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.

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Comment by Keith Plesha on August 5, 2011 at 9:49am

My point was not to emphasize my was to point out that you can't work with or help everyone.  Putting screening questions in place for posted positions is the easiest way to keep unqualified candidates from taking up more of your time as a recruiter.  I'm dealing with at the minimum 25-40 new candidates a day easily.  I'm involved in every interview that takes place meaning that at least 4 hours of any given day is spent in physical interviews (that is not including phone screens).  If a candidate is not good for our company, do I spend extra time with them so they might land a job at another company?  Maybe that person will remember me or correlate my advice to them getting a job and refer people to me in the future or, better yet, improve their skills so I hire them at a later date.  This scenario doesn't work out in the same way it would on the agency side as it does on the corporate side (ie. it is far less likely for me to hire that person as our job requirements don't staffing requirements change regularly depending on the client). 


On the flipside, I do help out quite a few individuals looking for help on my own time.  I do not view helping others that are of no interest to my company on company time as part of my job.  That is something I can do on my own time.  However, we do allow student organization to tour our facility and learn more of what we do.  We also go to several college campuses throughout the year to hold mock interview sessions to help those looking for jobs better hone their interviewing skills.  I'm not saying to be a heartless recruiter, but you absolutely need to pick your battles in order to stay efficient.

Comment by Valentino Martinez on August 5, 2011 at 3:28pm

@Brian--You're a scholar and a gentleman.

Cute kid...clearly mom's looks dominate.

@Keith--Good to hear this--that you're a busy bee in a discipline that you're good at and getting better.  Just know sometimes the work can harden the heart... By the way, my daughter is a newly minted MSW degreed Social Worker ready to fight the good fight in the toughest of neighborhoods in E. St. Louis.--and I'm so proud of her. 

Regardless, I happen to know that deep down there is a teddy bear lurking in your wiring. 


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