By now, most of us have heard the famous quote by Will Rogers, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." This is especially true when trying to obtain a job. Most companies invest in software programs that create files for all their applicants, and every job an individual applies to can be seen in their file. So imagine the first impression a hiring manager gets when they open your file and see that you have applied to multiple jobs within the same day—and each job requiring different qualifications.
The first impression you are making with this hiring manager is not a good one. Immediately your profile screams that you are desperate. According to your application record, you are willing to take any job that comes along because maybe you don't have the skills or, at the very least, you don't know what you want to do with your life. Uncertainty is not a trait in an employee that most hiring managers seek out. If you are applying to multiple jobs with varying qualifications, it also shows that you are indecisive, which will come in handy if you want to simply be an order taker.
Applying to multiple jobs also deems you as flaky. Either you are interested in the company itself for some reason and just want to get your foot in the door so you will take anything or you're not interested in the company at all and you are looking for anything to bide your time. With either of these alternatives, a hiring manager may make the assumption that one way or another you will leave the role you are hired for when a better opportunity comes along—inside or outside the organization.
If you are lucky enough to get a call from this company that you've overly applied to, chances are it will be for a low-paying, unsubstantive job that requires minimal qualifications. Is that your goal?
My inclination is that you are really eager to find a new job and part of you thinks this approach will get you to where you want to be faster. But as the saying goes, less is more, especially when it comes to applying for jobs.
The Best Approach
Applying for jobs needs to be done with a level of discernment. Much like dating, you only want to show interest in the ones (jobs, in this case) that you really want. Start by tailoring your resume to the job you want and use your cover letter to highlight why you would be great for this opportunity. Generic resumes will read as such and get you left at the bottom of the pile.
If you apply to multiple jobs at the same company, be consistent with the types of positions you apply for (entry level vs. experienced, administrative vs. partner). Sometimes companies are looking for more than one role in a department, and sometimes you will be a fit for more than one of those roles. When you apply, make sure you stay in the same category and in positions for which you meet most of the qualifications. This shows that you know what you want and that you have a continued interest in that company, which implies that you have done your research and would possibly stay with the organization for the long haul.
Also, do your research before you apply for a position that catches your interest. Look up the company on LinkedIn and see if you know anyone who works at the company. If you do, then connect with them and see if they will reach out to the recruiter on your behalf and put in a good word. If you have not had much success directly applying to positions online, try to see if you can find a recruiter's LinkedIn page or email address to directly express your interest in the company.
As you are researching the company, check on their website to see if there are any upcoming networking events that you can attend. These types of events are great opportunities for you to meet people and get a feel for the organization in advance.
No matter which way you choose to apply for a position, you need to show patience—wait at least a few weeks to see if you get a response for the position you applied to. If a recruiter contacts you and tells you that you are not a good fit for that particular position, use this as an opportunity to ask them to consider you for other positions that you may be interested in and tell them why you would be a good fit.
Sometimes you may never hear back from a company. If there is a company you really want to work for, you may want to reach out to one of their recruiters and ask to grab coffee or speak on the phone so that you will be on their radar when the right position becomes available.
It is OK to apply to the same company again and again as long as it's for jobs of a similar nature. You have goals and a career trajectory that you should always keep striving to obtain. The best approach is to always be true to yourself and your goals, especially in your job search even on the days when it seems never-ending. When you stay true to your course, you'll be happier with the end results.
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Avani Patel is a Director in our Solutions Practice Group, based in Washington, D.C. She provides substantive interim and permanent staffing solutions to top-tier law firms and in-house corporate departments. She enjoys being a valuable resource to attorneys, paralegals and legal professionals.