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Top 3 Ways to Waste Time On Your Job Search

As a professional recruiter and career coach, I receive hundreds of resumes each week from eager job-seekers. I have noticed that some candidates are unintentionally decreasing their odds of getting an interview by not using the time they devote to their job search in the most productive manner. By sharing these top three time-wasters, hopefully my “insider” view will help you find your new role that much quicker.

1. Applying for positions you are clearly not qualified for.

Bottom line: If you are not a fit, then be legit. I call it the "hail mary" of the recruiting world when a job-seeker submits a resume for a particular role despite being vastly underqualified or overqualified. It's essentially spamming a recruiter or hiring manager and viewing it as a productive step toward finding a job. It isn't. If the position calls for 2-4 years of experience and you have 20-plus, the hiring manager won’t consider you. Overqualified and underqualified candidates are viewed essentially the same: as “non-fits.” Recruiters receive literally thousands of resumes per job posting, and this information overload creates a strong dislike for people who waste time. If you are not a fit for a specific role or have to stretch your experience too far, then please don’t apply for that particular position. Your “random submission” creates the impression that you are desperate for a job… any job. Spend time on the roles for which you are really suited. The one caveat to this is: If you know someone at the company and have an “in,” perhaps you can find out whether they are willing to give you a chance despite not having the ideal candidate profile.

2. Including all relevant information for a specific job in a cover letter, but not on your actual resume.

Treat your resume as your one true marketing document, and tweak and tweak some more for every job that you apply for. Given the volume of resumes that recruiters receive, cover letters are skimmed at best, or at worst, never opened. In addition, since recruiters generally do not forward cover letters to hiring managers, your resume needs to stand on its own. To the best of your ability, make your resume "bleed" the job description for which you are applying. Make sure you add specific phrases from the job description so recruiters can quickly see that your experience is a match. Not too long ago, a study was done that showed the average recruiter reviews a resume for just six seconds, so make them count. Long paragraphs won’t be read, so use boldface to highlight important information.

3. Applying to jobs only through websites or online postings.

Given the volume of resumes corporate recruiters receive, it has been my experience that the contact/interview rate is much lower when you submit your resume through a web portal for a specific company or job board, versus doing some due diligence and finding an “in,” and getting your resume walked into HR or handed to the hiring manager. If you a see a blind posting and the company name is not indicated, you have little choice but to send your resume, hope they receive it, and keep your fingers crossed that they will contact you. But if the company is identified, check LinkedIn and take the extra time to do some networking to see if you have any connections that can help get your resume to the top of the pile. Job hunting is stressful enough, so take the necessary proactive steps to increase your chances of getting that interview. Focus on the jobs that are a true fit. Spend the time you used to dedicate to applying for those “long shots” on networking and tailoring your resume to reflect the requirements for each job that’s a real possibility. This will definitely help to increase the odds in your favor.This post was originally published on an earlier date. Elisa Sheftic is the President and Managing Partner of Right Executive Search, LLC. Her expertise is placing mid- to C-level executives in the Financial Technology (fintech) and Financial Services industries. She communicates with Human Resources, Hiring Managers, and candidates on a daily basis and offers insights to clients and candidates on recruiting best practices. Elisa received her MBA from New York University and completed her HR post-graduate studies at Cornell University.

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