Gun-Related Jobs Are Surging +79% After Parkland School Shooting

So far this year, there have been 17 school shootings — nearly 2 shootings a week. The NRA and #NeverAgain movements are locked in a battle royale; caught in the middle, political and corporate alliances are shifting as we speak. It’s hard to know what’ll happen in the end, but we’re starting to see its effects already—

After last month’s Parkland shooting, hiring for gun-related jobs has surged +79% above last year’s baseline. You can practically see the #NeverAgain movement rallying its forces, schools and cities hiring more police officers, and others getting more gun permits and buying more guns.


“A Good Guy With a Gun”

The NRA argues that only “a good guy with a gun” can stop a bad guy with a gun. (In yesterday’s school shooting, a good guy with a gun prevented a far worse tragedy.) Regardless of whether you agree with the NRA, the reality is this: after big school shootings, Americans want to add more guns — 89% of gun-related hiring in the past 2 months increased the number of guns, either directly or indirectly.

What does that mean? Here are some (representative) folks who were recently hiring:

  • Armed Protection Officer, Bingo Hall — 95 Bravo Protection Services
  • Grassroots Spring Intern — National Rifle Association
  • Regional Police Officer — Cleveland Clinic
  • Retail Firearms Lead Outfitter — Cabela’s

In the aftermath of every big school shooting, you can practically see gun retailers hiring more outfitters, gun lobbies gearing up for a fight, and schools and hospitals hiring more police officers.


On the other hand, the Parkland survivors point to their school resource officer who stood outside for ~30 minutes while kids died inside. They’re demanding gun reform — doing TV interviews, staging nationwide walkouts, launching pressure campaigns and generally raising hell to make it happen.

They’re badly out-numbered and out-moneyed: in the last 2 months, for every gun reform person that was hired, 9 others were hired that increased access to guns.

However, what #NeverAgain lacks in numbers, they make up in broad, grassroots support. While the 5 biggest pro-gun employers hired 61% of new employees promoting gun access (e.g. big retailers), the 5 biggest anti-gun employers hired just 32% of people promoting gun control (e.g. community non-profits).

For instance, here are some (representative) folks who were hiring recently:

  • Campaign Associate, Guns and Crime — American Progress
  • Crew Leader, READI Chicago — Heartland Alliance
  • Program Coordinator — Sandy Hook Promise

What Does This Mean?

Jobs are fundamental part of our lives: they’re our livelihoods, sure, but they’re also a reflection of our priorities. Here, you can see two things happening:

  • Big school shootings (Parkland last month and San Bernadino last year) have a clear impact on people. They start buying more guns and asking for more law enforcement and private security to protect their loved ones.
  • At the same time, people want fewer guns and stronger communities: they start donating to community organizations and lobbying for gun reform.

My takeaway: People care. Specifically, they care in two ways:

  1. You may not agree with their opinion, but they care enough to have one — and that’s 80% of the battle, in my opinion.
  2. They care about making their communities stronger and safer. And they care enough to put their money where their mouth is, from hiring more security to buying more guns to donating to community non-profits.

How Can We Help?

Do you want to do something to prevent future school shootings? Whether you’re an experienced gun enthusiast, newfound social activist or aspiring first responder, you can do something.

And we can help. We’re a mission-driven company and, as far as I see it, it’s our job to get you the job you deserve. Getting a job these days is hard, but finding a job that balances your personal mission and practical needs is especially hard. Sign up for TalentWorks and email your TalentAdvocate with what you need. We’ll do everything we can for you!


  • Why should we trust you? TalentWorks indexes ~6 million jobs per month to help our users get the job they deserve. On average, TalentWorks subscribers get a 5.8x hireability boost over the competition and 90% of TalentWorks subscribers get an interview in 60 days or less. We understand jobs.
  • How’d you calculate this? Please tell me all the boring, technical details. We extracted a random sample of 25,000 jobs that mentioned the word “gun” from our index of ~91 million job postings. We then classified each posting as “pro-gun”, “anti-gun” or “other” based on company, posting text and job title. (You’d be surprised how many job postings refer to “nerf gun fights.” Bored yet?) Finally, we controlled for seasonality and indexability and plotted against school shootings from Wikipedia. All of this was done in Python using pandas, sklearn and bokeh.
  • What does this all (really) mean? You tell me. I’m a hard-headed idealist, so here’s how I choose to interpret the above: People care. You might not agree with their opinions, but they care enough to have one. And everyone (with their different opinions) is doing what they can to make a difference. It’s a start.

Why Are We Doing This?

With ApplicationAssistant, we can boost the average job-seeker’s hireability by ~5.8x. But, what makes ApplicationAssistant work has been an internal company secret until now. We’re fundamentally a mission-driven company and we believe we can help more people by sharing our knowledge. So, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Creative Commons

We’re not only sharing this but also sharing all of it under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. In other words, as long as you follow a few license terms, this means you can:

  • Share: Copy, redistribute the material in any medium or format.
  • Adapt: Remix, transform, and build upon the material.
Did you like this post? Share it with your friends!

The Science of The Job Search, Part II: Racism, Outgroup Bias & KFC

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tomorrow is the end of Black History Month. In a few weeks, it’ll be the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. How much does race still matter in America?


