Thursday, December 01, 2005


We, the lightbulbs of France

We've all heard (not lately) the classic "how many [target group of your choice] does it take to change a lightbulb?" (Answer: Three, one to hold the lightbulb and two to turn the ladder). A colleague a few years ago had a variant: "How many social scientists does it take to replace a lightbulb? Social scientists don't replace lightbulbs, they try to find out why the last one burned out!"

In a recent edition of the magazine "Courrier Cadres", a reader asked "How many unemployed turn down valid jobs offers? Out of how many offers?". Jean-Pierre Fine, Secretary General of the APEC (association for the employment of "cadres", or managers) replied that the APEC doesn't generate offers, they provide advice and information so that the unemployed can search fruitfully.

They do publish some stats in their magazine though, which give an indication: by category, the average number of candidate per job posting. Not all applicants are necessarily unemployed, however, so this does not measure the odds of getting a job, but since I suspect there to be a bias among hiring firms in favor of the employed over the unemployed (both because that could mean they are more immediately operational, and more successful) the odds are probably even worse than these!

2.1 Production Director (industry) 80
3.2 Supply chain: logistics, purchasing90
3.3 Methods, Quality Control and Assurance80
4.3 R & D Project Mgmt. 50
5.1 Marketing, Sales Director100
5.3 Marketing130
5.7 Sales70
8.2 Audit, Controller100
9.1 Informatics Director130

On the other hand, of course, if there are 154 offers per month in a category, and 100 candidates per offer, it could be that the same 100 people are applying, and there are 1.5 vacancies per candidate! Given the specificities required, however, it seems very unlikely that the same candidates could vie for all jobs.

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