Huffpost Business
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Sudy Bharadwaj Headshot

Forget The Unemployment Rate: Three Numbers That Matter In Job Search

Posted: Updated:

Job seekers and employers alike anxiously awaited the declaration of the July jobless numbers only to be disappointed by what was announced. Yes, employers added 163,000 jobs, which was the largest payroll gain since February and much higher than the 95,000 economists forecast, but the unemployment rate still rose from 8.2 to 8.3 percent. Job seekers everywhere emitted downtrodden sighs as they heavily slumped into their desk chairs to begin yet another seemingly endless day of job searching, and employers grumbled over their morning cups of coffee as they prepared to be blamed for lackluster performance.

As a society confronted with challenging economic times, we focus so much attention on the unemployment rate -- stock prices rise and fall and political action committees create advertisements demeaning or praising candidates. But the unemployment rate is just a number; sometimes it's favorable, and sometimes, like now, it's less than favorable. So while job seekers and employers should certainly be aware of what the current unemployment rate is, it's not a number that is going to help anyone find or create openings and schedule interviews.

Neither will focusing on the number of unemployed men, women, and teens; the number of people out of work because they were laid off as opposed to quitting; the number of folks who can only find part-time work; or the number of professionals who are underemployed.

Professionals successful in finding jobs and employers successful in filling them are those who pay little attention to the unemployment rate and instead focus their attention on numbers that actually matter in the job search. Numbers like those outlined below:

Number Of Positions Job Seekers Have Held

Recent college graduates are turned away from employment because they've held too few jobs. Professionals who have held several jobs in short bouts of time (aka job-hoppers) are passed on because they've held too many. For job seekers, today's job search seems like employer's grossly unfair version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Professionals successful in today's job search know how to leverage their number of jobs to make them look favorable in any situation. Young job seekers can highlight work potential, and job-hoppers can emphasize transferable skills and desire to find work fulfillment instead of a paycheck.

Employers finding the best candidates to fill positions can take a job seekers' number of jobs into consideration, but ultimately need to care more for experience gained and results delivered, even if it means hiring a job seeker with one previous position or one with several in a short amount of time.

Number Of Measurable Accomplishments On A Resume

Excluding numbers on a resume is one of the most common and most damning job search mistakes. Employers know (and job seekers should learn) that injecting industry keywords and tailoring resumes for each position is worthless if job seekers don't include measurable accomplishments on their resumes.

Professionals that have been successful in the job search have included several measurable accomplishments for each position listed on their resume. Measurable accomplishments can be broken down into two categories: scope and results. Measurable accomplishments of scope include numbers like how often a job seeker completed a task or how many tasks he completed daily. Results, the more obvious measurable accomplishments, are those that are quantifiable -- perhaps the job seeker brought in $20,000 in new business to his old company within the first month.

Employers successful in filling positions today pay close attention to the amount of measurable accomplishments included on a resume. Each position should include at least one, but four measurable accomplishments per position is the norm.

Number Of Meaningful Connections

So you're a job seeker with 2,000 Twitter followers and 500+ LinkedIn connections, but none of them are helpful in your job search? Perhaps it's time you had a refresher on quality vs. quantity connections.

Professionals successful in the job search pay little attention to accumulating high numbers of network connections and pay more attention to the number of meaningful connections they have. Meaningful connections are those who tip job seekers off to new work opportunities, invite them to networking events, introduce them to shared connections, and write thought-provoking, favorable references. Successful professionals leverage meaningful connections to make job searching much less of a hassle. They try to check in with at least five network connections each week (one per day) and establish ongoing, mutually beneficial communication with a few key connections.

Employers finding the best candidates today always bypass quantity and look for quality interactions between the job seeker and his connections. This can mean anything from reading references on a LinkedIn page to understand if the recommender has a good relationship with the job seeker to skimming through Twitter followers to see if the job seeker is reaching interested connections as opposed by lifeless bots.

Job seekers and employers, keep a sharp eye on the unemployment rate, but don't let it alter ambition or govern job search efforts. There are many more important numbers that actually matter in the job search.

I want to hear your ideas. What are some other numbers that really matter in the job search?