Why a Hit-or-Miss Approach to Job Search Won't Increase Your Chances of Landing a New Job

Greg Simpson Blog

trash can and crumpled paper

The headline pretty much said it all.

“How Not to Get a Job.”

That cryptic headline sat atop a recent article in the New York Times that described the trials and tribulations of the owner of a public relations firm who posted a job opening on a series of online job boards, including Indeed and Linkedin.

The results were, well, a bit odd.

“What do a fragrance designer, New York City cop, bed-and-breakfast manager and youth hockey coach have in common?” asked Allan Ripp, owner of the New York-based Ripp Media.

“Each of them recently applied for an account director position at my public relations firm, along with 500 others whose experience and skill sets ranged from vaguely on-point to off-the-charts irrelevant. Auto collections manager? Home health aide? Visual merchandiser? Count them all in.”

It has long been understood that the easy access to online job postings—a true digital innovation that has fundamentally changed the way we navigate our careers—has a dark side: spam.

Easy access to online job postings has apparently convinced people that it’s a good idea to send resumés out to as many potential employers as possible, regardless of whether they are qualified or not. The end result of this hit-or-miss strategy is not a surge in the number of people landing jobs, but rather a massive increase in the time it takes employers to sort through the spam.

The recruiters we talk to at LHH report that at least 50 percent of job seekers that apply for jobs online don’t meet the basic qualifications as outlined in the original post.

Greg SimpsonSVP, Career Transition Practice Leader
Ripp did not hold back when describing the trend materializing in his inbox.

Ripp described the online job marketplace as a place where “restless applicants shoot off their résumés like one of those T-shirt cannons at a football stadium, firing without aiming. Not a single candidate bothered to look us up and refer to what we do in the cover note. Instead, they all invoked grand boilerplate statements meant to impress the hiring gods.”

For individual job seekers, the article about Ripp Media should serve as a loud wake-up call. If you’re like many, you’ve been posting a lot of resumés on a lot of sites and not getting much in return. If you fall into that category, it’s time to ask yourself: am I guilty of spamming employers?

The recruiters we talk to at LHH report that at least 50 percent of job seekers that apply for jobs online don’t meet the basic qualifications as outlined in the original post. And LHH research indicates that of all those responding to online job posts, somewhere between three and 10 percent actually secure a job.

If your online applications and/or resumes are vanishing into a digital black hole, it’s time to step back and evaluate your approach and make adjustments that will improve your chances of actually getting an interview for a job you applied for online.

You’ve got to ask yourself some really tough questions. Are you really qualified for that job you saw online? Do you really think you may be selected as one of the best-qualified candidates?
 
If you answer ‘no’ to both questions, don’t waste your time applying. With thousands of candidates applying for all the choice jobs posted online, your time will be better spent on other search methods, such as securing introductions and referrals through networking, engaging with search firms or staffing companies, or attending job fairs.

If you decide to apply online, increase your odds by selecting “niche” job boards that specialize in your profession, industry, location or salary level. Look to see if you have an opportunity to apply through company websites where the volume of applications might be lower. Before submitting your application, check your network to see if you have any existing connections into the organization, or know someone who can make an introduction.

Most importantly, conduct a careful point-by-point comparison of your qualifications and the requirements for the position before applying.

For example, if the job requires six years of experience and you have four, go for it. However, if the position specifically requires “six years of outside sales experience” and you don’t have any, move on.

To maintain job search momentum, limit the amount of time spent on job boards and be realistic and strategic in responding to online postings.

Remember, a targeted approach will beat a hit-or-miss approach every time.

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