Is Job Hunting Really a Numbers Game?
Updated: Sep 22
Dear Coach Kwan,
As an international student who is actively looking for a job, I hear from so many of my peers that they have been sending out dozens of applications each day. This is very discouraging, since I know that most of them have sent out hundreds of applications to no avail. Is it strategically sound to be using this ‘numbers game’ approach?
A disheartened job seeker, tired of writing hundreds of applications
Just from reading about this one student, I already feel tired for them! If you have the time and energy, you might not think that sending out hundreds of applications is a bad idea. After all, the more applications you send out, the more likely you are to get a response, right? Wrong!
I understand, and certainly am empathetic, that most of you are just trying to do your best in order to successfully land a job. When you keep hearing the narrative of how difficult it is for international students to get employed in the U.S., and your peers keep telling you how many job applications they filed just last week, it is easy to despair and start to blindly applying anywhere and everywhere. However, this is not doing you, nor recruiters, any favors.
According to a study conducted by Jobvite, 65% of recruiters say that the biggest challenge when hiring is finding the right candidate.
Another statistic provided by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in 2016 tells a similar story—52% of small businesses cited a lack of qualified applicants to fill their job openings as an issue.
At 46%, finding suitable candidates has been reported as the number one obstacle to hiring, according to a LinkedIn report published in 2016.
According to, Bullhorn's survey, an online recruitment software company, applying online for jobs you’re unqualified for can hurt your chances at future positions with the company too. 43 percent of 1,500 recruiters and hiring managers said irrelevant applications was the biggest turnoff and they would ‘blacklist’ those candidates by suppressing their names from even coming up in future resume searches.
This means that behind every application you filed blindly, there is a frustrated recruiter who can clearly see that you are not right for the job. The solution is not to send out more applications, but to send out better ones.
I coach international students to build the right skills for both networking and career branding. Evaluating your potential jobs, researching job market demands and requirements, and finding your career goal are the first few steps to effective career branding.
Most importantly, you need to stop waiting for luck to strike and approach job hunting in a smarter and more efficient way. This is why I keep emphasizing the importance of networking. Networking will not only provide you with a higher chance of making it to the interview step, but it also gives you a chance to truly assess whether you are a right fit for the job.
Tired of playing the numbers game? Ready to take your networking skills to the next level and be able to find jobs that are the right fit for you?
Join the ICAway Talent Platform to learn how to get closer to your dream jobs in the US.
Listen to Shazman below to find out how he landed his six-figure salary job at Amazon.
About Coach Kwan
Kwan is an experienced human-capital consultant. Her past corporate experience includes global organizations like Deloitte, Accenture, and BMW.
Kwan moved to the U.S. in 2014, earned her Senior Professional HR certification from HRIC and joined one of the world's most prestigious consulting firms as a Senior Consultant of Human Capital Consulting Practice and managed multiple projects for Fortune 500 clients.
Today, Kwan is the CEO and Founder of ICAway, an educational consulting firm based out of Chicago. Our mission is to be an empowering community for international students and light the way for students to find jobs in the U.S.
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