Get Hired: There’s a Better Way than the “Resume Spray and Pray”

We’ve all been there… reading the internship or job posting’s exciting title, and then the laundry list of qualifications that we don’t have (but really wish we did).

“I don’t have all those skills yet. But if they’d just gimme a chance, I know I’d totally rock at this job!” we tell ourselves, pleadingly.

So, we tailor our resume to fit the position as best we can – ignoring the fact that our experience level fails to meet all but one of the seven set-in-stone requirements. We write a scintillating cover letter that says we’re a “really fast learner” and that we’ll solve all the recruiter’s problems.

This all-too-common job seeker tendency is known as the “Resume Spray and Pray” – where we send our resume to every job posting we find interesting – even though there is little or no hope. Then we sit back and hope the recruiter will overlook our obvious lack of qualification and grant us an interview. And, many of us do this a couple hundred times before realizing we’re beating the proverbial dead horse.

Why? We already know that recruiters hate when obviously under-qualified candidates apply. Their job is to hire the best fit for the position. They don’t hire to give people a chance! I’m sorry… that only happens in the movies. Yet we do it anyway. And then we’re surprised and disappointed when we never hear back from the recruiter.

Listen up candidates!

If you are currently engaged in this type of an employment search… it is time for an intervention!

Here are some suggestions – both for making yourself more employable, and for dealing with the stress associated with a prolonged internship or job search – and leads to resorting to “Spray and Pray”…

Never Stop Learning

You’ve heard this advice a hundred times already, so indulge me while I say this quickly again: “Never stop learning.” You’re surrounded by resources. Whether online or in-person, no matter where you live there are opportunities to build your skills – and become more employable. Community colleges, volunteering, networking, internships – all incredible ways to improve your standing as a candidate.

An internship at a mentor-focused company – for any age job seeker – is probably the single best method to gain experience. Not only do internships enable you to develop new skills; you also have the opportunity to network and gain an inside view of both a particular company and industry.

Renew Your Spirit

Through a mentor, a new frame of mind or perhaps a surge of inspiration… change your outlook!

The rejection people face when looking for work can be demoralizing. It takes a toll on our bodies and minds in the form of fatigue, lack of motivation and depression.

During your job search, enlist the help of supportive people… family, friends and members of your church… even past co-workers or a mentor. Arrange to meet with members of your support network on a regular basis, perhaps weekly or monthly, to review specific elements of your search. You may even want to develop and utilize your own personal “Board of Directors”.

The perspective you’ll gain – from people outside the voices in your head – will help keep you motivated and productive.

Refuse to Give in to Desperation

Every minute of every day, it seems, a job seeker gives in… and basically screams “Let the ‘Spray and Pray’ begin!!”

You get out of bed each morning… trudge to your computer, sit, yet again – feeling alone. After a few weeks, you don’t even feel like getting dressed. But the bills are piling higher… while your self-esteem sets new record lows. You tell yourself that you must do something – anything – fast!

Finding a new job is not like being late to the airport, driving faster doesn’t exactly equate to getting there sooner. Look at your search as a full-time job… a real job! Get out of bed… get dressed… and put in a solid “work” day – every day.

Get a Job. Then Get a Good Job

I may eat it in the comments for this section of this post, but I’ll go out on a limb to say that given current economic conditions many of us apply to positions where – although our experience may show we should be considered – we just don’t stand a chance against current competition.

Take a step back. Consider applying for positions with perhaps less responsibilty. You’ll be earning a paycheck and re-building your sense of freedom and contribution. The position may not be ideal, but you don’t have to settle long-term for being under-employed. And in this position, while you hone your skills and remain relevant in the workforce, you can network and show off your work ethic and passion.

If you don’t agree on this point, I understand it is a difficult choice. While you are considering whether or not this advice applies to you, however, please remember the old cliché: “It is far easier to get a job, when you have a job.”

After considering this advice, the Resume “Spray and Pray” should not be an option for you. You know it doesn’t work… Stop!

Learn. Engage. Get active. Change your environment – and your mindset.

Start making good things happen.

About the Author: Dave Ellis, is an original member of the YouTern team and instrumental to its success… in fact, he’s so awesome there wouldn’t be a YouTern without him (and he might have written this bio himself). In his spare time, Dave volunteers, rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions and baby elephant seals. Follow Dave on Twitter!

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