Using the 80/20 Rule for Your Job Search

WHAT IS THE 80/20 RULE?

The 80/20 rule is a mathematical concept created by an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto. In 1896, he observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.  Well, it turns out that the 80/20 concept is almost like a rule of the universe. It describes so many situations that it’s now called Pareto’s law. 

  • 80% of a company’s revenues are generated by 20% of its customers. 
  • 80% of complaints come from 20% of customers.
  • 20% of employees use 80% of all sick days.
  • 20% of the members of a team produce 80% of the work. 
  • 80% of users of any software typically only use 20% of its capabilities. 
  • In 2002, Microsoft reported that 80% of the errors and crashes in Windows and Office were caused by 20% of the bugs involved. And even more stunning – 1% of the bugs caused half of all errors. 

The generalization is that 80% of results come from 20% of the actions. 

HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO YOUR JOB SEARCH?

  • If a company is interested in hiring you, the hiring manager should assume that you can already do 80% of the work, and will need to learn the other 20%. Maybe you worked in accounting at a similar company, but have never done it with Oracle software. 
  • If you are considering a job offer, you should be confident that you can step into the role and perform 80% of the duties from the first day. You will need to learn the remaining 20%. Maybe you have done job costing in the construction industry, but not in manufacturing. 

HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO EXTENDING OR ACCEPTING AN OFFER?

If you are a hiring manager, think about the 80/20 rule when considering how a candidate might quickly perform in the job. You want that person to stay engaged because they have the opportunity to learn new things. 

If you are a person applying for the job, you need to make sure that you will not become overwhelmed when you start work because so much of it is new. If you can already do about 80% of a job, you can learn the other 20%.