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!

job-applicants-interview-rate-histogram.png

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]

going-back-to-school-job-search.png

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-discrimination-job-search-tip.png

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]

women-men-more-hireable-job-search.png

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

Ashley
Dana
Evelyn
Iris
Monica
Zoe

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]

adding-industry-buzzwords-resume-tip.png

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]

concrete-numbers-resume-tip.png

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]

apply-on-mondays-job-search-tip.png

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.

dont-be-team-player-resume-tip.png

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]

demonstrating-leadership-resume-tip.png

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:

communicated
coordinated
leadership
managed
organization

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]

personal-pronoun-resume-tip.png

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]

industry-buzzwords-total-number-resume-tip.png

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]

action-verbs-resume-tip.png

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.)

Summary

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!


Methodology

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.

Analysis

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.

Visualization

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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Limited Recovery From California Wildfires: The Economic Chaos of Natural Disasters, Part III

The wildfires that ran savage in Northern California this past October blazed through tens of thousands of acres in Sonoma and Napa County, causing billions of dollars of damage. However, unlike the hiring surges we saw after Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, we aren’t seeing many hiring surges in North California.

What’s going on?

Screenshot from 2017-11-07 13-52-21.png

Although we’re starting to see the beginning of a large demand forecast for architects and food service managers, we’re not seeing surging demand for mechanical engineers, nurses, project managers or much else.

Why Is This Disaster Different?

Senator Kamala Harris blasted the Trump Administration last week, protesting that California wasn’t included in their disaster relief budget:

https://www.harris.senate.gov/news/press-releases/harris-colleagues-press-senate-leadership-to-include-bipartisan-wildfire-funding-fix-in-upcoming-disaster-aid-legislation

There are similar billions of dollars in damage, but as many others have opined, the Trump Administration might be punishing a state that didn’t vote for it. (Unlike Texas and Florida, which both swung for Trump.)

[FIXME: Bake out.]

Food Service and Property Management Jobs

bokeh_plot (24)

Demand for both food service managers and property managers took an initial hit with the onset of the fire. I suppose no one was hiring while an unconstrained fire was still going on, but both jobs rose steady back to their all year high.

If your house has smoke or fire damage, it seems a reasonable time to start eating out everyday while your kitchen is replaced. Or perhaps you just decide to rent out an apartment until the house is livable. 8,000 people are currently displaced and living in temporary rentals.

Demand for property managers reached a peak of +241% and has shone no signs of dissipating. Similarly, demand for food service managers has hit +228% and also is still on the grow.

If you’re in the food service or property management profession, now is a good time to take your skills to Sonoma County and the surrounding Northern California area. 

Architecture & Drafting Jobs

bokeh_plot (25)

Demand for drafters increase to +98% and architects rise to +65% above average demand in Sonoma County.

Following both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma demand for architects and drafters went souring up. But in each of these cases, we saw these demands start only to increase around a month after the disaster.

4,658 homes were destroyed by the Tubbs wildfires. That number is between Houston’s 800 destroyed homes and the Florida Key’s 13,250 destroyed homes. Because of this, and the later starting date of the disaster, we forecast a sizable increased demand for architects and drafters.

If you’re an architect or drafter and you want to design new homes in Northern California, you should keep an eye on the job market there — they’re going to need you. Let us know or try ApplicationAssistant.


(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 52,866 job postings from the past 5 months in South Florida, covering 103 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.


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 two 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.

[*] 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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Hiring Is Surging Up To 3.2x After Hurricane Irma: The Economic Chaos of Natural Disasters, Part II

In its October report, the Department of Labor showed hiring had rebounded to normal after the hurricanes. Our last post showed that this was actually wrong: not only did it rebound, hiring surged 2.9x in some cases after Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

What about Hurricane Irma? What happened in Florida?

Screenshot from 2017-11-06 11-32-06

Compared to Texas, the surges are even more dramatic in Florida: for instance, demand for architects is surging by 3.2x, food service managers by 2.6x and claims examiners by 2.3x.

