Why applying for too many jobs may ruin your chances of getting hired

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Applying to multiple job openings can increase your chances of landing a new gig.

However, if you’re thinking of sending out what one economist called a “firehose of applications” all at once and then just waiting for responses, think again.

“The problem is that sometimes people take a college application approach to the job search,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter. 

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Job seekers often make the mistake of blasting out as many as 100 applications and then thinking they’re done with their search, when in fact they are not, Pollak added.

“It’s much more important to apply frequently to freshly posted jobs,” she said.

Indeed, it will be key that job hunters also actively tailor their applications for those newly advertised positions, especially as the labor market continues to soften.

‘Not much has changed’

Job openings changed very little, increasing slightly to 9.6 million in September, up from 9.5 million in August, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary from the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Not much has changed over the past few months, and the labor market appears to be stabilizing at a level consistent with a sustainable economy,” said Nick Bunker, chief economist at Indeed.com.

The number of quits and hires have plateaued to pre-pandemic levels while the layoff rate remains historically low, he added.

“I think it could bolster the narrative of a soft landing” for the U.S. economy — rather than a recession — said Pollak, as the labor market is cooling through a slowdown in openings and hires instead of increased job losses and layoffs.

“I think that’s exactly what the Fed was hoping to see,” she added.

‘Set a daily goal of a number of applications’

There are more strategic ways to go about the job search and application process instead of applying to jobs on mass, according to experts.

“Applying to about two to three jobs a day is ideal so candidates can focus on tailoring their resumes, including specific keywords and skills that connect to the job posting,” said Gabrielle Davis, a career trends expert at Indeed.

Job seekers should focus on relevant and recent openings. Employers may receive upward of 100 applications per vacancy, and if you only apply to older positions, you reduce the chances of employers seeing your application. 

“It’s important to keep at it,” Pollak said. “Set a daily goal of a number of applications per day.”

Upon applying for their current role, 89% of workers said they had received a response from their eventual employer within a week or less, according to the ZipRecruiter Survey of New Hires, which polled more than 2,000 currently employed adults in the U.S. 

This means companies that are recruiting are moving very quickly when they get a candidate they like and about half respond within 48 hours, Pollak said.

It’s important to keep at it. Set a daily goal of a number of applications per day.

Julia Pollak

chief economist at ZipRecruiter

“We’re seeing a big push towards speed,” she added. “Employers know that if they take too long in this environment with such a low employment rate to respond, it’ll be too late, and they’ve lost a candidate.”

Therefore, if you applied but don’t hear back within a week, move on and continue your search; applications submitted a month ago are often not serving you, she added.

Additionally, you may want to refrain from applying to multiple openings within a company. Stick to applying to positions relevant to your background and skills. Otherwise, it can hurt your overall chances. 

“It looks as though you’re not focused and rather that you’re just indiscriminately applying without regard for which job is the best fit,” Pollak said.

Make sure your resume gets “past the bots” by making sure the format is legible for computers: meaning, no “fancy formatting, fonts or images.”

You may also want to include certain key words from the job description into your resume, but don’t paste the entire job description in your resume. That is now detected and penalized in most systems, Pollak said.

“It needs to be an accurate reflection of you,” she added.

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