People often ask me how many jobs they should apply for and if there is a general per day, per week, or per month guideline I believe in. “How many jobs should I apply for?” is a loaded question and the answer often depends… but let me just say, sometimes less is more!
I’ve been on both ends of the hiring process. I’ve been the person looking for a job, applying for anything at all that looked interesting, and I’ve also been the person reading through every single resume that comes through my company’s website.
It may be logical to think “the more applications I submit, the better chance I have of getting a job,” but that is not the case. Though there is no magic number for how many jobs you should apply for, I want to make the case for quality over quantity when it comes to submitting job applications.
Here are my top 3 reasons why you should resist the temptation to cast a wider net:
1. It can make you look bad.
If you apply for a ton of different roles within the same company, you risk coming across as desperate and unfocused. If I am a recruiter, I can see that in your application history with my company. If I’m considering you for a marketing assistant role (because you look like a great candidate for it) but I see that you’ve applied to 10 other jobs varying in focus and level, I’m naturally going to think that you’re not really that passionate about marketing. Being flexible and applying to a few related jobs is one thing, but being all over the map is not a great way to come across.
2. If you’re not qualified, it won’t increase your chances.
You have to be qualified for the roles you are applying to — period. No amount of applications submitted will get you a job that you don’t have the skills or experience for.
It’s okay to reach for roles that might be just slightly out of your range. If the job is asking for four years of experience and you have three, go for it. However, if that same job is asking for four years of experience and you graduated a month ago, it’s not going to be the right fit. Read the job description and apply for the roles you are truly qualified for.
3. It’s not a good use of your time!
Applying for jobs can take a lot of time and your time would be better spent doing many other things. Take the time you would normally spend blindly applying to jobs and put it into things that will actually increase your chances of landing one. Whether it is volunteering, interning, working part time, taking a course, or learning a new skill, all of these things will help you much more than casting a wide net.
In addition to not casting too wide a net, focus on quality versus quantity.
I am a huge proponent of making each application (for the jobs you are qualified for and passionate about) really count. So for those, instead of letting the resume float around the resume black hole, spend your time spreading the word that you applied and how interested you are. Leverage your personal relationships, alumni connections, and of course, LinkedIn, to get the conversation started with that company.