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Applying for Jobs with the Shotgun Approach

Have you been sending out tons of resumes and getting few, if any, interviews?  While there could be a variety of reasons, one in particular stands out to me recently as a result of assisting other hiring managers in my organization with screening resumes and interviewing applicants for a variety of openings.

As I’ve been screening resumes (mostly for IT professional positions), I’ve particularly noticed how many applicants have insufficient experience and/or qualifications for the positions to which they’re applying.  In some cases they have no practical IT experience, yet are applying for relatively senior technical positions.  So what’s going on here?

The answer, I suspect, is that these job seekers are using the scatter-gun approach.  By this, I mean applying for every job opening they find, regardless of whether or not they are qualified.  The theory here is that if you throw enough resumes out there you’re bound to eventually get a few interviews, so they apply for dozens and dozens of openings.  Worse yet, it obvious that many of these resumes are generic and have not been specifically tailored to match the position.

It’s tempting to think that job searching is simply a numbers game and the more jobs to which you apply, the better your chances of getting an interview.  In reality this is for the most part of waste of time.  The job market is still very competitive and most employers have no trouble getting a large number of qualified applicants for every position they post.  Resumes with little relevant experience will receive no more than a cursory review before being tossed aside.

If you’re using the scatter-gun approach, you’ll be far better off spending your time ferreting out those openings for which you at least have competitive qualifications.  Then, spend the rest of your time customizing your resume and cover letter so that they look like they were written exclusively for the exact position to which you are applying – which, by the way, they should.

Yes, you’ll be applying for far fewer jobs, which I know seems counter-intuitive when you’re job searching.  But applying to five jobs in this manner will yield better results than applying to 100 jobs using the scatter-gun approach.   You’ll probably spend about as much time but it will be far more productive time.

As a hiring manager, I love reading resumes from applicants who are not only qualified but have stated those qualifications in a way that closely matches the requirements of the position.  These are the resumes I read carefully and these are the applicants who get the interviews.

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