Are the Unemployed Applying For Too Many Jobs?

by Lisa Swan on April 16, 2012

Are jobseekers sending out too many resumes? That’s what an HR professional recently claimed in a comment on the Wall Street Job Report.

HRMASTER wrote, in response to an article about how some companies use computer scanning software to screen out resumes, that companies are justified in doing so. How else can a company handle the virtually overwhelming number of applicants for every job opening, many of whom are unqualified for?  HRMASTER said:

“If all you are doing is roaming around on the internet and submitting job applications, it’s no wonder you haven’t gotten any interviews. I love the way the comments blame the greedy corporations for using resume screening systems. How about blaming all of the idiots out there who submit hundreds of applications for job where they aren’t even remotely qualified? This is usually done in an effort to satisfy Dept. of Labor requirements about applying for X number of jobs per week in order to qualify for unemployment.”

Well, in the state of New York, while the state’s Department of Labor requires that the long-term unemployed getting extended benefits apply for jobs, they only are mandated to apply for two jobs a week, both of the job applications are required to be within their previous career fields, and they have to let the DOL know where they applied. So that cannot explain the full number of “idiots,” as HRMASTER calls them, applying for those jobs.

HRMASTER also explains how daunting the number of applicants can be:

“When I post a job and get over 1,000 applications for every position, most of which are from people who aren’t even remotely qualified; when I have to hire two people whose full-time jobs are to go through the thousands of applications to find the few people who might be a good fit; when I have to pay those people salary and benefits adding up to a couple of hundred thousand dollars per year, then you bet I’m going to buy a resume screening system for $100K.”

Many unemployed people are encouraged by job experts to apply for jobs, no matter what, and to keep on being active and getting their name out there. In addition, there have been a number of cases in which people applied for jobs they weren’t really qualified for, but they happened to be very qualified for other openings at those companies. In addition, the applicant may think that he or she is perfectly qualified for the job, while the recruiter or HR person may have a different view.

Here’s the question, though. If the vast majority of candidates are highly unqualified, why is it so hard to screen them with human eyes? HRMASTER says they only get about five or six actually qualified candidates that are worth interviewing for each posted position. He also says that many of those who get interviewed come in through networking, and not the online job application. If there are so many unqualified applicants, isn’t that something that a human could screen out nearly as quickly as a computer? After all, according to another recent story, most recruiters spend only six seconds reading each resume.

Reader Judy Intindola writes,  “It’s terrible to know that our resumes are being scanned by technology and not a pair of human eyes.” Most candidates today fear that their application will get buried under those that make better use of keywords.

Perhaps it is to be expected that in a market where supply vastly exceeds demand, those tasked with finding the needle in the haystack may feel frustrated and overworked. Yet it seems patently unfair that HR departments provide a specific vehicle for candidate application and then scorn those who apply using that vehicle. If job seekers risk irritating those they are trying to impress simply by applying for a position, how can an unemployed person hope to get ahead?

Lisa Swan is a Feature Writer for the Compliance Exchange and Wall Street Job Report. She is also a columnist for The Faster Times and a blogger for Subway Squawkers. Her work has also appeared in the New York Daily News, Yahoo Sports, Huffington Post and the books Graphical Player 2011 and Graphical Player 2010.

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Full agreement with the use of technology to scan applications. It’s a must. However, HR departments should not stop at the scan with their use of technology. Better communication with potential applicants so that people can self screen. Better communication regarding status of the company’s search (e.g. app deadlines, # apps rec’d, stage of the process (post application deadline), etc). More cred regarding legitimacy of vacancies (many use third party addresses rather than their own company’s address). I could go on and on and on. Bottom line is that the use of technology without considering the user (i.e applicants) can cause damage to the company’s brand. That cost can outweigh the labor cost noted in your article. HR departments should use technology to it full potential. They need to use it in a maner that more closely mimicks the human process.

by Anthem on April 17, 2012 at 5:22 pm. Reply #

Hi Lisa, Great article. As recruiters we can sympathize with both sides of this story. Its tough out there for both parties because the process is inefficient on so many levels.

As hiring managers, its frustrating. Every day we see lots of resumes every day come in that are not qualified for the position being applied for. This number has been reduced as we have began targeting what channels we are posting descriptions and the actual content of the job description itself. For us, we dont want 1000s of resumes, we want small numbers of quality resumes.

