Are the Unemployed Applying For Too Many Jobs?

Are jobseekers sending out too many resumes? That’s what an HR professional recently claimed in a comment on the Wall Street Job Report.

HRMASTER wrote, in response to an article about how some companies use computer scanning software to screen out resumes, that companies are justified in doing so. How else can a company handle the virtually overwhelming number of applicants for every job opening, many of whom are unqualified for?  HRMASTER said:

“If all you are doing is roaming around on the internet and submitting job applications, it’s no wonder you haven’t gotten any interviews. I love the way the comments blame the greedy corporations for using resume screening systems. How about blaming all of the idiots out there who submit hundreds of applications for job where they aren’t even remotely qualified? This is usually done in an effort to satisfy Dept. of Labor requirements about applying for X number of jobs per week in order to qualify for unemployment.”

Well, in the state of New York, while the state’s Department of Labor requires that the long-term unemployed getting extended benefits apply for jobs, they only are mandated to apply for two jobs a week, both of the job applications are required to be within their previous career fields, and they have to let the DOL know where they applied. So that cannot explain the full number of “idiots,” as HRMASTER calls them, applying for those jobs.

HRMASTER also explains how daunting the number of applicants can be:

“When I post a job and get over 1,000 applications for every position, most of which are from people who aren’t even remotely qualified; when I have to hire two people whose full-time jobs are to go through the thousands of applications to find the few people who might be a good fit; when I have to pay those people salary and benefits adding up to a couple of hundred thousand dollars per year, then you bet I’m going to buy a resume screening system for $100K.”

Many unemployed people are encouraged by job experts to apply for jobs, no matter what, and to keep on being active and getting their name out there. In addition, there have been a number of cases in which people applied for jobs they weren’t really qualified for, but they happened to be very qualified for other openings at those companies. In addition, the applicant may think that he or she is perfectly qualified for the job, while the recruiter or HR person may have a different view.

Here’s the question, though. If the vast majority of candidates are highly unqualified, why is it so hard to screen them with human eyes? HRMASTER says they only get about five or six actually qualified candidates that are worth interviewing for each posted position. He also says that many of those who get interviewed come in through networking, and not the online job application. If there are so many unqualified applicants, isn’t that something that a human could screen out nearly as quickly as a computer? After all, according to another recent story, most recruiters spend only six seconds reading each resume.

Reader Judy Intindola writes,  “It’s terrible to know that our resumes are being scanned by technology and not a pair of human eyes.” Most candidates today fear that their application will get buried under those that make better use of keywords.

Perhaps it is to be expected that in a market where supply vastly exceeds demand, those tasked with finding the needle in the haystack may feel frustrated and overworked. Yet it seems patently unfair that HR departments provide a specific vehicle for candidate application and then scorn those who apply using that vehicle. If job seekers risk irritating those they are trying to impress simply by applying for a position, how can an unemployed person hope to get ahead?

Lisa Swan is a Feature Writer for the Compliance Exchange and Wall Street Job Report. She is also a columnist for The Faster Times and a blogger for Subway Squawkers. Her work has also appeared in the New York Daily News, Yahoo Sports, Huffington Post and the books Graphical Player 2011 and Graphical Player 2010.

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