| Refresh Your Career



How not to be a job application spammer

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

RSS Feed

<< How to find a good mentor

How to leverage contacts in your network >>

Find it!

Copyright © 2009-2010 by
All rights reserved

Theme modified from jQ 2.5 by Devolux