At least in hiring, race (still) matters — a lot. After analyzing thousands of job applications, outcomes and applicants, we discovered 3 key things:

  1. Non-white job applicants got 2.3x fewer interviews than their white counterparts;
  2. For non-white job applicants, if a resume mistake reinforced a racist stereotype, it basically disqualified them, e.g. African-Americans are lazy, Asian-Americans can’t speak English;
  3. On the other hand, very few people were consciously racist. When non-white applicants followed specific tips (see below) that forced hiring managers to consider them objectively, they were given a 54% fairer chance.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Non-White Applicants Are Less Hireable

It’s hard out there for a black man. (And black women and Hispanic men and…)

Why? Two reasons (see below):

  1. When a white person applied to a job, they had a 13.0% chance of hearing back, compared to 6.7% for Asian-Americans and just 2.3% for African-Americans!
  2. When white applicants heard back, they heard back in 12.4 days, compared to 18.8 days for Hispanics and 41.2 days for African-Americans (nearly 6 weeks)!
Ethnicity% Interview Rate# Days for Replyp-value

A common explanation for this sort of effect is that non-white job applicants have lower educational attainment, etc. We’ve omitted that analysis here for brevity but, in short, the effects here aren’t explainable by education, work history, skills or geography, e.g. African-American job applicants had nearly 37% more education than their white counterparts. (President Obama was right…)

If you’re a minority (and you’re ever planning on looking for a job), this is pretty terrible news. What can you do about it?

Disqualifier: Don’t Reinforce Racist Stereotypes!

When you look at the data, it becomes pretty clear that certain resume mistakes are basically disqualifiers for certain races. Those disqualifiers fit a general pattern: racist stereotypes.

Put another way, if you in any way reinforce a pre-existing racial stereotype, you’ll be punished for it. Check out the following graph, for instance:


If you’re from an immigrant family (or your name looks like it might be) and you make a resume faux pas, your chances drop precipitously.

#5: Asian-Americans: Dorks Who Can’t Speak English [100% PENALTY]

Asian-Americans are awkward math dorks who can’t speak English — that’s the stereotype, right? Witness Engrish, Apu in the Simpsons, and this scene from the Big Short (one of my favorite movies):

If you’re Asian-American, a resume mistake that in any way reinforces the Engrish/bad communication skills stereotype can be a fatal mistake. Don’t believe me? Check out this tweet a few weeks ago from Seattle:

Look at her dad’s original email above. It’s not great English, sure, but I’ve seen hundreds of applications like that from non-Asian applicants too. Do you think Bruce would reply like that to Chad?

Job Search Tip: Especially if you’re Asian- or Hispanic-American, make sure that you’re not making a resume faux pas (100% penalty).

(If you’re worried about making an unintentional faux pas, ApplicationAssistant can automatically optimize dozens of variables for you, including writing personalized cover letters for each job application.)

#4: African-Americans: Lazy Welfare Queens [PENALTY]

This doesn’t apply just to Asian- and Hispanic-Americans.

Let’s talk about two people: Tyrone Robinson, who got zero replies after ~4 months of job-hunting in SF, despite applying to 100+ jobs; and, DeAndre Jackson, who got multiple offers after just 1 month of job hunting in Los Angeles. (Names and locations changed to protect the innocent.)

Consider Tyrone’s work history:


Marketing Assistant, Gap, 2015 — 2017
Sales Associate, Gap, 2014 — 2015
Sales Associate, Best Buy, 2013

Looks good, right? 5 years of work experience. Good career progression. So, why didn’t he get the job? Consider DeAndre, who had less experience but did just fine:


Marketing Assistant, American Apparel, 2017 — Present
Marketing Assistant, Banana Republic, 2015 — 2017
Office Manager, Law Office, 2014 — 2015

What’s the stereotype for African-Americans? They eat fried chicken, they’re lazy and they’re welfare queens. If you’re African-American, a resume mistake — no matter how small or innocent — that reinforces the lazy welfare queen stereotype will doom your job search.

If you look at Tyrone’s resume, you can see that he had two unexplained gaps in work experience. For any other person, it might not be great, but it would’ve been just fine. For Tyrone, it was a fatal (and 100% innocent) mistake. (He’d had to take care of his ailing mother.)

Resume Tip: If you’re African-American, make sure you explain (or remove) any gap in work experience.

Explanation: Outgroup Bias and KFC

Here’s the rub: none of these resumes contained photos. Hiring managers could only infer an applicant’s ethnicity based on their name.

That split-second inference has tremendous (subconscious) power: a first impression (a home team jersey or how a name sounds) fires off millions of neurons in your brain, giving you dozens of working assumptions in a few hundred milliseconds — it’s what we call a “gut feeling” in everyday life.

And it’s important! We’re bombarded by information everywhere we go and if we didn’t have our gut feelings, we’d be sloppy, slippery puddles of anxiety on the floor. But, sometimes it goes awry.

Whenever someone seems foreign or unfamiliar to you, those gut reactions prepare you to be skeptical and wary — in psychology, it’s known as outgroup bias. This made a ton of sense when we lived in warring clans in the Irish highlands or African savannah, but it’s less helpful now that most (corporate) folks’ biggest physical threat is a paper-cut.

In the couple seconds the average manager takes to review an average resume, outgroup bias means Tyrone Robinson gets bucketed as a lazy, KFC-eating flake and Minh Huynh gets bucketed as an Engrish-speaking dork in a few hundred milliseconds. They never even had a (real) chance.

Sucks, right? But, it turns out there’s hope—

Equalizer: Force an Objective Mindset

In general, when hiring managers are reviewing your resume, you’re operating at their subjective, subconscious “gut feeling” level. And if you’ve got a name like Tyrone Robinson, Maria Torres or Minh Huynh, that means you’re in trouble.

But, remember: very few people are consciously racist. What if instead of fighting the subconscious, you forced them to consider you consciously — objectively?


Non-white job applicants saw up to +199% higher interview rates when they forced hiring managers to consider them objectively. This roughly translated to closing the racial discrimination gap in hiring by 54% (a 1.6x race penalty vs. 2.3x originally).

So, how do you force hiring managers to consider you objectively? In addition to not breaking resume etiquette, you need to follow at least two of the resume tips below:

#3: Use Concrete Numbers [+23% BOOST]

As we mentioned last time, every 3 sentences, use at least 1 number to demonstrate your (concrete) impact. Between the two people below, who would you hire?

