As a recruiter, I have been puzzled by a phenomenon that has become more profound as the recession goes on. It is something that my colleagues in corporate have told me frustrates them, too. I didn’t understand why it occurred until recently when at a networking group someone explained to me the rationale.

The phenomena—sending resumes that don’t fit a job description.

Each time I post a job description on the web or email it to a referral source, I am always surprised by the number of responses I receive that in no way fit the job. A Partner job in San Francisco for someone from consulting that clearly explains what the client wants yields scads of resumes of programmers in Ohio who work in manufacturing. A project management ad calling for both RUP AND UML always get responses of people with one or the other. A developer ad listing 6 essential requirements and 4 plusses yields resumes with two of the six required skills and an irate call from the submitter saying that I’m wrong and that he fits the job. Another person sends 5 resumes for different jobs that require very different expertise from management to staff level roles in applications and infrastructure.

Why does this happen? There are two reasons that I’ve heard and they’re both pretty similar.

1. Desperate times result in desperate actions. What the heck! Let me send it. I read the ad. I know what it says but they can’t possibly want all that.

2. The outplacement firm told me to send it if I meet 70% of the job description.

They’re both pretty similar. The second one basically puts the blame on advice from someone else for why the resume is sent.Yet, 99.9 times out of 100, sending that resume doesn’t result in an interview, does it? As a matter of fact, it doesn’t even result in a phone call. What it results in is a deleted resume, momentary annoyance on the part of the recipient who, whether a corporate or agency recruiter who you need to ally yourself with, rather than antagonize, and wasted time.

For an agent, the issue of time being wasted impacts their ability to help you and the other 2000 people in their personal data base find work by keeping them from networking to other job openings. For a corporate recruiter, the list of issues is far longer.

But, you say, the outplacement firm my company sent me to when I was laid off said to do it!

What does it matter to them? Do they have to receive and receive the emails or do they have the luxury of creating the mess and expecting someone else to deal with it? And then they say, “Those useless so and so’s never do their job right!” On behalf of all recruiterdom, I’m going to make a request. Please stop sending resumes to jobs where you don’t fit the description.It’s OK to send a resume and say that you’re sending it on an exploratory basis. It’s OK to tell the unemployment office that you’ve submitted it to 20 jobs even if you’ve sent 20 exploratory resumes.

It is not OK to pester people with five calls a day asking if they’ve read your resume. It is not OK to be disappointed if you send in a resume where you are a poor fit. You should be rejected.
It is a better investment of your time to network by phone with a million people but stop calling or emailing with messages that say that you more than adequately meet the job description when you don’t (That was an email today—a Partner position for someone from a consulting firm in Dallas who was in the manufacturing practice, resulted in such a statement from someone from industry and finance. [Yes, he lived in Dallas]).

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Do you really think employers are trying to help you? You already know you can’t trust recruiters—they tell as they think you need to know to take the job they after representing so they collect their payday.

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a career coach and recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. is there to change that with great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.

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