I recall a popular mantra from my childhood. It went something like, “Opinions are like elbows and assholes; everybody has them.” That’s certainly the truth when it comes to job hunting advice. There are a variety of ideas and suggestions out there, some of which are contradictory.
One of them that prompted this post is the question about the number of resumes/applications you should submit while job hunting. It varies depending on who you ask. A few weeks ago, I read an article advising applicants to keep applying. Right after you apply to a vacancy, keep looking for a new one and apply. I agree with that. That’s the advice I would give too. Let it be a continual process of what I call SEAP: Search, Evaluate the vacancy, and APply. Everybody makes up acronyms for stuff, so I figured I would too. SEAP, and SEAP again. Repeat. Feel free to quote me if you like.
That makes sense to me. That strategy has been effective for me through the years. Getting a job isn’t like tossing a boomerang. They all aren’t going to immediately fly back at you. The truth is, most won’t fly back. Your resume is going to end up in an HR abyss and only the truly remarkable applicants – well, at least the remarkable resumes that is – will catch the hiring manager’s attention. That’s why, thinking back to my Probability and Statistics class in grad school, your desired outcome becomes more likely (or more probable) the more often you do it. Volume gives you a greater probability that your resume will get to someone who wants to take a closer look at you.
But if you aren’t casting a large enough net, your chances of getting someone to bite goes way down. If you’re lucky you may get a rejection letter or email. I once got a postcard. You probably will never hear from most of them, though. But keep on aggressively sending out resumes to places where you want to work.
In contrast to that advice, I read a different article today with another viewpoint. Today’s article advised against sending out multiple resumes, claiming it’s a waste of time, since it’ll likely end up in a black hole. In fact, this author suggests you shouldn’t even bother responding to vacancy announcements. Instead, you should target your applications. Target your resume by (1) identifying where you want to work; (2) gathering as much information as you can about the organization and the department within that organization where you want to work; (3) identifying the hiring manager, and send your information to him or her. This method, the author says, is best, much better than sending out your resume to 10 or 16 or 30 organizations in response to vacancy announcements. But that’s just his point of view.
I prefer the blast approach. That’s the one that has worked for me. The one that is the best really does depend on who you ask. But as I scour the literature – (my grad school allows alumni to retain access to its library and large collection of scientific research journals and periodicals) – the consensus seems to be more is better. The first thing you should do after applying to a position is to locate another one for which you are qualified and that interests you then apply: SEAP. Repeat. They don’t call it SEAP – that’s my word – but the strategy seems abundant in the things I have read. If you also want to target your application, let that be a part of your blast strategy and not instead of it. If you still never get any hits to your resume, perhaps it’s the resume that’s the problem. That’s a topic for another day.