Helped increase sales by 31% by working with Operations Manager to reduce time to 1st customer reply.

Collaborated with Operations Manager improve customer reply times.

The first one is better than the second for everyone. But, if Chad and Tyrone both say the second, Chad is always going to win.

Resume Tip: Especially for people of color, quantifying the impact that you made with numbers helps remove subjective bias (+23% boost).

#2: Add Industry Buzzwords [+34% BOOST]

Also as last timeadd 15-20 specific skills, industry buzzwords, acronyms, etc. to your resume. Although it’s helpful for everyone, it’s especially helpful for minorities to anchor their expertise in objectively-known and -respected foundations.

Resume Tip: Include 15-20 specific skills, industry buzzwords and expertise in your job achievements (+34% boost).

#1: Don’t Be a “Team Player” [+63% BOOST]

Finally, don’t be a “team player”. Don’t mention these sorts of collaboration-oriented words more than once or twice in your resume:

team player
results-driven collaborator
supporting member

Why? These sorts of words discount your achievements to hiring managers. Saying it once conveys that you work well in teams. Saying it five times screams, “I don’t know how to get anything done individually.” If you’re a person of color, hiring managers are already (subconsciously) discounting your achievements — don’t help them.

(Quite frankly, this is a lot like the problem that many women face in the workplace. More on that in a post next month. In the meantime, check out #banbossy.)

Resume Tip: For people of color, being explicit about your specific contributions is crucial to remove subjective bias (+63% boost).

(Given the different variables to balance, this one’s a bit tricky. Our ResumeOptimizer can automatically suggest corrections for teamwork cliches and other common mistakes.)


To recap:

  • Race (still) matters, a lot — non-white job applicants were 2.3x less hireable than white job applicants.
  • If you (in any way) reinforce a pre-existing racist stereotype, outgroup bias will cause hiring managers to instantly disqualify you, e.g. African-Americans are lazy welfare queens, Asian-Americans are dorks who can’t speak English.
  • On the other hand, if you forced hiring managers to consider you objectively, they gave you a 70% fairer chance. For example: demonstrating personal achievements, concrete skills, quantified impact.

As with everything involving race, you’re playing on a knife’s edge here: do too little and you’re nothing, do too much and you’re labeled try-hard (or worse, blackballed). You have to do the right thing in exactly the right amount. Balancing the hundreds of variables that go into this is hard, for humans.

But, it’s easy for robots: our AI-driven systems can simultaneously optimize 1,000+ variables. We’re just getting started with these sorts of discrimination-related hiring issues, but our existing tools can already help a lot:

  • ApplicationAssistant automatically identifies jobs you’re objectively qualified for, so you can emphasize your objective qualifications and mitigate subconscious racism/outgroup bias; and,
  • ResumeOptimizer instantly scans your resume for dozens of potential issues putting you at a disadvantage, including the three objective-mindset tips above.

In addition, our TalentAdvocates have helped people of every ethnicity and background navigate the especially complex, confusing, frustrating job search landscape that minorities face. Let us help.


We used the core dataset, analysis and visualization from The Science of the Job Search, Part I.

To calculate which resume tips were disqualifiers, we looked only at non-white subgroups and filtered for tips where their absence resulted in a <5% interview rate. For equalizers, we filtered for tips where their presence resulted in an interview rate within 2 standard errors of the overall mean. The above graphs are plotted with bokeh on Python.

Why Are We Doing This?

With ApplicationAssistant right now, we can boost the average job-seeker’s hireability by 5.8x. But, what makes ApplicationAssistant work has been an internal company secret until now. We’re fundamentally a mission-driven company and we believe we can help more people by sharing our learnings. So, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

Creative Commons

We’re not only sharing this but also sharing all of it under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. In other words, as long as you follow a few license terms, this means you can:

  • Share: Copy, redistribute the material in any medium or format.
  • Adapt: Remix, transform, and build upon the material.
Did you like this post? Share it with your friends!

The Science of The Job Search, Part I: 13 Data-Backed Ways To Win

It’s the New Year! And what does that mean? Fireworks, champagne and New Year’s Resolutions. It turns out fully 63% of people’s New Year’s resolutions are about jobs: negotiating that promotion, quitting that job you’ve always hated, or getting that new job you’ve always wanted.

But, as we all know, getting a job is hard. Clearly, there are jobs out there. And clearly, some people are getting those jobs. In fact, although people have a ~2% interview rate for online job applications on average, some TalentWorks subscribers have a 40%+ interview rate!


We call these folks our “A-List Talent.” What’s so special about them? What’s their secret? And is there anything you can learn from them?

We analyzed 4,000+ job applications and job applicants from the past few months and, using some fancy math and a bit of elbow grease, identified 13 key factors out of 100+ possible factors that drove up our A-List Talent’s interview rates. So, without further ado, let’s get to it: What can you learn from our A-List Talent’s super-high hireability to (finally) get that job you deserve in 2018?

Factors you can’t control

#3: Go back to school. [+22% BOOST]


Having a 2nd degree boosts your chances of getting an interview by +21.9%.

Why is this something you can’t (easily) control? I don’t know about you, but not everyone can put their life on hold, spend four years and tens of thousands of dollars of school in the hopes of getting a better job… four years from now.

Job Search Tip: Except in rare scenarios, you should not go back to school for a 2nd degree just to improve your job prospects. When you factor in opportunity cost, you usually come out behind — it’s just not worth it.

#2: Be older. (Or younger.) [+25% BOOST]


Age matters. A lot, sadly. Your chances of getting a job at age 20 are pretty bad. At 30, they’re OK. At 40, they’re getting bad again. It might be illegal, but age discrimination is very real.

The best age to get a job is between 28 and 35. During this time, you get a +25.1% hireability boost over everyone else. Up to age 28, your hireability is increasing by +9% every year. After age 35, your hireability drops by -8% every year.

