Challenging career switches and vanity metrics

Folks who are attempting challenging career switches (top graduate school or some combination of industry, function, location change) often make a mistake that turns out to be debilitating for their search. They index highly on “conversion rate.”

You know this is happening when the internal dialog is – “I applied to 7 places and no one / only one person got back to me.” They’re implicitly calculating a conversion rate of 0/7 or 1/7. While that may be bad for a standard job search, conversion rate is just a vanity metric in challenging searches.

You could have applied to 100 places for all I care – what matters is finding that ONE place that will give you a shot. A focus on conversion rate is, thus, a recipe for giving up too quickly. Having made this mistake myself, I can’t overstate the importance of avoiding it.

If you are convinced the challenging career switch is right for you, your most important allies are grit – passion and perseverance – and a growth mindset. As long as you are learning from your missteps and improving your approach, one opportunity will eventually show up.

And, all it takes is for one to work out.