Don't let conventional wisdom derail your job search

by SixFigureStart | September 02, 2009

  • My Vault
Ever wondered about the relative dangers of following conventional wisdom? Well, wonder no longer. It's officially dangerous and—in terms of your job hunt—could mean you miss out on some all-important opportunities. What do I mean? Well, take a look at the following list of the 10 easiest cities in the world to find a job, as identified by a sampling of some 10,000* survey-takers the world over:

1) Sydney
2) New York
3) Toronto
4) London
5) San Francisco
6) Los Angeles
7) Melbourne
8) Vancouver
9) Chicago
10) Boston

Source: Anholt-GfK City Brands Index 2009

Notice anything strange? Yup, they're all in English-speaking countries. And, yup, at least two of the cities—New York and London—have been ground zero for economic fallout on their respective continents, housing as they do two of the worst-hit financial centers anywhere in the world.

As poll founder Simon Anholt put it in a recent phone interview, "the findings are really quite interesting because they’re quite dramatically different from reality." He went on to point out that the poll—conducted in spring 2009 and collated over the summer—is a reflection of sentiment the world over, and as such does a good job in demonstrating just how little impact events such as the recession have on people's perceptions (i.e. the conventional wisdom) of where they'd find it easiest to find gainful employment.

The results, Anholt says, "suggest that people aren't really thinking very hard about the current economic situation" in deciding where they would target a job search, adding that "there's a bit of wishful thinking going on—people are thinking it's not just easy to get a job there, but it would be good to get a job there."

Happily, the good folks over at Simply Hired have recently compiled a couple of lists of their own, based on slightly harder facts than mere opinion. Their 15 best and worst US metro areas for finding a job are based on the number of open positions divided by the number of active jobseekers within each market. As such, a completely objective picture emerges and—surprise, surprise!—the conventional wisdom in the sentiment-based poll is turned almost completely on its head. Of the five American cities that conventional wisdom says are among the 10 easiest places to get hired in the world, only one—Boston—makes the Simply Hired Top 15 in the U.S.!

Even worse, two of the cities on the global list—New York and L.A.—appear in the bottom 15 places that Simply Hired reckons you'd have a chance of finding a job.

While the "wishful thinking" that Anholt identifies as a factor that affects how people perceive the world around them is certainly understandable, it's important not to get caught up in it. And not letting it derail your job search is critical. Sure, you might not feel that Des Moines or Omaha are as exciting or attractive as New York or L.A., but the bare facts suggest you'd be much better off looking for jobs in the two former cities (with one open job for every five job seekers) than in the latter two (one in 20, and one in 25 respectively).

Bottom line: ignore the conventional wisdom—even if it's your own—and especially at a time like this. Go with the proven odds: the 20 percent chance of landing any job you apply for in Nebraska rather than the five percent chance in Manhattan.

*An earlier version of the post mistakenly stated that there were 20,000 survey takers.

--Posted by Phil Stott, Vault Staff Writer

Close button

Get tips on interviewing, networking, resumes, and more directly to your inbox.

No Thanks

Get Our Career Newsletter

Interview, resume and job search tips emailed directly to you.