But, here’s the rub: this is inferred age. Hiring managers (subconsciously) guess your age based on your graduation date, how much experience you have, etc. If you don’t show your graduation date, they can’t tell how old you are. If you only have your most recent 2-3 jobs listed, they can’t tell that you started working in the 1980s.

Resume Tip: Don’t list your graduation date if you’re older than 35. If hiring managers can’t guess your age, they can’t discriminate against you based on it.

#1: Be a woman. [+48% BOOST]


Resumes with obviously female names had a +48.3% higher chance of getting an interview. For example:


This effect was initially very surprising to us, but when you think it about it, it’s really not. Dozens of studies show that women often don’t get what they deserve (basically) because they don’t ask for it. This shows that, when women do ask for what they deserve, they’re often recognized for it.

In the past several months, women across the country have become more vocal about their rights, from standing up to sexual harassment to supporting each other in the workplace. Between the clear (data-proven) benefits of hiring women, that women are outperforming men in school, and the fact that most recruiters are women (who want to support other women), it makes 100% sense why women might be getting a boost when they apply for jobs.

Job Search Tip: To all the women out there who might question themselves, undervalue their contributions, or wonder if they truly deserve it, push through the discomfort and demand what you deserve (the job, the raise, the promotion). You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take but, at least with job applications, when you do take that shot, you’ll get a +48.3% boost over the competition.

Factors you can control

#10: Play buzzword bingo. [+29% BOOST]


Buzzwords, keywords, acronyms, industry jargon — call them what you want, but they serve a purpose. Beyond the usual reasons, they help you get past automated screening tools used by many big companies. But if you go overboard, the actual hiring manager might think you’re a tool (even if the robots don’t notice).

Resume Tip: Name-drop a buzzword every 3-6 sentences. Folks who dropped an occasional buzzword saw a +29.3% boost over others.

#9: Demonstrate results with numbers. [+40% BOOST]


I’ve personally hired 100+ people over my career and, during that time, I’ve probably personally reviewed 10,000+ resumes. Even if a resume passes your sniff test, the hardest thing is separating what’s real vs. what’s pink, fluffy, sugar-y cotton-candy-coated horsecrap. Quantifying how you made an impact with numbers goes a long way towards helping hiring managers tell them apart fast.

Resume Tip: Every 3 sentences, use at least 1 number to demonstrate your (concrete) impact. Folks who did that saw gain a +40.2% boost over their competition.

#8: Apply on Mondays. Don’t apply on Fridays. [+46% BOOST]


Enough said.

(Why are there so few applications on Fridays or Saturdays? ApplicationAssistant automatically optimizes dozens of variables for you, including when it applies for a job on your behalf.)

Job Search Tip: Apply on Mondays (+46.0% hireability boost). Don’t apply on Fridays or Saturdays.

#7: Don’t be a “Team Player.” [+51% BOOST]

This one’s a little counter-intuitive, so hold on.


Everyone talks about how important teamwork is. And how our whole economy is becoming about sharing. And collaboration. Lots of it. It’s very cute.

When it comes to actually hiring someone though, the most collaborative candidates get penalized by -50.8% by hiring managers. If that doesn’t make sense, consider these

  1. Owned, analyzed and delivered on-time financial reports for business sub-unit A to management team on monthly basis.
  2. Collaborated with full analyst team to create monthly financial reports for management team.
  3. Assisted management team by creating monthly financial reports as a supporting member of the analysis team.

Who would you hire? (Or call for an interview?) In the 2nd and 3rd case, I have no idea what work you did (vs. free-loading off your team). Finally, many collaborative words also have passive, subordinate, weasel-word undertones.

Resume Tip: Don’t mention more than once or twice that you’re a “team player,” “results-driven collaborator,” “supporting member”, etc. This is associated with a +50.8% hireability boost over the competition.

#6: Take charge with leadership words. [+51% BOOST]


The converse of avoiding weasel words is also true. Adding strong, active, leadership-oriented words also helps you. Some of the words we detected as strong, active words:


What I want you to get from that: You don’t have to be the CEO of your company to be a leader, and leadership doesn’t always mean managing people or huge budgets. Even if you’re just an intern somewhere, you can still demonstrate leadership traits by proactively communicating with co-workers. And your future bosses want to know that!

Resume Tip: Incorporate 1-2 leadership-oriented words every 5 sentences. Job applicants who used strong, active, leadership-words saw a +50.9% boost over the competition.

#5: Don’t use personal pronouns. [+55% BOOST]


People who used even one personal pronoun in their employment section (not the objective or professional summary section) had a -54.7% lower chance of getting an interview callback.

Resume Tip: Don’t use personal pronouns in your employment section. Ever.

#4: Include a Key Skills section. [+59% BOOST]


You can’t name-drop enough skills, buzzwords and acronyms to get to the optimal number of skills without one.

Resume Tip: For most [*] people, you should add 15-20 skills, buzzwords, acronyms, etc. to your resume. This is associated with a +58.8% boost in hireability on average.

[*] There’s actually a really interesting effect going on here. There’s a clear, second sub-population of special folks for whom 30-40 skills, buzzwords, acronyms, etc. is the right number. More on that later.

#3: Apply in the first 4 days. [+65% BOOST]

We’ve already talked about being first-in-line for a job.

Resume Tip: Applying early gets you a +64.7% boost over your competition on average. (Although it can make up to an 8x difference for a single job application, most people aren’t applying at the worst possible time.)

#2: Apply between 6am and 10am. [+89% BOOST]

We’ve already talked about this too.

Resume Tip: Applying between 6am and 10am gives you an +89.1% boost over your competition. (As above, your competition isn’t applying at the worst possible time so you don’t get the full 5x boost every time.)

And, finally, the #1 most important factor you can control?

