Job Hunting and The 10000 Hour Rule

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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Originally Published on Linkedin

Most of us have heard of the 10,000 rule popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book. “Outliers: The Story of Success.”

The 10000 Hour Rule and Job HuntingIn it, he tells the story of The Beatles, Bill Gates, and others who expended great effort over periods of time which, remarkably, added up to 10,000 hours of practicing their craft and became experts and successes.

Some have quibbled with Gladwell claiming that he simplified the original source material of Anders Ericcson who described it as 10,000 hours of deliberate practice under the supervision of devoted teachers.

And when you start a job search, you have about how much cumulative time practicing your craft?

Resume writing? How much time have you spent engaging in the deliberate practice of writing a resume?

Or practicing how to interview?

Or networking well?

How about engaging in salary negotiations?

Some of you who have worked or are in management roles may correctly respond, “I’ve hired a lot of people in my career. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people that must surely count for something.”

Unfortunately, it seems like your experience is like watching someone play golf—you have an intellectual idea of what to do but can’t deliver consistently in ways that will ensure that you address the ball like Jordan Spieth does, let alone drive it as well as he does.

And even if it were transferable, how does that help you with all the other facets of a job search?

If you’re honest with yourself, you will finally admit to yourself that you are at best an amateur being led to the slaughter by employers and recruiters alike.

If you are not sure that that is true, please answer a few more questions.

When a company calls you about a job because they found your resume on a job board, your profile on LinkedIn, your resume was presented by a friend of yours who works for the hiring manager, do you think they have your interest in their mind or their own (HINT: It isn’t you. They want to hire someone to do something for them)?

Here’s question #2: When a recruiter represents you for a job to a client of theirs, whose interest is paramount in their thinking–Their client’s or yours (HINT: This is a trick question)?

The Answer is their own. They are thinking of the financial reward they receive when you are hired by their client and work there for 90 calendar days first and foremost. Making their corporate client happy is second and you are third.

“But they need me!”

There are many more of you than there are clients that will pay them. They work for their corporate client—the people that pays them.

That is the sad truth of job hunting—you are someone who is being managed through an applicant tracking system (by the way, never apply for a job through one) and everyone knows that what goes into a sausage machine are often unappealing.

What can you do to change things?

Start with this idea— Admitting that you lack experience is the first step to solving the problem.

Until you can face the fact that in a job search, you are the mark in a game of three monte (the person being set up to lose by con artists of a particular street game) you are in trouble.

Help is not a four-letter dirty word. It is not a sign of weakness or incompetence. It reflects the wisdom of knowing you need support to get to where you want. When you don’t do it, it is like the stereotype of men not asking for directions and getting lost. When you finally get a job offer, you accept it because you are thrilled to finally receive a job offer, rarely because the position is so good, the money is great, the job opportunity is so terrific or your potential with the firm so fabulous. People often just give up and resign themselves to accepting a job offer because they don’t want to look for a job anymore.

Practice will help you become better. Do you think great athletes or teams just run around and do stuff for the first time or do they practice for hours, days, weeks and months to do what they do. They practice a lot and earn millions! And you practice how much?

The more experience you get with writing a resume, tweaking your LinkedIn profile, interviewing and salary negotiation, the better you will become.

Asking the right people for advice is critical. Hire a coach. Usually, people ask friends, family, former bosses, ex-colleagues—people who have as much experience as they do (or less) for advice. Hiring a career coach to help you throughout the search will help you get advice from an expert who has no financial interest in which job you accept (unlike the agency recruiter who is talking/selling you into an opportunity they represent to you), nor will they benefit from your great performance after you join (expect if you refer people to them).

Job hunting doesn’t have to be hard, difficult, painful or take so long. The skills needed to find a job are different, yet, complement, the skills needed to do a job. You have to be firmly in charge and do your homework to excel during this and every phase of your career.


© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC  2016, 2021



Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2000 episodes and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a discovery call at my website,

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Job Hunting and The 10000 Hour Rule

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