Applying for a Less-than-Perfect Job? Try This Instead.

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Imagine this: you’re scanning job postings and come across one for a company that you would love to work for. Problem is, the job lacks something essential: degree of responsibility, salary, clear fit based on your experience. However, because your ideal job isn’t offered, you figure, “What’s the harm?” and shoot off a resume.

A few weeks pass, and another position opens up at this company. This time it’s a perfect fit. Although you didn’t hear anything back from your first application, you go ahead and re-send the resume.

And nothing happens. What gives?

When you use an online application system, you are essentially feeding information into a database that will be vetted by an administrative assistant or HR person. These (usually overworked) professionals are doing their best to screen and qualify all of the talent coming in, which could mean hundreds of separate applications for multiple positions in a range of departments. With time at a minimum, their function is to quickly separate potential hires (who are moved further along the process) from those who don’t match the basic criteria laid out in the position they’ve applied for. When you apply for a position that you’re not an excellent fit for, it becomes very easy for them to reject your application. Furthermore, when you re-apply for a different position, chances are very good that it’s the same person who will be reviewing your resume. Make no mistake: minor changes to the resume won’t mask the fact that you’re the same person applying for a different job within a very short period of time. At this point, most employers will screen you out for this position as well, and regardless of how qualified you actually are, will most likely remove you from consideration for future roles at the company. Despite applying with the best of intentions, this “shotgun” approach turns your candidacy into the equivalent of spam.

Here’s a different approach: when you come across a less-than-ideal job posting, research the company and reach out to a person who would be in a position to hire you. Oftentimes, the job posting itself contains relevant contact information. A simple message works best: brief introduction, what you’re looking for, why you’d be an asset to the company, and a request for a 15-minute call. Cold contacting a company has been shown to be an effective way of bypassing the send-resume-and-wait approach. Instead of being perceived as spam, you come across as an individual who is truly interested in making a meaningful contribution to the company. And when the ideal position opens up, you’ll be first in line.

Anish Majumdar is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Founder of ResumeOrbit.com, a consulting firm that specializes in Resume & CV Development, LinkedIn Profile Development and Executive Bio Letter Development for senior and mid-level professionals.