I have vivid memories from my hiring days of going through applications for various roles and finding that one person who decided to submit an application for every single one. It happened more than you’d think—and honestly, it happened more than even I anticipated when I was new to recruiting. However, as I started reviewing more and more resumes, one thing became apparent: Somewhere out there is a person who is apparently telling people that the best way to get an employer’s attention is to apply for as many of their opening as humanly possible.
However, this is usually not the case. And I get it. There are situations in which you think this is the best possible idea. To avoid losing out on a potential dream position, here are a few of the most common times you’ll be tempted to apply for everything—and what to do instead.
1. Your Dream Company (Finally) Has Multiple Open Jobs
Common wisdom might say that most “dream” companies are always hiring, but that’s just not always the case. If an organization hasn’t always had open roles, and suddenly posts a couple of job descriptions to their careers site, it’s tempting to throw caution to the wind and say, “Let’s see how many times I can get my resume in front of the hiring managers.” The problem is that if they hire this infrequently, the fact that you’re applying for everything will make a first impression that might be too much to overcome.
What to Do Instead
Of course, if there’s a specific opening at your dream company that you think you’d be a good fit for, go ahead and apply. However, if the organization’s posted a handful of gigs that you simply do not have the skills for, show a little restraint and try something different. For example, think about reaching out to express your interest in the company and requesting a coffee meeting—after that, when a role becomes available that you are the right fit for, you’ll already be on the radar.
2. You Can’t Decide Between Two Jobs at a Great Company
This is the best case scenario, right? Well, yes. Still, it’s important to remember that unless you’re applying to work for a company that employs hundreds of recruiters, the odds are that the same people will see your application materials for both roles multiple times. And while this won’t necessarily disqualify you from either one, it will put a lot of doubt in their minds about how interested in the company you are.
What to Do Instead
Muse writer Sara McCord discusses how to choose between two open jobs. For starters, she suggests starting by thinking about what you really want to do—and what you’re qualified for (when you’re being completely honest with yourself). As she points out, by applying just to one, you’re not closing the door to the other. If you’re a clear fit for the role you didn’t go after, there’s a good chance that you might be pushed in that direction.
AFRAID YOU’VE APPLIED TO EVERYTHING AND ARE OUT OF OPTIONS?
Don’t worry, we have plenty of awesome positions open right now
3. You’re Still Unsure of What You Really Want
This is probably the trickiest time you’ll be tempted to submit your resume for every opening you find. I’ve been there, and honestly, I get it. Things seem incredibly unclear, and if you’re anything like me during a long job search, it feels like you’re more productive when you need both hands to count how many positions you’ve applied for on any given day.
What to Do Instead
There’s only so much that you can learn from constantly applying for every single thing you see posted online, especially when you’re doing so at the same company. The solution to this is relatively simple—even though it might not produce immediate results: Lean on your network for help.
Set up informational interviews with people in industries that you’re currently interested in. Ask your former bosses and colleagues what you excelled at and what kind of role they can see you excelling in. And, as Whitney Johson, author of Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work, recommends in an article on figuring out what you’re good at, ask yourself these four questions:
1. What skills have helped you thrive?
2. What makes you feel strong?
3. What made you stand out as a child?
4. What compliments do you tend to ignore?
These conversations, even with yourself (maybe especially with yourself) aren’t necessarily fun—but they’ll make it far easier to see what you do really want.
Sometimes in the middle of a hard job search, it’s only natural to look at multiple openings at the same company and think, “I want to work there, so why wouldn’t I apply more than once?” However, the truth is that recruiters tend to remember people who submit applications for multiple roles—and not always in a good way. Before you potentially cost yourself an opportunity at an amazing company, take a deep breath, think about what you want, and go after the role that’s right for you.
Photo of person thinking courtesy of PeopleImages.com/Getty Images
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.More from this Author