5.4? You're Hired!

Steven Kneiser
3-minute read

Recruiters tell everyone to apply
but what are your realistic chances?

Too many aspirational LinkedIn posts
Not enough data

  1. Let’s.
  2. Get.
  3. Quantitative.

Mental Calculating

“WOAH, haven’t I seen that number before?”
– me, skimming multiple PDFs at 3am

Had the planets aligned for a moment?
Save it for your horoscope

Seriously though,
look through my microscope

Can you guess?


I don’t need sleep

👏 I

5.4 Candidates

“On average, a vacancy receives between 118 and 250 responses or resumes. On average, employers want to interview only 5.4 candidates. Getting that stack of 118 to 250 down to 5.4 is the employer’s first preoccupation.”
– What Color Is Your Parachute?

This is why we ended up
with The HR-Industrial Complex™

Teams today see much larger numbers,
but that just means more steps
& more filters along the way

Now how they filter often snowballs from a chaotic process that is sensitive to the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Australia. Often it’s as simple as an over-worked, under-paid recruiter on a tight deadline. Last Monday, somewhere in a big city near you, a recruiting contractor slid out of bed, gulped down their coffee of choice, & avoided their boss for an hour while they chaotically scrolled through a spreadsheet, ignoring the dozens/hundreds of emails+DMs piling up.

Recruiters are on the clock
& every minute counts

[if they want to clock out before 5pm]

Getting that stack down
“is the employer’s first preoccupation”
…which means, for many employees,
it’s their entire occupation

Don’t worry, there are ways around this

Recruiters operate
like a thick, non-newtonian fluid

Non-newtonian Fluid

You may have seen videos of people running across the surface of this “liquid”. It’s behavior is super unintuitive: if you strike it quickly, this fluid bounces off like a solid. If you rest against it, you will slowly sink into it like quicksand. In much the same way, recruiters unintentionally bounce out anyone who quickly flies by with a resume, while those who stay close for a long time (or give that appearance) start to feel more familiar in a world of neverending change. Those are the candidates they sense are serious about their company & up for the task.

Once they toss those candidates over the fence, the team can now justify the time investment of spending time with each candidate. Despite all the faces, at the end of the process you’re likely being compared to only ~4.4 others (& that’s assuming they only hire 1, which probably isn’t the case the larger the company).

I like those odds!

5.4 Stakeholders

“In a survey of over 3,000 stakeholders involved in a typical B2B purchase, we found that customers themselves report an average of 5.4 different people formally involved in a typical purchase decision.
– The Challenger Customer

Okay, 5.4 people “formally involved”
so what does that tell us?

First, that’s 5.4 chances to say “No”

Your job (pun intended) isn’t to patiently make your case for “why me” to 5.4 people, but to expand the scope of your case to suit 5.4 different motivations

Different motivations? You may ask
Heck yeah, different motivations!

Not only should you consider personality differences, but incentive differences as well. Most of us aren’t parallelizing anymore: we aren’t hammering nails together. Each company is a spaceship where different people monitor different stations.

What pays for one doesn’t pay for another
(& some don’t even care about pay as much)

They might have “aligned incentives”,
but how do you get this gut reaction


out of more than 1 person?

5.4 seconds

Okay, I made this one up
…& I’m not the only one

(BONUS) 5.4 attempts

If at first you don’t succeed,
try again

I couldn’t farbricate a fradulent statistic here even if I wanted to, but this strategy is severely underrated. If you’ve found a company that you feel is worth the effort, never underestimate the life-changing magic of following-up. You don’t always have to walk in the front-door.

Don’t get lost in the numbers

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