Developing Your Career

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Are You Qualified for the Job or Guilty of Job Board Spamming?

By Greg Simpson on August 7, 2014

We’ve all been on the receiving end of spam—those annoying bulk emails that clog our inboxes and try our patience. There is a job search equivalent: job seekers spamming job boards by applying for anything and everything to see what sticks. It’s not surprising when job hunters conducting an unfocused search complain about the underwhelming lack of response to their online applications.

If your online applications aren’t netting results, you may be guilty of spamming employers—that is, indiscriminately applying for jobs that are beyond—or different from—your scope of qualifications. In fact, recruiters report that at least 50 percent of job seekers don’t meet even the basic qualifications for the jobs they’re pursuing.

If it seems as if your online applications and/or resumes are vanishing into a black hole, it’s time to step back and evaluate your approach and make adjustments that will improve your online rate of return (i.e., interviews as a percentage of applications). LHH research indicates that job seekers should expect an overall success rate of only three to 10 percent for online applications.

If you’ve responded to countless postings, ask yourself if you’re really qualified for all of those positions. Do you really think you’re the best-qualified candidate? If not, don’t waste your time applying. With hundreds—often thousands—of candidates applying for each position, your time may 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 “boutique” websites 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. Conduct a careful side-by-side comparison of your qualifications and the requirements for the position before determining if you’re going to apply. 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. Before submitting your application, check your network to see if you have any connections into the organization, or know someone who can make an introduction.

A targeted approach beats a shotgun approach every time. To maintain job search momentum, limit the amount of time spent on job boards and be realistic and strategic in responding to online postings.

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