Why Not Take A “Shotgun” Approach?


While on the job hunt, especially during times where activity has been slow, it is certainly tempting to take a “shotgun” approach to the job search; that is, applying to every job you come across whether or not the description and requirements match your background. It may even seem like a no-brainer to employ this method. If you throw enough resumes out there, someone will eventually like what they see, right?

It’s not so simple. You may have heard the phrase, “throw mashed potatoes against the wall and see what sticks,” or variants of it. It may seem like a good idea to get your resume in front of as many hiring managers as possible without necessarily being precise, and while something may indeed eventually ‘stick,’ you will still have mashed potatoes all over the wall.

One major reason that it is a bad idea to do this (especially if you are working with one or more staffing firms) is that it greatly increases the possibility of a double (or triple, or worse) submittal. Many candidates (who are otherwise extremely viable) are of the belief that if a hiring manager receives their resume from five different agencies on top of receiving it directly from the candidate via the company’s own posting, it communicates that they are five times more interested in the job than some sucker who only submitted themselves once. This is dangerously untrue, for not only the candidate but also for the recruiter they are working with.

When a staffing firm submits your resume to a client of theirs, they are not just tossing another resume onto the pile. They are often able to leverage their relationship with the client to ensure that your resume gets looked at first. But if the client already has your resume in their system, why pay a premium to the firm for finding you? Why work with the firm at all if they are just going to send them resumes they have already obtained? This can be very damaging to the reputation of the firm you are working with.

“But that doesn’t affect me,” you say. “The end client still liked my resume, and if they have it from another agency they will just work with them to bring me on board.” Makes sense, right? Unfortunately this is generally untrue; many companies will take you out of the running immediately if they receive your resume from more than one source, and here’s why: instead of communicating that you are so interested in the company that you just had to apply five times, it can communicate that you don’t care where your resume is going; which versions are floating around out there, which agencies are sending it where, or whose hands it ends up in. It can communicate a lack of attention to detail, or that you are disorganized in general. It can communicate that you are just looking for whatever job you can find, rather than the perfect fit (and while this may be the case, it’s not something a hiring manager wants to hear). It can communicate that you may be disloyal and untrustworthy (I once worked with a candidate who, after we had submitted their resume to a client of ours, went and applied directly through the client’s website; the hiring manager didn’t like this and wouldn’t even look at the resume). It can communicate that you are simply unprofessional. These are all traits that spell doom for many uninformed job hunters.

A little precision can go a long way. Sure, it might take a little more organization or preparation on your side, but if it gets you that dream job you always wanted instead of just any job, isn’t it worth it?

Here are a few tips:

  • Whether you are working by yourself or with a staffing firm, you should always keep clear records of all companies and staffing firms you have sent your resume to, and of all companies they may have sent your resume to.
  • Always be in kept in the loop. Insist that any staffing firms you are working with obtain your permission before sending your resume to their clients (this is the policy of EDI Specialists). The reality is that there are many dishonest firms out there, so it is always a good idea to take the initiative and make sure that you always know where your resume is going. If you send your resume to Unscrupulous Firm X for a specific position and they submit it without your knowledge two months later to other companies they know are hiring, you risk being turned down when applying yourself or via a reputable staffing firm.
  • Read job descriptions and requirements thoroughly. Decide exactly which positions you want to apply to and, if necessary, tailor your resume for each submittal (but do not directly copy lines from the job description into your resume).
  • Only apply to positions you truly feel match your background. You want to be taken seriously as a professional, and not known as “that candidate who always applies to every single job posted.”

The bottom line is that if you throw your resume around too often, it -will- be recognized, but not always in a positive way. In any economy, you certainly don’t want to build a reputation as being someone who throws mashed potatoes.

About Adam Barron

Adam supports EDI and IT professionals throughout the Midwest region of the US. As a recruiter with EDI Staffing since 2006, Adam has over 10 years of experience working with candidates to fill contract, contract-to-hire and direct hire positions, aiming to match each person’s unique goals with those of our clients. He is a frequent contributor to our blog, where he shares insight on industry topics such as marketability enhancement, resume improvement, interviewing and offer negotiation. Adam believes that strong relationships are key to the business and strives to connect with people, often keeping in touch long after a person has landed a job or interviewed with our clients.

Adam graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. Prior to joining EDI Staffing, he worked as a Business Development Representative for its sister company, B2B Contact. Outside of the office, Adam loves to spend time with family and also enjoys writing, Boston sports, skiing, movies and board/video gaming.

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