Job Seekers: Stop Working So Hard!


I had someone apply for 15 of our job openings the other day. Fifteen! And all the job openings called for completely different skill requirements. Before even opening this person’s resume I’m thinking: What a waste of my time. Just seeing those 15 messages in my inbox, I was completely turned off. I didn’t even want to look at his resume, but I did. Sure enough, this was not a candidate I could market or present to any of my job openings. His resume bared no resemblance to any of my postings. What was he thinking?


They say job hunting is a “numbers game,” and that is partially true. It usually takes more than one application to equal a placement. However, too many people are taking this concept to the extreme. This job seeker was probably thinking: “If I apply to all of these jobs, one of them has got to be a match,” or “If I send my resume to 100 job postings, one of them will stick.”


Instead of reading each job description, considering his qualifications, and highlighting the relevant experience in his resume, this applicant simply flooded our database with 15 separate job inquiries. This “flooding” can be very frustrating to hiring managers as it is a huge waste of time and it slows down the process for candidates who are actually qualified.


When I notice an applicant who clearly did not read or comprehend what I was asking for in my job posting, it creates a very poor impression of that person. Why would I want to hire someone like that? Someone who does not follow instructions, or who does not value my time? Whether you are a recruiter, in human resources, or the hiring manager, this can be very frustrating.


If you read my job postings and don’t see a match, but you want me to have your resume to consider for future job openings, just tell me. Put a note in your email or add a line at the top of your resume that says something like, “I have read your job postings, but please keep my resume on file for future help desk positions.”


Here is a tip for all you job seekers: stop working so hard! Don’t apply to 15, 50, 100 jobs just to see what happens. Take charge of your search. Don’t waste your time filling out paperwork and interviewing for jobs that are not a good match for you. Narrow down your applications to no more than three to five at a time and make them count.


Create a customized cover letter that highlights your relevant experience and qualifications. Don’t send a generic cover letter to every job posting boasting that you’re a “perfect match.” Back up these broad statements with facts like, “I am a strong candidate for your systems administrator position because…”  Show me that you have the specific skills I am looking for. 


Then, tailor your resume to the position at hand. If a job looks like a good match and you meet many of the qualifications, make sure your resume reflects this! I am surprised at how few people do this. Stop sending the same resume all over town. Your resume should be a reflection of your qualifications to the position for which you are applying. Make it as obvious as possible that you deserve the hiring agents time for a personal interview. The more tailored your cover letter and resume are to my job description and needs, the more likely I am to interview you. 


Start working smart in your job search so you don’t have to apply to 15, 50, or 100 job postings. Spend time narrowing down your options, selecting the right positions, and then give it all you’ve got. Recruiters and hiring managers can tell when you are a serious applicant and when you are just flinging resumes to see what sticks. Stop working so hard, and start landing a good job by working smart.

Views: 2081

Comment by Megan Flynn on July 28, 2011 at 3:47pm
I actually use CATS as my applicant tracking database, and Louis' post might help anyone who has this problem. Candidates can still apply as many time to as many positions as they want, but using those triggers saves you, the recruiter, a ton of time by not having to respond to each application personally. If they do not meet one of the requirements for your job (for me, every candidate MUST have a Top Secret government clearance), then they will automatically receive an email that you can write yourself telling them that they are not in consideration for that position- or whatever you decide to have in that email.
Comment by StaffingStarr on July 28, 2011 at 4:17pm

Louis, I'm using Tempworks which has very limited functionality.  If I post on Monster and Careerbuilder, I use custom questionnaires to help with screening applicants.

Comment by Keith Plesha on July 28, 2011 at 4:18pm

A good majority of these issues can be solved by having an ATS in place.  We use Taleo and I could care less how many jobs someone submits their resume too because I have setup questions they must be answered for each position plus "knockout" questions that will immediately eliminate them from consideration.  It sounds to me like several of you either don't fully utilize your ATS or simply don't have one that is worth a darn.  I don't know how I would have survived in the contract realm without one.  You should take your own advice Julie and stop working so hard...AUTOMATE!


