|  April 2, 2014

What happens when you apply to a company but not for a specific job?

Applying directly to a company is something that happens often. Most careers sites allow you to submit a “general resume” or to “put your resume on file” for future openings. I’ve had many candidates reach out to me directly when I was a recruiter asking me to consider them or keep their resume on file even though there wasn’t a job available at the moment.

I’m sure many of you out there are wondering, when you apply to a company but not for a specific job, what happens next? What can you expect? In most cases, one of two things are going to happen…

The most likely scenario

What’s most likely to happen is that your resume is simply “kept on file” which means it gets loaded into the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and  just sits there for a while. Those databases have hundreds of thousands of resumes in them – many hundreds coming in per day for a popular company.  So I can tell you that most of the time, no one is actively screening every “general” resume that comes through the online careers website.

However, many recruiters do use the key word search feature in their ATS when they open a new job. This means that when a job opens up a month down the line and they are looking for someone with experience working in Salesforce, your resume submitted last month (with Salesforce experience) will pop up. So if you have unique skills that the company is likely to look for in the future, you may just get found in “the black hole”. 

The best possible scenario

Now I’m not saying this happens all the time but there is a best case scenario here. That scenario (the one we’re all hoping for!) is having your resume read and reviewed by the right person. Even better (and more rare) is to have it be a fit for an un-posted job or be such a strong/unique resume that the company wants to chat with you on an informational basis.

For really small companies that have an email listed on their website versus an “apply online” process this is a lot more likely to happen. It’s also more likely to happen if you are able to ask someone within the company to refer you (check out: how to ask for a referral) and that’s the avenue in which the recruiter receives the resume. I’ve done many informational  interviews with candidates who were referred and endorsed by people within the company.

Though it won’t land you a job, an informational is still a step in the right direction. It gives you a chance you build a relationship with the company so you can have a direct contact when a job does open up. And though it’s very rare, you may end up in exactly the right place at the right time and enter the interview process for an actual job that was un-posted or was about to open (check out: do companies post all of their jobs online).

The bottom line…

Is that your resume that’s submitted to be “kept on file” will just sit somewhere. For that reason, I wouldn’t advise that job seekers spend a ton of time sending general resumes all over the place because you’re a lot more likely to succeed when you apply for a specific job (that you’re qualified for).

That being said, if you truly have a dream company, or a great connection at a company you’d love to work for, go for it. There’s not a ton of harm in doing this as long as it’s not your only strategy.

Anyone out there have success doing this? Would love to hear in the comments! And stay tuned for a future post on how to actually go about applying to a company without a specific job in mind.

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