The 80/20 Rule in Your Job Search

What if I told you that 80% of what you’re doing every day in your job search is a total waste of time? Well, it’s true, according to the Pareto Principle.

Let me explain …

Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) was an Italian economist who found that 20% of the Italian people owned 80% of that country’s wealth. But what’s fascinating about his discovery, also called the 82/20 Rule, is that its implications go far beyond economics.


  • 20% of your carpeting gets 80% of the foot traffic
  • 20% of any sales force produces 80% of sales
  • 20% of your customers cause 80% of your problems, etc.

In other words, a small number of causes produce a large percentage of effects, in a ratio of about 20:80.

What does this mean for your job search?

About 20% of what you do accounts for 80% of your results. Conversely, 80% of what you’re doing to find a new job is producing only 20% of your results — it’s largely a waste of time.

So, to get hired faster, you must focus like a laser on the 20% of your actions that produce 80% of your employment leads. It’s that simple.

Here are three ways to do just that …

1) It’s the Network, Stupid

According to all the research I’ve done, the clients and seminar attendees I’ve spoken to over the years, and my own experience, up to 80% of job leads come from networking. (More on extreme guerrilla networking in a later post.)

Yet, where do most job seekers spend 80% of their time? Chasing after job postings online or in the help wanted ads. This is a mild form of mass insanity.

Bottom line: if you’re not spending up to 80% of your time expanding your network, talking daily to friends, colleagues, family and new contacts about the job you seek and the value you can deliver … you’re screwing up.

Turn it around. Change your priorities. Make time to network every day — starting today.

2) Begin Your Resume with Bold Strokes

Recognize that the opening lines of your resume must grab a reader by their lapels and force them to keep going. Typically, that has to happen within the first 3-5 seconds. Otherwise, you’ll lose out to more compelling candidates. Every time.

So, in the top 20% of page one, clearly tell employers what you can do for them and why you’re the one to do it. Back your claims with specific facts and figures that are easy for busy readers to grasp — no puffy language or empty assertions, please.

When you do this, and fire off your big guns early, you’ll be 80% of the way toward getting employers to read your entire resume … and call you for an interview.

If you use a Guerrilla Resume or Extreme Guerrilla Resume you have no room for  error because the 1-page format dictates exactly what goes where and why.

3) Make the Best First Impression at Every Interview

Where do 80% of your results in the job interview come from? You guessed it — the impression you make in first 1-2 minutes — the opening 20%.

Here’s good news: the first 20% of every interview is largely under your control. You decide what clothes to wear, how to groom yourself, when to leave so that you arrive on time, how to smile and shake hands, what opening words to say, questions to ask, etc.

So, prepare thoroughly and treat the opening 20% of your job interview like the golden opportunity it truly is.

OK. You understand the Pareto Principle and its effect on your job hunt. Now, here’s your homework assignment. Sit down and add up how you’ve spent your time over the past 5-10 days. What 20% of your activities have produced 80% of your employment leads? Do more of them. What 80% of your efforts have been unproductive? Stop doing them or delegate them.

The future is in your hands.


You can beat the system and “cherry pick” the job of your dreams in weeks instead of months … if you have the right information.  The same “insider” information you could have access to in just a few minutes through MyNewJobHunt.  Now you have a choice to make. You’re probably skeptical, but think about this — if you keep doing the same things over and over, you’ll keep getting the same results.  Don’t worry, you can upgrade at any time!


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