#1: Start your sentences with (distinct) action verbs. [+140% BOOST]


If you did anything worthy at a company, you’ll have done something. If you start the sentence describing what you did with an action verb, you’re off to a strong start. And if you describe the different things that you did at that company with different action verbs, you’ll have finished strong.

Say what? In short, say this:

Developed a world-positive, high-impact student loan product that didn’t screw over people after 100+ customer interviews.

Not this:

After 100+ customer interviews, the world-positive, high-impact student loan product was developed by me.

Resume Tip: Describe your job achievements with different action verbs. This one resume tip is is associated with +139.6% boost in getting more interviews.

(Why so few people in the baseline? Our ResumeOptimizer will automatically scan your resume and suggest places where you should use action verbs.)

P.S. A (small) corollary —

Getting a job you deserve is hard, yes. But, it’s not as hard as you think. And I can prove that.

Many folks think to get a better job they have to fundamentally change as a person, gain new skills, learn new habits, network for weeks, etc. And, sure, all of that helps.

But, look again at the #1 most effective tip: it’s about changing the words on your resume for a +139.6% boost. (And not even all of the words — it’s literally about changing the first word of each job achievement.)

On the other hand, look at what a second degree buys you: a +21.9% boost. It’ll cost you tens of thousands of dollars and years of effort, but you’ll get 6.4x more impact for something that’ll take you a few minutes.

Why am I spending precious sentences trying to prove this to you for a blog post that’s already pretty long? Because it’s January 6th. And you probably haven’t made good on your New Year’s Resolutions yet. We know two things:

  1. Every week you procrastinate your New Year’s resolution means you have a 24% lower chance of succeeding at it.
  2. The #1 most-important step to completing a task is to start it. (No, seriously. These folks have studied it.)

So, don’t procrastinate. Don’t put it off. It’s not some crazy, big life improvement project to (finally) get that job you deserve. Instead, it’s about making sure you apply at the right time, changing a few words, or adding a few numbers. Go get that job you deserve today! You can do it!

(We can help.)


So, to summarize: Go back to school. Be a woman. Be older. (Or younger.) Sorry, bad joke. Play buzzword bingo. Demonstrate results with numbers. Apply on Mondays. (Don’t apply on Fridays.) Don’t be a team player. Take charge with leadership words. Don’t use personal pronouns. Include a Key Skills section. Apply in the first 4 days. Apply between 6am and 10am. Start your sentences with (distinct) action verbs. (Phew! Trying saying that five times fast.)

Easy peasy. You got this, right? Great. Now do that for every job you have to apply to and we’ll pretty much guarantee that you get the job you deserve.

Or, you can sign up for TalentWorkswe’ll just take care of it all for you! (No, seriously. [*]) Let us help you keep your New Year’s Resolution.

[*] For most things, we can just automatically take care of it for you. For instance:

  • Our AI-driven ApplicationAssistant automatically optimizes the day of week, time of day & delay of your application so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of 100+ applications.
  • Our ResumeOptimizer will instantly scan your resume for all of the potential issues above in addition to dozens of others.

And our A-List Talent? Sure, some of them might be in especially high-demand fields but, more often than not, they’re people who’ve put in a few minutes to optimize their resume for their job search. You should too!


Underlying Dataset

We took a random sample of 4,068 jobs, applicants and outcomes from recent activity on TalentWorks. For each case, we parsed their resumes with our ResumeParser, and annotated various applicant traits including gender, ethnicity, age, etc., and whether they had followed each of 70+ optimizations from our ResumeOptimizer.


Using partial least squares decomposition against interview rate, we then identified 16 principal components from the above dataset. Finally, we hand-selected a subset of the top factors in the first two principal components as the final 13 key factors.


We regressed the impact and estimated standard error of each factor across its domain using a composite Matern kernel. The results above are plotted with Bokeh on python.

Why Are We Doing This?

With ApplicationAssistant right now, we can boost the average job-seeker’s hireability by ~5x. But, what makes ApplicationAssistant work has been an internal company secret until now. We’re fundamentally a mission-driven company and we believe we can help more people by sharing our learnings. So, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

Creative Commons

We’re not only sharing this but also sharing all of it under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. In other words, as long as you follow a few license terms, this means you can:

  • Share: Copy, redistribute the material in any medium or format.
  • Adapt: Remix, transform, and build upon the material.

EDIT 2018-01-07 11am: Holy batman, viral post! In just 3 hours, we’ve been deluged by 100,000+ people wanting to learn more about the science behind the job search. Trying to get to everyone’s emails and comments ASAP.

EDIT 2018-01-07 2pm: We’re 6 hours and 250,000+ people in — wow! We’ll definitely be publishing a follow-up to this.

EDIT 2018-01-10: Since I simply couldn’t keep up with everyone’s comments, I wanted to address a few good technical questions that came up below and on Reddit:

  • We’re not trying to claim causation here. This was a 100% retrospective, correlation-based study. Although RCT-based studies are the gold standard and can establish correlation, they also require much more time and resources even after you know what to study. We’ll definitely be spending the time and money on teasing out causation in follow-up studies, but there’s still a lot of value in retrospective studies and we felt holding that back in a world where 51% of all 20-somethings are under-employed was just irresponsible.
  • We’re also not claiming that any one factor above fully explains the observed variance. In statistical terms, any single factor is independently a relatively weak predictor of your hireability [*]. However, when you account for multiple factors jointly, they are fairly strong predictor of hireability. Put another way, the coefficient of determination R^2 of the first two principal components described above is 0.719. For visualization simplicity above, we only graph one factor at a time.

[*] This makes sense, right? If you’re a Harvard MBA, we’re not claiming that applying on Fridays means you’re going to be forever unemployed.

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15 Jobs With Surging Demand Near Houston: The Economic Chaos of Natural Disasters, Part I

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated Texas and Florida, killing hundreds of people, causing hundreds of billions of dollars in damage, and displacing tens of thousands of families. It wrecked the economy, wiping out 110,000+ jobs in September alone.