What’s the difference? And why is it happening? Let’s dig in a bit more.

Nursing & Medical Assistant Jobs

bokeh_plot (17)

185mph winds start knocking roofs off houses and throwing fully-grown trees through the air… it’s bound to hurt people. Right after Hurricane Irma, Florida governor Rick Scott pleaded for help: Florida needed 1,000 nurses to meet special needs in shelters across the state and they needed them now.

Medical needs don’t disappear the day after a hurricane hits. Demand for nurse practitioners, medical assistants and others surged up dramatically after Hurricane Irma. Although the surge has dissipated for most medical professions by now, demand is still up 1.4x for medical assistants in South Florida.

Hotel, Food Service & Property Management Jobs

bokeh_plot (18)

The luxury and hospitality industry was hit the hardest during September, but not evenly across the board.

Although many tourists decided to cancel plans in September, nearly 7 million people need to be evacuated from their homes and await for that order to be lifted. Some stayed in shelters, but many also went to hotels. We found post-hurricane demand was 1.5x for hotel managers and a staggering 2.6x for food service managers. Demand for food service managers are stilled increased by (1.7x pre-hurricane levels).

And although there’s an ongoing seasonal downturn for property management heading in the fall, we saw a brief but significant surge for property managers after Irma passed through. (If you can’t go home after an evacuation, where do you go? An apartment.) In just a few weeks, demand for property managers surged up by 90% in late September.

If you have experience in food service and are looking for a job, you need to look in South Florida — 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).

After the calamity comes the cost.

Insurance- and Finance-Related Jobs

bokeh_plot (22).png

As with Hurricane Harvey, right after Hurricane Irma passed through, we saw a huge 2.3x surge in demand for claims examiners. Analysts estimate $42.5-$65 billion in property damage caused by Hurricane Irma. $19 billion of this estimated damage is just in Florida.

After the claims come in and the examiners return from inspections, what happens? If you’re a big insurance firm and about to pay out $6+ billion in damages, you might need someone with the mathematical mojo to figure out how you’re going to move all that money. In recent weeks, we’re seeing a 2.0x demand surge for financial analysts.

If you’re in the Gulf Coast or South and are looking for a financial analyst job, you should consider taking a short-term role in Florida.

Construction-Related Jobs

Hurricane Irma damaged 65% of all homes in the Florida Keys. That’s a mind-boggling level of damage. Many people have written about the shortage of contractors, but what else is this impacting?

Just a week after the hiring spike of claims examiners around September 15th above, you can see below that the demand for cost estimators jump up by +23% in just a few days below.

bokeh_plot (20)

You can practically see people working together, figuring out what needs to get done and then making it happen step-by-step. And then:

Once the estimators finish, surveyors start getting at it. After spiking dramatically up in early October, demand for surveyors is still increasing and currently 1.5x pre-hurricane levels.

Simultaneously, you can see demand for project managers increasing to 1.6x with a pronounced spike occurring on October 7th. Although demand started dropping briefly, demand for construction project managers actually started increasing again and is currently at 1.8x pre-hurricane demand.

If you’re a construction project manager or surveyor looking for work near the Gulf Coast, you should check out South Florida.

Design, Architecture & Engineering Jobs

Just as we need good people rebuilding on the ground, we also need people developing plans for destroyed buildings, testing structural integrity and drafting blueprints.

bokeh_plot (23).png

The #1 surge in post-hurricane demand? Architects, surging 3.2x over pre-hurricane levels. Although the surge peaked on October 7th, demand for architects is still up 1.6x over pre-hurricane levels. Similarly, demand for drafters surged dramatically (1.8x pre-hurricane levels) and is still at all-time highs (1.5x pre-hurricane demand).

Demand for architects spiked in Houston after Hurricane Harvey as our last article displayed, but not nearly as surging as in the after mass of Hurricane Irma. Why?