That being said, we still find employees not reading the full job description and expecting us to ‘infer’ that because they have similar experience or industry experience that they can do other roles. At the end of the day it all comes down to a history of success and their skill set.

We have a recruiter on our team review every resume we receive. But we do have specific criteria we are looking for in order to pass the ‘resume review’ stage in our screening process and if we find one thing wrong, the resume is then rejected. With the number of applicants there is no way we would be able to spend any more time.

From the job seeker perspective, its frustrating. Sending out resumes with no followups, competing with folks that have more experience and are willing to get paid the same as someone with no experience, spending time on a job search while you are still working, staying positive while looking, etc, etc. The job search process is very time consuming and tiring.

Here is our advice:

Search Smarter – The only way to improve the results in a job search would be to improve the process and that means not submitting to every posting you see but targeting your job search and tailoring your resume to only the postings you truly feel qualified for and feel that you could succeed in.
Work with a recruiter – We work individually with each of the consultants we place in the Finance Industry to help them improve their resume, ace the interview and reach their goals while on assignment. Think of us as your agent, we are only successful if you are.
Network – Join interest groups or professional societies. Beef up your LinkedIn network. Comment on news articles and introduce yourself. Not only will this help you stay active and learning about your industry but it will give you inside information to more opportunities and make you a more attractive candidate to hiring managers.

-Wall Street Services

by Wall Street Services on April 19, 2012 at 10:15 am. Reply #

Self serving comments from a recruiter really need to be taken with a very large measure of salt. We accept that her only objective is to find someone (in the shortest time possible so she can move on to another assignment for which she also may not have an exclusive) to fill a slot for which she learns of the qualifications via dictation and otherwise has very little clue – hence, the proliferation of internal recruiters who better understand the culture of the firm and have better access to the hiring manager. We all understand how very busy she is making a living. We should all try our best not to slow her down or get in her way.

But let’s do some arithmetic – suppose the recruiter works a 10 hour day (why not, nearly everyone else does) and devotes 70% of that time, perhaps not continuously, to sifting through resumes at 8 seconds a pop. That translates to 3150 resumes per day but lets round that down to 3000 and give her a 20 minute break. Now, if she gets 1000 resumes per job opening, she should have enough fodder, er…material, to find the necessary handful of qualified candidates for 3 jobs which she can screen further before the end of her day so she can decide which prospective candidates to contact before putting forward some bodies, er…names, to the hiring managers. Let’s say she chooses 10 names for each 1000 to whittle down further and devotes 5 minutes each (2 1/2 hours in total) to come up with, say, 3 candidates per job opening. She then sends out 9 e-mails asking those candidates to call her which she can do during her 1/2 hour lunch break. All in a day’s work!

Now, if half the fools (aka, those not remotely qualified) who submit their resumes didn’t, then she would have an extra 3 hours and 40 minutes to play, er…devote to, finding the right candidates. She can increase the proportion of the resume pool into which she does a deep dive from 1% to 2% (to get 10 names per job) and spend 10 minutes instead of only 5 minutes on each (spending a total of 5 hrs on the deep dive) and pick up 70 minutes in the process which she can use to go shopping on line and relieve the incredible stress she is under.

Come on fools…let’s help this lady out here – stop sending in your resumes. Think of the service you are providing to the 0.6% who are qualified. Er…one of the 3 names submitted per job WILL be hired…right?

by O. ver D'Ump on April 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm. Reply #

An HR profession that says ‘ How about blaming all of the idiots out there who submit hundreds of applications for job where they aren’t even remotely qualified?’ needs to learn that calling people IDIOTS isn’t professional. I’m glad I have a job and don’t have to deal with HR people with this attitude. Must be nice to sit in judgement of the unemployed desperate to get a job, any job. There but for the grace of God and all that.

by Kathye on May 8, 2012 at 10:23 am. Reply #

Not that difficult everyone: If application asks for skills in PPC, SEO, SERP, Social Media – and those keywords aren’t on your resume…then you’re obviously not qualified for the job. If they are, the system flags your resume, and you get an honest consideration.

by Robert on May 11, 2012 at 10:08 am. Reply #

[...] Are the Unemployed Applying For Too Many Jobs? [...]

by New Job Site, Bright, Matches Candidates With Employers | The Wall Street Job Report on September 24, 2012 at 10:49 am. Reply #

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