I just read an article in the NY Times (“How to Get a Job”) that really disturbed me. The article is about a company called HireArt that brings together job seekers and employers. It mentions that for some jobs, they receive 500 applications! And if that’s not bad enough, it also says that some job seekers are sending out 500 resumes in just a few months, some automatically reply to every ad on Craig’s List. I love the Internet but this is crazy. How am I supposed to get a foot in the door with those kinds of numbers?
I notice you use the word "crazy." You also use the word "disturbed." Both are good when describing volume responses to ads, and overall dependence on ads in the first place.
It's a matter of simple numbers. Every survey I've ever seen will show that something like 6-7% of all jobs are filled by ads (including the internet sites, matching sites, metasites, etc.). Some of the estimates are a little higher, but it's still a very low number overall. So why do people spend so much of their time with ads? Because it's easy and reactive. You don't have to go out and build relationships and spend time with research; others will do the work for you. Or at least that's what most people believe. You just write a decent cover and send your resume, and hope. Not my idea of great proactive search technique.
While I'll never suggest that any job seeker skip over anything that might yield as much as 6-7% chance of success, why would anyone spend 80% of their time wasting time on such a low-odds proposition? Even worse, why set yourself up to be in competition with 500 or more competitors? Or put yourself in a position where you won't even get your document read? Answering random ads on Craig's List is throwing your time away. Yes, some people do get jobs that way, but it takes longer, is more random, and the competition makes it ridiculously difficult - even if you're answering an ad that matches up perfectly with your credentials niche.
Job search is tough and should involve some high-touch relationship building. Ads are a small part of the process, but it's the relationships, new and old, that have the highest odds for success.
Spend your time on alumni databases, LinkedIn, or your own address book and keep your attention to the internet ads to a small proportion of your search time.
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