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New job? I wouldn’t travel THAT far!

This is a short sharp reality checking article. A quick bit of back of the envelope arithmetic to highlight a problem with a simple assumption.

Over the weekend, I was speaking to someone who has been out of gainful employment for over 12 months now. He has been pursuing a CV scatter-gun approach, sending his generic CV with a very vaguely customised covering letter to every job he has seen advertised that just remotely might be something he could do.

He finds this tedious and depressing – because most of those prospective employers don’t even acknowledge receipt of the application. I tried to explain the alternative networking-based approach to finding someone who will create a job for you.

He suggested that there weren’t that many networking events in this area, that they were for people running businesses, and that he’d tried them and not found them at all helpful. Well, I can’t say about the last of these excuses, but the first two are simply not true.

Anyway, that’s not the point here. I said that if there weren’t many in the area, perhaps he needed to look a bit further afield. He told me that he was only prepared to commute 25 miles. He’d done much longer before and it ‘destroyed’ him, so he’d decided – when he was made redundant a year ago – that he wouldn’t travel any further than 25 miles.

OK. I’m not trying to argue with him, but I just want to point out to you, what the consequences are of such an arbitrary decision. Time for the back of the envelope…

Do you remember at school, that they taught us about something called “Pi”? If you are anything like me you’ve probably forgotten much about it and certainly never used it for anything practical. Well, the formula for the area of a circle is Pi times the radius of the circle squared.

Let’s assume (and I realise that it’s not accurate but it makes the point) that the distribution of people who might be able to create a job for you, is beautifully even right across the country. For the moment, forget about major conurbations, about local authorities seeding economic growth in pockets around their patch. We’ll just assume that the distribution is a bit like well sown seeds on a patch of lawn that you’re trying to regenerate. For simplicity, let’s guess that there is one potential employer per square mile.

To save you the effort, here’s the back of my envelope…

Radius Area Increase
5 79
10 314 4.00
15 707 2.25
20 1257 1.78
25 1964 1.56
30 2828 1.44
35 3849 1.36
40 5027 1.31
45 6363 1.27
50 7855 1.23

What this tells us, is that our friend who has said he’ll only ever consider a job 25 miles away has an area of 1964 square miles to search in. In other words, he is limiting his search to 1964 potential employers.

Suppose instead, that he increases his search by just 5 miles. This would mean that his search had expanded to 2828 square miles (and 2828 of our fictional employers). Just 5 miles increases the number of prospects by 44%.

Of course, there are constraints. Children at secondary school feature quite high in the lists of reasons for not moving. But I think we have to ask ourselves whether we want to continue to live on our rapidly diminishing reserves, with a constant reduction in the quality of our lifestyle, and what the impact of this will be on the opportunities that our children will have.

But the idea of going a little bit further doesn’t just apply to our job hunter in terms of distances to travel. The more you are prepared to go a little bit further, the easier it will be to find a new role.

Food, I hope, for thought.

Best wishes
Graham Wilson – 07785 222380
PS If you haven’t got it already, my free ebook, “The Senior Executive’s Emergency Job Hunt“, is available to download now.

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