Sending out generic resume's

I’m getting really frustrated at how hard it is to find a job. I apply for specific job openings but I’m getting desperate and really tempted to just send out resumes to companies.

Would this hurt me, help me, or make no difference? If the standard response of HR is to just throw away an unsolicited resume then that doesn’t bother me. If it could somehow interfere with me applying for an actual opening then obviously I wouldn’t want that.

So, should I give it a try because I have nothing to lose, or is there some risk involved?

Well, honestly if you make obvious proofreading errors like in the title of this thread you are basically doomed.

Having got that out of the way, as a hiring manager I will immediately discard anything that doesn’t specifically mention a position and some specific aspect about my company. So while I might keep a resume on hand if it seems interesting and targeted to our particular department, even if I’m not looking to fill a position at the moment, a generic one that obviously was sent to 99 other places at the same time will go right into my deleted items.

Good luck!


But if later you saw that I applied for a specific opening, you wouldn’t hold the other resume against me, right?

The chances of this helping you approach zero.

In order to get hired, you need to make it obvious and clear how you can help that company. They are not going to hang around waiting to see where you fit in. They want to be able to glance at your resume and cover letter and immediately know how you will make their organization better.

Looking for a job sucks, but remember you only have to get lucky one time. Instead of broadening your job search, focus it. Do a bit or research on each position so that you can make a convincing argument that you personally will be an asset to them.

If you really have time on your hands and no relevant positions to apply for, it probably wouldn’t hurt to send cold resumes – with appropriate, company-tailored cover letters, though. Something along the lines of “I am very interested in working for your company due to <whatever reason>, and would like to be considered for openings in <area>”, or whatever.

It’s true, there is very little likelihood in this economy of this working. But if it’s that or watch daytime TV, I’d do it. It’s still definitely best to go after job postings.

There are good and bad sides to it

First of all don’t just send a resume. Go look online for a website. A lot of companies now have online applications. These are basically forms the companies make and they are designed to maximize keywords. You know things H/R people look for when they hire.

If they have that, go online and fill out an applicaiton and submit a resume that way. They WILL keep it on file and they WILL call you. I’ve been called even a year later for a job that opened up that way.

Now the downside. You’re usually last on the list. If you submit a resume to a company, often they H/R people fail to look. Then they’ll post a job somewhere, say a job board. Then if you apply for that job, you know have TWO resumes with that company, and that CAN irritate H/R people.

I’ve worked in H/R and I’ve worked WITH H/R managers and they aren’t the most computer literate people around. When I did Six Sigma (efficency) work, it was very difficult to say to H/R “Don’t post positions, till you rescan your resumes.”

With unemployment being so high H/R people are getting VERY lazy and VERY demanding. And to be fair, they are holding all the cards now.

Unsolicited resumes work best when you’re willing to take “crap” jobs. For instance, working the 11pm to 7am shift. No one wants that, so if you submit a resume saying that is what you’re looking for, even if they have no position available now, they WILL remember you because, that’s a crap shift.

Finally a lot of resume’s are classed by phone number as well as name. That it they are stored in a database with the phone number as a key

I would go to Google Voice and apply for an account and request an invite. Use this number to for your resume. So if you’ve already submitted it, you can try again with a different phone number.

The job market is so messed up, even volunteer opportunities are gone. I’ve NEVER seen that before. I’ve tried to volunteer at every place I can think of within walking distance of my house. Salvation Army, 5 hospitals, public library, two food banks etc, and no one even has openings for free work. I figured it’d be something to write on a resume.

So you may want to keep it up, you may get lucky, but it probably won’t work. Just don’t pin your hopes on it

Well, I shouldn’t have called it sending out a generic resume. I have two types of positions I would explicitly be going for, and would only target companies that have those positions, but from thinking it over and from the answers I’m receiving, I guess I won’t bother. It would be pointless.

Oregon has a volunteer program for state jobs. A few months ago I signed up for it. A few weeks later I went to an orientation and signed paperwork for a background check. A couple weeks later or so I watched a PowerPoint presentation on confidentiality for like half an hour. A lady involved with the program told me there was a department where she was sure I’d be able to get a volunteer position at. A few months later I get a call from here saying that she actually passed my info on to the department. A month later or so, and still no word on that position, or any other.

A couple of points to remember when looking for a job:

  • Hiring managers typically are looking to fill specific positions for a particular need in their specific department
  • Companies are not single monolithic entities. My company has over 150000 employees around the world. My world here consists of my group of 100 or so people in NYC.
  • Just because you are a good fit for a job does not mean that there aren’t 20 other equally good fits applying for the same job.
  • Hiring managers do not want to interview everyone under the sun to find the perfect candidate. They generally stop once they find someone they like.
  • We have short attention spans. I won’t remember you 5 minutes after I don’t hire you. And I’m not going to dig through the HR database to find your resume (I don’t think I even know how).
    So when you blindly send resumes to companies, they get stuck in a giant bucket of a million resumes just like yours. To get a job this way, some HR person needs to pull your particular resume out of the bucket using whatever vague search terms they us and then you go through the American Idol style elimination process.

The way you actually find a job is to find out who the hiring manager (or most senior manager you can realistically contact) is for the particular department you want to work in. Then you call and email them as frequently as you dare without being annoying until you get to speak to them, basically just like a salesman would.

When you do get ahold of this person, within 5 seconds you need to show them that you have something he needs right then and there. Your objective is to schedule a lunch, breakfast, coffee or whatever is convenient for the other person so you can talk in more detail.

The resume is sent once he or she asks for it so he can look at your background in more detail and your first meeting is a foregone conclusion.

The objective of the first meeting for you to convince this person they should bring you in for the formal interview process.

And basically always keep following up until you here a firm “no”.

Thank you for the advice.

Bingo. And it should be obvious this implies researching the hell out of a company before you make this call. Understand their products, understand their divisions, try to understand in general their strengths and weaknesses. If you can find a friend of a friend who knows someone in the company, even better.

Well, I don’t have connections, but I think I will start doing some research. Thanks.

A little gratuitous advice here. If you do respond to a hiring opportunity, for heaven’s sake follow the directions to the letter. An organization I belong to is advertising for the position of caretaker on an isolated island in the Washington San Juans. Our advertisements gave specific instruction of how to proceed (blank documents provided to be filled in, personnel requirements, and so forth) and probably only 10 to 20 percent of the applicants follow the instructions. Many apparently haven’t even read these instructions.

Makes it rather easy to weed out a lot of the applicants from the start.

Right now I mostly apply for state jobs. There are a lot of people retiring and departments that had hiring freezes are thawing. But anyway, I make darn sure to do everything exactly right.

This is what I found when I was on the receiving end of resumes too. Overly generic, non-tailored letters would go straight to the poopy bin.

The cover letter made a bigger difference than the resume in most cases. Generics were tossed because they didn’t even really indicate the position they were applying for, or if they did, it was because they just filled in the blank on the template.


“Dear _______, and I am interested in applying for the position of _______. I am a diligent worker who is self-motivated and I pay attention to detail. I am a team player and work well with a group or independently.”

Generic letters like that told me nothing useful.

Specific letters that said “I am applying for X because I have a related background in Y and two years experience in Z and I believe my knowledge of XYZ software could benefit your company” fared much better because it showed relevancy to the position.

I don’t think generics will hurt you for future, relevant applications, but only because they’ll get throw out and no one will remember it.