On Friday, the Labor Department released its October hiring report, showing that hiring had rebounded to normal: 261,000 jobs added. But, here’s what they missed: not only did it rebound, but hiring increased dramatically beyond 2017 norms in hurricane-affected regions.


In coastal Texas, for instance, demand for project managers surged by +179%, nurses and counselors by +140%, and architects by +114%.

What’s the deal? Let’s dig in a bit.

Nursing & Counseling Jobs


We all saw the horrifying videos of flood waters coursing through Houston, and many of us read about dangerous chemical contaminates leaking into the rising waters. As health concerns rose, so too did the demand for medical-related professions. We found a +94% jump in demand for nurse practitioners, +140% jump for registered nurses, and +110% jump for nursing aides.

Simultaneously, as people were returning home and seeing the devastation, the demand for mental health counselors rose too: we saw a +180% jump in demand for counselors, peaking in early October.

Although demand is dropping back down, if you’re in a medical- or mental health-related profession, and want to help in future national disaster crises, upload your resume to TalentWorks and we’ll alert you whenever we detect an imminent surge.

Hotel, Food Service & Property Management Jobs


Wait. I know what you’re thinking… “Didn’t I just see something about the hotel industry getting decimated by the hurricanes?” You’re right, they did.

There’s a big difference between tourists canceling plans and residents moving back: 1,000 tourists might cancel vacations right before a hurricane hits, but tens of thousands of residents will come home a week later and discover they need a place to stay. FEMA estimated that up to 53,000 people were living in hotels because of Hurricane Harvey.

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, demand jumped by +109% for hotel managers and by 71% for food service managers. Although demand has dissipated for hotel managers, demand for food service managers is actually increasing (+116% pre-hurricane levels), likely because people are coming home and realizing their kitchens are unusable.

Finally, hotels get expensive fast. Where do you go if you can’t go home? An apartment. In the past few weeks, demand for property managers jumped by +130% over pre-hurricane levels near Houston and Corpus Christi.

If you have experience in food service or property management and are looking for a job, you really need to look in coastal Texas — they need you and you need them. Let us know if we can help (we’re offering our services for free to anyone displaced by Hurricane Harvey or Irma; see below).

So, what now?

Insurance & Finance-Related Jobs


You’re paying exorbitant prices for price-jacking hotels, medical bills, eating out. You need to pay for all that — insurance. And insurance companies need people to pay out all those damages. (And people to fix all that damage too, but we’ll get to that in a second.)

In the immediate aftermath of hurricane Harvey, we saw an +72% increase in hiring for claims examiners. Here’s the amazing part: insurance firms began hiring for claims examiners before Harvey had even made landfall! Insurance firms are big corporations who’ve seen this before; they’re putting their disaster response playbook in action.

If you’re a big corporation that knows you’re going to be paying out lots of money, what else do you need? Financial analysts who can help you figure out what it means for your bottom line. Demand for financial analysts jumped by +77% after Hurricane Harvey.

Architecture, Engineering & Construction Jobs

Let’s review some quick numbers: Harvey damaged nearly 200,000 homes in Texas. The shortage of laborers and contractors is well-known, but demand for professional construction-related jobs also surged way up. What do you need to rebuild a city?


Architects, for one. Not only did demand for architects surge +114% in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, demand for architects is still increasing and at nearly 2x average demand of recent months.

After architects draw up the blueprints, who do you call? Demand for drafters — the folks who make the actual technical plans — jumped by +51%. Simultaneously, demand for mechanical engineers surged by 35% and civil engineers by 28%. 


Finally, you start building. Beyond construction workers and laborers, there’s surging demand for professional, white-collar workers too. In mid-September, there was a +81% surge for cost estimators.

And, it’s still going: in just these past few weeks, there’s been a +179% hiring surge for construction project managers.

(If you don’t care about the math-y details, just skip ahead to the next section. If you want to nerd out with us, feel free. We’re all nerds at heart here at TalentWorks.)

Our Methodology

We performed a timeseries analysis of a random subsample of 54,826 job postings from the past 5 months in coastal Texas, covering 110 distinct industries and roles. For each role, we then regressed the number of job postings per day using a blended linear kernel and computed p-values using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, comparing post-hurricane samples to a 90-day pre-hurricane baseline period. The above is a selection of  jobs that had p-values less than 0.100.

Although the above graphs don’t explicitly control for seasonality, we cross-checked seasonality separately and found that they can’t explain the surges above. We also did an initial perturbation analysis and verified the above surges are robust to noise.

David Blaszka, one of TalentWorks’ data analysts, drove most of the research and analysis for this post. Kushal helped a bit and wrote a lot of this blog post.

Next Steps: What Can You Do?

“That’s cute and all, but what am I supposed to do with all of that?” (You might be thinking…) Here are three things you can do today:

  1. Are you looking for a job? If you’ve been displaced by Hurricane Irma or Harvey, I’m making the executive decision today (perks of being CEO…) that TalentWorks will offer all of our help to you for free, including our Interview Guarantee. (We have an 88% success rate.) [*]
  2. Do you want personalized alerts about hiring surges near you? (So you can be first-in-line for job applications! Applying quickly matters, a lot.) To get real-time personalized alerts, upload your resume to TalentWorks.
  1. Donate to the Southeast Texas Food Bank. Southeast Texas is going through a real food crisis, and their food banks are getting hit hard. If you can, please donate. I’ve already donated $103 and I’ll match the first $1,000 in donations (just forward your receipt to [email protected]).southeast-texas-food-bank-donation

[*] To make this happen, sign up for ApplicationAssistant normally and just email your TalentAdvocate proof that you lived near Florida or coastal Texas. It’ll ask for a credit card but we’ll update your plan immediately and you won’t get charged.

