
  • A Job seeker with a master’s degree and certifications, has somewhat similar work experience, but no network. Ten points.

The Power of the Network

This is where things get interesting:

  • A Job seeker has some training and similar work experience, has contacts in the industry, but not the organization. 64 points
  • A Job seeker meets the job requirements, has worked in a similar position and has industry connections, but not within the organization. 216 points
  • A Job seeker meets requirements, has successfully worked in a similar position and has a basic relationship with someone who works at the company. 1,296 points
  • A Job seeker meets requirements, has been successful in a similar position, and is known by folks in the organization to be a good fit and to have produced results in the past. 59,040 points

What Does It All Mean

Each aspect of this job search theorem is important. But job seekers should step back and consider whether they are focusing their efforts where they can get the most bang for their buck. Another cert may not overcome a lack of experience, although if it’s a common contract requirement in your field you better get it.

The real story here and the real force multiplier is developing and maintaining relationships with people at multiple organizations in your industry. It takes time and effort to build that type of network, but it pays off.

Always make that effort to say hello. Always reach out. Always offer assistance.

Fun Fact: 9,765,625. That’s the maximum score possible. A job seeker who greatly exceeds requirements, has documented success well above expectations and who has a personal relationship with someone inside the organization.

Bob WheelerBob Wheeler is a ClearedJobs.Net Account Manager, a Navy veteran, a former recruiter and a certified veteran transition coach. You may reach Bob at [email protected].


This entry was posted on Thursday, March 17, 2016 9:41 am

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