Gone are the days of getting the first, second or third job you apply for. In the current economic climate, I’ve found there’s a 6:1 rule with converting to the next stage.

This means that if you apply for 6 jobs, you might get an interview for 1. If you’ve had 6 interviews, you might get 1 offer. In other words, you might have to apply for 36 jobs in order to get that one offer.

This ratio isn’t constant. It fluctuates depending on the numbers of jobs available and the availability (and quality) of the other candidates. In other words: relative competition.

Another surprising statistic: in my experience, about 50% of all jobs end up getting withdrawn, unfilled or cancelled.

Having said all this, sending out applications for inappropriate work does not increase your chances. It actually decreases your odds of getting an offer, as you’ll be getting knocked back more often. But you need to reach the interview stage to show that you’ve got the skill, experience or personality which fits just one degree better than the other candidates. Or to be there as the second-choice candidate when the first choice takes another role or falls off a chair. There’s no shame in being a successful second-choice candidate.

Only the most experienced job-seekers can go through this like ducks with waterproof coats. The rest of us fret, wonder what we did wrong, search for the magic button that will guarantee the next job is ours, and feel belittled by perceived rejection. There’s no way around that.

I see a lot of candidates become distressed, anxious and despairing during their job hunt. My advice is to have a strategy for picking yourself up (e.g. gardening, getting in touch with friends, writing a novel); to weigh and consider any feedback, ideas or suggestions; and to be patient. Finding a job isn’t like a stroll to the corner shop. It’s more like orienteering through the unknown back streets of a city.

If you fret and let it get you down, you’ll end up in a blind alley. Remember to stay focused, optimistic and clear headed, and you’ll get there.

Lyneve is a recruitment agent at TechWriter, a recruitment agency for documentation specialists. She has 8 years in recruiting, loves hazelnut chocolate and judicious use of semi-colons.