My other point has to do with the topic.  Why are we posting job seeker advice on a recruiter dominated forum?  Obviously it's nice to have information that you can share with your candidates from other recruiters, but this is written as half-venting and half-advice...advice to the wrong people reading as Jeremy pointed out.

Comment by Louis Bina on July 28, 2011 at 4:23pm
@Denise. Excellent. As long as you have some sort of tool to help you screen! @ Keith, I believe it is posted here because this is a community site where industry professionals are welcome to vent and share their experiences.
Comment by Mary Huelsman on July 28, 2011 at 6:29pm
I totally empathize, Julie.  I know these are desperate times for very many job seekers, but this does not speak well for the candidate and is very irritating for the recruiter.  Unfortunately, this is not new behavior.
Comment by Valentino Martinez on July 29, 2011 at 2:24am

I happen to be one of those rare individuals, and I'm not alone--who can do multiple jobs at the same time. 

Therefore, employers should look to engage such talent, particularly for jobs that can be done by one person.  And don't tell me that that's not happening now.  Hasn't management delayed so many employees in the past couple of years that three employees are doing what six and a half employees did in 2009?

Comment by Julie Link on July 29, 2011 at 9:38am

@Keith, I share this advice with my candidates on, but I wanted to share this with the recruiter community so they could share it with their candidates, or even add advice or share their own experiences. 

@Valentino, I work with several candidates who wear multiple hats in their jobs, and I think that's great.  The problem is when their resume highlights their Network Engineer skills even though they're applying for a SQL DBA job.  They go on and on about configuring routers, switches, and firewalls, but only mention that they did some work with SQL databases.  I'm not saying that you're not a fit for more than one job, just that you need to showcase your experience and accomplishments that are relevant to the position for which you are applying.

Comment by Julie Link on August 4, 2011 at 11:04am

@Brian, I understand what you are saying, but I also think it's our job as recruiters to educate our candidates on how to improve their job search.  Many candidates are extremely frustrated because they are not getting responses from companies, and I am trying to help them increase their response rates.  This is why I don't screen candidates out through a VMS, because we get so many job openings with so many companies, they might be a fit for one of my other positions now or in the future.  Don't you agree?

Comment by Keith Plesha on August 4, 2011 at 5:28pm
@Julie: You aren't grasping the use of the screener questions.  The point is to rule the candidate out for a specific job and not from your database entirely (though there will be those that you wish to eliminate the one who just applies to keep his/her unemployment benies coming in).  Make those candidates answer specific questions pertaining to the scope of the job.  If they can't come up with viable answers, you move onto the next.  If I flatout rule someone out, they are not good for any of my positions.  I'm a corporate recruiter so I know ALL the roles within my organization of 230+.  I do have a "future's folder" that I keep for people that are maybe too junior for the role or I want to track them for future endeavors.  The problem is too often recruiters at placement firms act more as social workers than recruiters; taking too many wounded souls under their wing.  But at the same time, those are the people you make your commissions off.  I don't make commissions from placements so helping that individual interview better in the future is absolutely not my concern.  My allegiance is to my employer, not the candidate.  Corporate vs. staffing firm is a completely different debate though.  And as Brian said (in so many words), job seekers are just getting lazy because recruiters are allowing them to.  Applying to multiple jobs without having to fill out questionnaires is probably the best example of allowing them to be lazy...causing you the recruiter to do far more work.
Comment by Valentino Martinez on August 4, 2011 at 5:54pm

@Keith, while I understand your allegiance is to your employer and not the candidate.  I'm not so sure the mercenary philosophy is what all employers embrace, particularly in recruiters who carry the company flag.  I think they value both dynamics--a recruiter who can get their jobs filled; and one who can be sensitive to the plight of job applicants who take the time to apply for jobs they feel they qualify for. 


No, you don't have to hold their hands or even spend an extra minute to wish them luck.  But being dismissive of them and recruiters who empathize with "wounded souls" will distinguish you among your peers.  If that matters.


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