Why You’ll Never Get A Job By Searching For One


In the early days of internet job boards, I ran an experiment. I wanted to see how many jobs I could apply to in a day. I got on this kick because searching for jobs and thoughtfully applying for them was really, really boring.

I found out that I could apply for about 70 jobs a day before my eyes glazed over completely. I also found out that I could do this for 17 days in a row before I really needed a day off.

That’s almost 1,200 jobs.

The job search results

Guess what? I didn’t get a response to a single one of those jobs. Not one. Basically, they gave me every bit as much attention as I gave them.

Most people do something similar when they look for work online. Eventually, your mind numbs and it becomes impossible to tell what you’re applying for. Your judgment starts to falter and pretty soon, you’re slamming out resumes as fast as you can.

Part of the problem is that job descriptions are painfully awful to read. Part of the problem is that it seems like doing a lot of stuff and staying busy is how you get a job. Part of the problem is that everyone else feels that way and as a result, lots of companies are buried in resumes that are only sort of applicable to the job.

The people on the other end of the chain have the same problem. They look at the stack of applicants and try to sift to the ones that fit. Their eyes glaze over and they slip as they reject. Pretty soon, they are only looking for perfect fits (which guarantees that the person won’t last in the job).

So what do you do?

It may be the case that you need to do some busy work. So, by all means, apply for 10 or 20 jobs a day. Just don’t pay much attention to them.

With the other eight hours in your job hunting work day, focus on one company. Learn about it, figure out what you’d like to do there and go to work on building a network that gets you access to the people who’d hire you.

What you’re really looking for is an interview. It doesn’t really matter how you get it. Remember, all job hunting is about getting the interview.


John Sumser, a member of the Glassdoor Clearview Collection, is the founder and editor-in-chief of HRExaminer, a weekly online magazine about the people and technology of HR. Widely respected as an independent analyst, Sumser has been chronicling and critiquing the HRTechnology industry for eighteen years. During that time, he has consulted with more than 100 HR vendors on matters of strategy and positioning in the market. Prior to his involvement in the HR Technology industry, Sumser was a senior executive in Defense Technology. From large scale software development to naval architecture, he was the leader of tech development teams in a broad variety of settings. His passion is the intersection of people and technology.