Don’t Over Reach: Apply for the Right Job


A former business colleague called me last week to express frustration about the volume of resumes he’s receiving.  He said only one in 20 has relevant experience for the current opening he’s trying to fill.  He asked: “Do people actually read job postings anymore or do they simply send resumes to every job posting they see?”

Unfortunately, the tight job market causes people to apply for jobs that are beyond their skill levels.  At the same time, many over-qualified people apply for openings seeking more junior staffers.  A HR manager told me that she received more than 300 resumes for an entry-level position, and nearly half were from people with considerably more than five years experience.  And a corporate PR head said red flags were waving in his head when an individual applied for three different job openings in his department–positions ranging from entry-level to VP. 

While individuals are willing to take lesser positions in this economy, most companies aren’t willing to take the risk of hiring over-qualified people who could become bored with the kinds of work performed much earlier in their careers.  It’s also not very productive to try to switch careers by trading down to entry-level PR jobs.  For example, we’ve received resumes from lawyers applying for account coordinator openings.  HR executives correctly advise job seekers to focus their searches on jobs that are within the scope of position descriptions. 

4 thoughts on “Don’t Over Reach: Apply for the Right Job

  1. I’m in the process of wrapping up an internship and have been applying to a number of firms, and it’s common to see an opening for an Assistant AE and an entry level AC for example. Even if both positions are in the same department, say Healthcare, should I avoid applying to both (given that I meet both positions’ qualifications)? Is it just a rule of thumb: one application for each company?

  2. Joyce: HR colleagues suggest that you apply separately for both positions. In larger agencies, different recruiters might be working on the two searches so you’ll want to have your paperwork in front of both of them. For small agencies, you can send one cover letter and resume mentioning interest in both positions.

  3. I have been out of the workforce for eight years. I have more than seven years of experience, but my gap, and the rise of social media during this time, have proven barriers to finding a position. Should I be applying to a managerial position where I left off or should I be applying to a position for three to five years?

  4. Tough question, Bridget. All depends on experience cited in your resume and expectations of the hiring managers. Some managerial jobs don’t require social media expertise, but most do. Therefore, you should carefully read job descriptions and apply for those that you’re confident you can get to and through the interview process.

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