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Short answer is: no!

I was reading this article on CNN:  I stopped looking for work

The article profiles several people who were really struggling in their job search and had given or were close to doing so. Clearly a very sad situation for them, but Iwas amazed to see how many job applications these people sent out. The first girl they profiled seems to have sent out over 1,100 applications, most others “several hundred” applications.

If you are in the market, it can take a few attempts, esp. if you skills, experience and profile are not ideal. In fact, you can churn out quite a few applications, but I am a firm believer in quality over quantity. 1000 rubber-stamp, under-researched applications will generate far fewer leads than 10 or 20 well researched and written applications. See my post on How not to become a job application spammer.

Generally, you should spend at least 6-8 hours on research, customizing your resume, crafting you cover letter and developing a networking strategy to learn about a job before even thinking about sending out an application.

If you find yourself in the position of having become an application spammer – I can see how that will happen in a long job search – you need to step back and reevaluate. Concentrate on the opportunities you can win, step away from those that are too far of a stretch.

Good luck!

Image by arnold | inuyaki

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This is the fourth and final post in our short series on developing your hiring pitch. The first postexplained what the hiring pitch is and what you need it for: a short, succinct summary of the most critical points of your candidacy that address the must-have and nice-have issues faced by the hiring manager. The second post explains in detail how to develop you talking points – by brainstorming strengths and then developing proof points to back them up. The third post explains how to customize your pitch for a specific job opening.

How to deliver your pitch in interviews and elsewhere

If you have followed the advice in the first three parts of this series you will have developed a specific pitch to use for each company or job interview. But how do you use your pitch? At what moment does it make sense? How do I avoid sound like I am over-selling?

The following spells out how to use your pitch in specific situations.

Using the pitch in interviews or casual discussions

Using your pitch in 1:1 conversations, with recruiters, influencers or even just contacts in your network, is tough but also the most important use of this vital tool. It would would sound corny, inappropriate and plain weird if you would use your pitch at the wrong moment, yet at the same time no one will ever say: “let me hear your pitch”. So when do you use it? Well, you need to weave it in opportunistically when you are presented an opening. You will typically be presented multiple openings, and they key is to recognize and them use them.

For example, a typical question asked in interviews is: “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” This is a perfect launch point for your pitch. Assuming you have 5 talking points in your pitch, your answer would start something like this: “I think I have 5 key strengths ..” then quickly high-light each talking point including the corresponding proof-point as discussed in Part 2. Of course, you should then also have a good answer to satisfy the weakness portion of the question, but that is the topic of a future post.

In some cases you will be only be able to weave in part of your pitch to satisfy a specific question, but be patient, there will be other opening to give your entire pitch.

Questions that give you an opening to deliver your pitch:

  • What are your strengths?
  • Tell me about yourself?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why are you a good fit for this job?

Using your pitch in a cover letter

Your pitch should be the central theme in your cover letter. We will discuss this in detail in yet another future post, but a cover letter should typically have 3 parts:

  1. Introductions - who your are and how you became aware of this job opening
  2. Your pitch – why your are a good candidate
  3. Closing -ask for an interview

As you can see, you pitch is the “meaty” part of your cover letter and should be at least 80% of the words on the page. Here you can carefully craft a written version of your pitch. Again, this should be designed to meet the job “specs”. Often, the best way to list your talking points is in the form 4-5 bullet points, each of which claims a key strength and is then backed-up by a proof point (see Parts 2 & 3).

Using your pitch in your resume

Your resume also needs to mirror your pitch, although much more subtly than your cover letter. Essentially, you should make sure that all proof points for your pitch listed in your cover letter is backed up by your resume.

This usually does not require major open heart surgery redesign of your resume, but rather dedicated much space to your proof-points, and deemphasizing stuff that is not relevant to this specific position.

This concludes our short series on developing your pitch – we hope it helps!

Image by Nevada Tumbleweed

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Sometimes, I hear people talk about how they sent out a large number of resumes, e.g. 100, and then complain that they didn’t get any interviews. They then proceed to blame everything on a lousy job market.

Quality not quantity

Just from the information above, it is tough to tell what went wrong, but I have a suspicion it is an issue of quantity vs. quality. Only well-crafted, thoughtful and relevant applications are going to have any success. “Spam” applications, that are sent out without much thought, will get you nowhere. In most cases, you will simply not be a relevant candidate, but the real problem is that in the cases where you actually might have a real shot at a job you hurt your chances by sending a crappy generic application.

Spamming recruiters is probably the worst thing you can do – it diminishes your chances, it does not improve them.

Spam applications from the eyes of a recruiter

A couple of years ago when I was running my own business, I was having some issues with my computers. So I decided to hire a part-time IT manager, who would spend a couple hours every week making sure than the computers were working fine. I thought that posting a job ad on Craigslist might be a good way to find such a local part-timer. To my amazement, my inbox was utterly flooded by job applications from people all around the country. I was looking for someone who would swing by my office for a couple hours every week, but I was getting people sending me cover letters and resumes offering to move across the country to take this job – which would total overkill and unrealistic. It was clear that nearly all of them had not read my job posting in any detail – their backgrounds and applications did not match what I was looking for at all. Also, their resumes and cover letters were so generic, they could have been sent to any employer in the country – they made no reference to what I was looking for or any other special circumstances. It was so bad, that I canned all applications I got that way and hired a local IT consulting firm to do the job instead.

How can I tell if I am sending a spam application?

Essentially, spam applications are too generic and not customized for a specific job and they tend to be of weak relevance.

  • If you are not carefully reading a job posting, researching the company and specific job, and then modifying and adapting your resume and especially your cover letter, you are likely sending a spam application.
  • If you are only a mediocre fit candidate – your skills, experience set etc doesn’t really match with what they are looking for – you are trying fit a square peg in a round hole, and you are likely sending a spam application.

How to avoid sending spam applications

Do your homework on every job application you send out:

  • Carefully read the job posting and compare your candidacy critically to what they are looking for – are you are reasonable fit? Since we are shooting for quality, not quantity, you should be honest enough with yourself to skip on jobs that are a bad fit so that you can fully focus your energy on those jobs where you actually fit well
    • Using the CareerAde Method will help you focus on a career and source jobs that actually fit you
  • Research the job, the company, the industry and customize your resume, cover letter and overall pitch to fit to that job as best as possible
  • Track you applications in an excel spread sheet and file away the resume and cover letter you sent so that you can recall it when you get invited to an interview
  • When interviewing invest serious effort in preparing and researching – see our checklist

Good luck!

Image by arnold | inuyaki

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