This is an ongoing series about the economic chaos of natural disasters. Next week, we’ll write about the effects of Hurricane Irma on hiring in South Florida. Want to stay up-to-date on all things about your job search? Sign up for our blog!

P.S. We’ll never spam you. We send at most one email a week.

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You’re 5x More Likely to Get a Job Interview If You Apply by 10am

Applying to jobs can be a full-time job itself. It’s especially taxing if you’re already working. When do you have time to fill out job application after job application? After work, maybe. Before lunch, if you’re especially committed. But, here’s the thing: they’re the absolute worst times to apply for a job.

We’re always looking for ways to make the job search easier. While looking through our latest data, we discovered this nugget: Applying to a job before 10am can increase your odds of getting an interview by 5x.

The best time to apply for a job is between 6am and 10am. During this time, you have an 13% chance of getting an interview — nearly 5x as if you applied to the same job after work. Whatever you do, don’t apply after 4pm.

We analyzed a subsample of 1,610 job applications (that were sent at random application times) to see how much time of day affects your likelihood of scoring an interview. Here’s what we found:

  • The best time to apply for a job is between 6am and 10am. During this time, you have an 13% chance of getting an interview.
  • After that morning window, your interview odds start falling by 10% every 30 minutes. If you’re late, you’re going to pay dearly.
  • There’s a brief reprieve during lunchtime, where your odds climb back up to 11% at around 12:30pm but then start falling precipitously again.
  • The single-worst time to apply for a job is after work — if you apply at 7:30pm, you have less than a 3% chance of getting an interview. You’re fighting another clock here (the number of days a job has been posted) but, at this point, it’s better to save your email until the next morning.

One really important (but subtle) aspect above: You have to send the application during the morning of the employer’s timezone. If you don’t manage against the employer’s timezone, the effect disappears.

What’s the big deal about morning and lunch? Well, there’s one really intriguing insight into what might be happening here…

A few years ago, a group of scientists from Princeton published a stunning discovery about bias in the judicial system. This wasn’t about money, sexism, racism — no, nothing like that. Instead, it was about coffee breaks. Seriously. (Here’s the original paper.)

Your chances of getting parole depends more on when your judge had a coffee break, not whether you’re actually rehabilitated or not.

In short, if your parole hearing was scheduled after a judge got her coffee break, you had a 65% chance of getting parole. (That is, if you were lucky enough or if your lawyer was smart enough or if you were rich enough.) If you were scheduled right before break, you had a near-zero chance of getting parole.

How do parole hearings relate to the job search? Well, just that there’s two nameless, faceless committees of people who can change your life with the stroke of a pen…

I’ll let you connect the dots.

So much of life feels random and out of our control — applying for a job, for one. But really, when something feels random, it usually means that there’s something we don’t understand. When you discover what that is and start to understand it, you can begin the process of taking back control.

What does all of this mean? When you combine this with the last post in our series, there are already two big things that you can do to take back control in your job search:

  1. Apply to jobs in the first 3-4 days of a job posting; and,
  2. Apply to jobs before 10am (in the employer’s timezone).

There’s both an art and a science to the job search — in combination, just these two optimizations can (scientifically) increase your odds of getting a job by nearly 40x.

Are you looking for a job? If so, try ApplicationAssistant. In addition to your job applications being submitted before 10am, we also make sure your job is applied to in the first few days and that every other optimization is also followed — you’ll automatically get the benefits of everything we know about the job search.

EDIT 1: Holy smokes, Batman — this went viral. Reddit reports 25,000+ people in ~4 hours and it’s accelerating fast. As I’m not able to reply to all the requests personally or get ahead of the comment wave, I wanted to clarify a few things about methodology:

  1. This is a randomized controlled trial and so accounts for correlation vs. causation. Specifically, these are semi-automated job applications that TalentWorks submitted on behalf of our ApplicationAssistant users.
    • Job applications were randomly sequenced (and submitted) by our systems without regard to users’ qualifications, personality, experience, resume, etc. There is no correlation between application time and user traits.
    • We’re incorporating this study’s insights into ApplicationAssistant to make sure our users have the best, most optimized application possible.
    • This will inhibit our ability to do an analysis like this in the future, but our #1 mission is to help people get the job they deserve and that’s more important.
  2. This subsample of 1,610 job applications covers users across a wide cross section of experiences, roles and industries.
    • There are 30 distinct industries and roles represented in this subsample including sales, writing, software engineering and project management.
    • Work experience ranged from 0 years to 26 years, with an average of 6.7 years of experience per user.

EDIT 2: 100,000+ people in ~15 hours! And it’s still climbing fast.

EDIT 3: Looks like things are starting to taper out. 130,000+ people in 1 day!

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How Long Does It Take to Get a Job in America Today? 84.3 Days for HR…

In the past couple weeks, I’ve talked to several friends and customers who’ve been feeling especially frustrated and confused about the job search. “If unemployment is <5% and there are so many jobs out there, why is my search taking so long? Is there something wrong with me?

They’re not alone. Forget the official numbers, it’s miserable out there for millions of Americans. Don’t believe me? Take one look at Twitter or Reddit and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

So, what’s the deal? How is it that unemployment is <5% but everyone you know and their mom is complaining about the job search? Well, there’s a lot that the official government lies about hides (more on that later), but I pulled some of TalentWorks’ data over the weekend to see if we could shine some light on it.

tl;dr: Yes, the US economy is adding jobs, but it’s still a serious pain in the ass for any single American job-seeker to actually get a job. No, there’s nothing wrong with you — it’s miserable for everyone.

This graph summarizes it better than anything I can say. With a standard (non-TalentWorks-optimized) search, here’s how long it takes to get a job for some of the most popular roles at TalentWorks:

How long does it take to get a job in America today? Forget 4.4% employment, it takes 84.3 days for HR folks, 94.7 days for sales folks, even more for others.