Hurricane Harvey damaged over 200,000 homes, but only 800 were completely destroyed (still a horrifying number). In contrast, Hurricane Irma destroyed 25% of the 53,000 homes in the Florida Keys. That’s 13,250 homes that are just gone.

It’s the difference between flood damage vs. wind damage. And it’s also the difference in demand for architects between Florida and Texas.

If you’re an architect or drafter and you want to design (hurricane-proof) buildings, you should search in Florida — they need you. These are rare, specialized skills and they’re hurting. Let us know or try ApplicationAssistant.


(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 52,866 job postings from the past 5 months in South Florida, covering 103 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.


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 two 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.

[*] 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.

Did you like this post? Share it with your friends!

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.

houston-counselors-architects-project-managers-paralegals-hotel-managers.png

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

houston-counselors-nurses-aides-practitioners.png

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

houston-property-food-hotel-managers.png

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

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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?

houston-architect-drafter-civil-engineer.png

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%. 

houston-project-managers-estimators.png

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.

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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.)

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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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Getting Ghosted On Your Job Applications? Here’s Fix #1: Apply Within 96 Hours

You’ve been looking for jobs for weeks. You spend your days painstakingly customizing resumes and crafting cover letters. After each application, you sit by your inbox repeatedly clicking refresh, anxiously waiting for a reply. You wait, and you wait, and you wait… until you finally receive a form rejection letter or give up hope after weeks of not hearing back. You die a little inside each time.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but I think we can all agree getting ghosted for a job (or anything) sucks. So, how can you minimize your risk of getting ghosted on a job application? By applying to jobs during their “Golden Hour” (the first 96 hours after a job gets posted), you can reduce your chance of getting ghosted by up to 8x.

Timing matters. If you submit a job application in the first 96 hours, you’re up to 8x more likely to get an interview. After that, every day you wait reduces your chances by 28%.

We analyzed a sample of 1,600 job applications to determine the interview rate (the probability of getting an interview from one application) vs. when the application was submitted (the number of days between when the job was posted and when the application was submitted).

Here’s what we found. In short, you can think about the timing of your job application in three different stages:

  1. The “Golden Hour”: Applications submitted between 2-4 days after a job is posted have the highest chance of getting an interview. Not only is there a difference, there’s a big difference: you have up to an 8x higher chance of getting an interview during this period, even if you’re submitting the same application.
  2. The Twilight Zone: Things are going from OK to real bad quickly here. Every day you wait after the “Golden Hour” reduces your chances by 28%. The longer you wait, the higher the risk that employers have already checked their inboxes and setup interviews with candidates that met their “good enough” bar.
  3. The Resume Blackhole: Honestly, it’s almost not even worth applying after ~10 days. On average, in the Resume Blackhole, any one job application has a ~1.5% of getting an interview. Put another way, if you send out 50 job applications, you might hear back from one (if you’re lucky).

Why? This is a well-known phenomenon internally that we’ve been seeing for months at TalentWorks, but it fundamentally comes down to the psychology of hiring managers. If you’re an employer posting a job, you need someone for that job. And you probably need that person ASAP.

Logical or not, if you’re that hiring manager, you’re probably going to give it a few days for enough applications to come in and then look to see if there are any good applicants. If there are, hooray! You’ll interview a few folks, give one an offer, and then probably forget all about your job posting. (One reason why resume blackholes exist.) If there isn’t anyone good enough, you’ll probably make a mental note to check back again in a few days (the Twilight Zone).

From your (the job-seeker’s) perspective, it’s no bueno if your job application doesn’t arrive before that employer checks his inbox for the first time. Every hour and every day counts.

To summarize: Timing matters. A lot. You’re up to 8 times more likely to get an interview if you apply in the first 96 hours that a job is posted.

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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:

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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%
Designers8.3%
Writers6.8%
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
Designers6.9
Writers11.1
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.

#FML

@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.

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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:

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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.)

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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.

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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 http://talent.works/job-shortages-in-america.

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