The 80-20 Rule for Career Development

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Jon was interested in improving himself and he started reading several books and magazines on success and personal development.  In his readings he came across an article where Brian Tracy mentioned the 80-20 rule.  Tracy would refer to this concept in many situations, but in particular he spoke about 80 percent of the sales in any industry is accomplished by 20 percent to the sales force.  Intrigued by these statistics, Jon decided to further investigate this concept.

It turns out that this concept is attributed to Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto.  In 1906, Pareto used a mathematical formula to describe the distribution of wealth within Italy where 20% of the citizens secured 80% of the wealth.  This was originally known as Pareto’s Principle, but since this formula has become applicable to many other situations, it is now commonly referred to as the 80-20 Rule.

This concept can also be applied to job applicants in the world of college sports.  From my 25+ years of experience in hiring coaches and administrators in college sports, I have noticed that approximately 20 percent of the applicants were both qualified and had professional-looking promotional materials.  In contract, 80 percent of the applicants either did not meet the minimum qualifications for the position or their resume and cover letter was not professional in nature.

You can’t blame a person for applying for a job even if they don’t meet the minimum qualifications, but submitting a resume or cover letter that isn’t professional is inexcusable.  When applying for a job, a person will want to know the basic fundamental processes for the job search process.  This includes knowing your strengths and weaknesses, putting together a quality sales pitch, developing a simple and clear resume, and creating an outstanding cover letter.  These are the minimums, yet far too many people in the job search process either cut corners or they haven’t learned the proper techniques for securing a job.  Learn from Jon’s research and Brian Tracy’s suggestions – to get hired in this tough economy you must become one of the top 20%.  You will want to apply for jobs you’re qualified for, and apply for these jobs using a solid sales pitch, cover letter, and resume.

Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!


Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at


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