What gives? There are 3 major things going on here—

Job Applications, So Many Job Applications…

For starters, check out how many job applications it takes to get a job. For HR and administrative assistants, it takes 200+ applications to get a job! Even software developers (supposedly in dire shortage), need to submit 150+ applications to get a job offer!

If that doesn’t make sense to you, consider this: On average, you have an 8.3% probability of getting a job interview from one job application. That means it takes 10-20 applications to get one interview. And, on top of that, it takes 10-15 interviews to get one job offer (more on that later too).

This obviously varies by your specific role, past experience, location and about a dozen other factors, but it doesn’t vary that much:

RoleInterview Rate (%)
Property Managers10.2%
Project Managers9.3%
Human Resources Workers4.7%
Marketing Specialists9.7%
Software Developers6.1%
Mechanical Engineers10.1%
Kindergarten Teachers10.6%
High School Teachers5.3%
Sales Representatives5.9%
Office Managers8.6%
Customer Service Representatives10.0%
Administrative Assistants4.5%

Not Enough New Job Openings

So, how long does it take to submit 200+ job applications? Even if you’ve got brilliant AI and fantastic industry mentors on your side (sorry, I had to get that one in), there’s only so many new jobs opening up around you.

The number of new jobs per week varies dramatically by city and job role, but you can roughly assume it’s somewhere between 50 and 100 for most jobs and major cities.

How many of those do you (seriously) qualify for? Or are (seriously) interested in? Based on what we see, let’s say it’s about 10-25% for now.

All of a sudden, you’re now living in a world where you can only (seriously) apply to between 5 and 25 jobs per week.

If you need to apply to 150+ jobs, that’s 6+ weeks! And sometimes, it’s way, way worse. For example, if you compare the chart and table above, although mechanical engineers have a pretty high interview rate, there just aren’t that many mechanical engineering jobs out there in most cities. God forbid if you’re only looking at one city…

Slow, Ghosting Hiring Managers!

Who’s been ghosted by a hiring manager? (Everyone raise their hand…) It’s just a normal day in the job search. It happens so often, we even named it at TalentWorks: blackholing.

But, even when hiring managers are on their best behavior, there’s always a delay between when you start your job search and until you get a response.

For many competitive industries and roles, this delay can be quite short: 1-3 days. But, the less competitive your industry or role, the longer the delay. The more bureaucratic or traditional your industry, the longer the delay. And so on.

RoleResponse Delay (# days)
Property Managers1.1
Project Managers2.9
Human Resources Workers3.2
Marketing Specialists2.2
Software Developers3.0
Mechanical Engineers3.0
Kindergarten Teachers3.7
High School Teachers1.0
Sales Representatives6.1
Office Managers3.1
Customer Service Representatives2.4
Administrative Assistants3.2

When you look at the data, this effect is especially bad for writers: it can take 10+ days to hear back from a job application. But, it can be even worse for others: for nurses (not shown), it takes 30+ days on average to hear back from a job application.


@DameWritesalot called it: #FML. Right?

Here’s the thing. Whatever the official unemployment numbers say, it’s really hard to get a job right now. (It’s been really hard for awhile, actually.) There’s lots of reasons why and there’s even a few things you can do about it, but there’s something even more important I want everyone to understand—

The #1 thing I hear personally (and the #1 issue our amazing TalentAdvocates work with at TalentWorks) is just how depressing the job search is. Whether people say it or not, you can see it in their eyes and hear it in their words: “Is there something wrong with me?”

So, please hear me say this:

There isn’t anything wrong with you. There are good, reasonable, scientific explanations for why it’s so hard to get a job right now. And even though people don’t talk about it, it’s hard for everyone.

Stay strong, folks.

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Where Are All The Missing Workers? Hiring Shortages Throughout the United States

Getting a job is hard. Nearly 79% of graduating college seniors didn’t have a job and 44% of twenty-somethings are under-employed. More than ever, it’s harder to get a job.

For years, people have been telling Millennials that we should study programming or get a STEM degree to get a better job. And while there are good jobs for software engineers and others in STEM, there are also good jobs in other fields.

In fact, not only are there good jobs, there are good jobs that companies can’t fill fast enough with people — for everything from accountants to lawyers to nurses to travel agents, everywhere from Austin to Salt Lake City to Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Hiring shortages in the United States: Since the inauguration, nearly 60% of job postings for lawyers and paralegals in Washington D.C. are going unfilled.

For the past two years, we’ve been indexing millions of jobs every month across thousands of job boards. Using this data, not only can we tell you where the in-demand, high-paying jobs are, but we can also tell you exactly which of those jobs companies can’t fill fast enough:

Hiring shortage for lawyers: Major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco

For example, since inauguration, it turns out that there’s been a huge surge in demand for lawyers and paralegals in Washington, D.C. In the past few months, nearly 60% of paralegal jobs by D.C. firms are going unfilled. Whatever your politics — Democrat or Republican, Libertarian or Green — if you’re a legal professional looking for a job, you’re going to have good luck in D.C. New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles are close seconds.

(Whatever you do though, don’t move to Texas. Like most states, there aren’t many legal jobs outside of the major cities, but most legal jobs in Texas get filled very quickly, meaning there’s more supply than demand of lawyers in Texas.)

Hiring shortage for accountants: Fast-growing, entrepreneurial cities like LA, Boston & Seattle.

Accountants, on the other hand, are having a great time in Seattle, Boston and Los Angeles — unsurprisingly, these are some of the fastest-growing, most entrepreneurial cities in the country.

Hiring shortage for licensed nurses: Providence, Salt Lake City and Chattanooga.

Licensed nurses? Check out Providence, Salt Lake City and Chattanooga.

We’ve been using this data internally for months, but we’re making this public to everyone now for the first time. If you want to see how painful your job search will be, plan for future career directions or just browse hiring shortages in general, check out

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