How Many Applications Do I Need to Put Out? 7 Factors that Might be Affecting Your Results

“How many job applications should I expect to put out before I get a job offer?” I’ve heard this question asked many times and I would love to be able to give you a solid, unwavering, authoritative number. But I refuse! Mainly because of the hell that will rain down on my inbox from those outside the P.I.C. community because I am off by plus or minus a number. With that being said, based on my own experience and the experience of other quarterlife-aged student affairs professionals I informally surveyed, I’m going to give you a number that is in no way scientifically based. Are you ready for it? Are you sure? It’s 30.

With that being said, here is a list of possible factors that might have an effect on your particular job search:

Relevant Professional Experience - Is the experience on your resume relevant to the job you are applying for? My professional experience is focused on Residential Life and International Education; it would be a hard sell for me to get a job in the Alumni office.

Appropriate Academic Credentials – With anywhere between 100 and 200 applicants for a given position, you better have the minimum academic requirements if you want a chance of getting that job. If you are applying for a ‘bachelor’s degree required, master’s preferred’ position and you have not completed your master’s degree, I would definitely encourage you to apply for that position; the odds are slightly more in your favor. If you meet or exceed the requirements your odds increase even more.

Time of Year - From May to early September is prime hiring time in the student affairs field. During this time there is a domino effect of people-moving positions. If you are applying outside of this time of year, it might have a positive or negative effect on your ability to get a position. I have heard it both ways – there are less people applying for jobs so you are in a smaller pool; or you will have less of a chance because there will be a preference towards internal candidates who did not get a position at another institution. I have no hard facts to back up either one of those examples.

Geographic Search Location – Simply put, the smaller the geographic region you are applying and searching for jobs in, the smaller the pool of potential jobs you can apply to. Widen your job search and you increase the number of jobs available for you to apply.

Address on Your Resume – This one is sadly based on a department’s budget. If you live in New York and you apply for a job in California, you might not be asked to an interview because they do not want to pay to fly you out there.

Negative Social Media - I have been asked on more than one occasion to do some online recon about a candidate we were looking to bring to campus. Be sure that your online image is acceptable by the most conservative hiring manager out there.

Bad References - The references that you listed on your application will probably sing your praises, hence why they are there. However, if you have had a questionable past with a given employer on your resume, they may be keeping you from getting the position you want. There are a few creative ways to find this information out. I’m not going to explicitly tell you, but if you use your imagination you can figure out what to do.

I hope these 7 factors give you some insight into your job search.  Remember the job search process is a marathon and not a sprint, so keep chasing your dream job in student affairs.

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One Comment

  1. I think these are all great ideas! I would like to add that sometimes, especially in residential life positions that hiring directors are looking to get a certain gender distribution on their staff. This could be contributing to getting offered a position.

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