Taking the 'Shotgun Approach' to Job Applications Could Be a Major Career Mistake. Here's Why You Should Avoid It. The term was popularized by a 2012 Reddit thread.

By Emily Rella

Key Takeaways

  • The "shotgun approach" to job seeking is in the spotlight again due to a viral Reddit thread.
  • The approach is defined as applying to as many jobs as possible at once, without tweaking or tailoring one's resume.
  • Many say that this method is ineffective as the candidate becomes lost in a sea of hundreds.

A controversial method of applying to jobs resurfaced in a viral Reddit thread this week, which put the notion of the "shotgun approach" back in the spotlight.

Much like a shotgun wedding or shotgunning a canned drink entails, the shotgun approach to job-searching means rapidly firing off resumes and applications and casting a wide net of opportunity instead of tailoring your resume or narrowing your search to jobs that match your skill set and desired role.

The term was coined in 2012 by a Reddit user who defined it as filling out as "many applications as possible and see[ing] which ones stick/progress."

In the subreddit R/unpopular opinion, a thread titled, "People that say they applied for hundreds of jobs and can't get an interview are going about the whole job search process wrong" talks about the impersonality that comes with shotgun applying — and has nearly 2,000 responses so far.

Related: This Job Seeker Went Viral for Printing Her Resume on a Cake

"I honestly think if they instead took their time, tweaked their resume a bit for each job application, and catered their job application to the company they are applying for then it'd be a lot easier for them. Quality over quantity, y'know," the original poster wrote while describing their own experience landing a job during their senior year of college after tweaking their resume for every position they applied to. "I sincerely think if people stopped shotgun applying with a generic resume and bland experience, they'd have better chances of landing a job."

Many agreed with the original poster, pointing out that the ease and ability to apply to jobs online through job sites like LinkedIn or Indeed makes it much easier to just click and apply, even if you're not really interested in that position.

Related: Record High: U.S. Now Has 2 Job Openings for Every Person Who Is Unemployed

"I think this is why LinkedIn/reaching out to the hiring team or current employees is really important now," one user mused. "You have to get an in because otherwise, you're just an application in a pile of 1000."

"Digitizing job applications creates the 'Tinder Problem' where one party is flooded with responses and the other party is lucky to get one or two," another said in agreement. "Disadvantages to both sides because the ease at which people can access your job board now means you can get flooded with unqualified candidates, but on the other end you could be an amazing candidate but get lost in an ocean of others."

According to a career guide published by the job search platform Indeed, it's better to avoid the shotgun approach and instead focus on making your application the best it can be for a smaller quantity of jobs.

"When you apply for a multitude of jobs, it's easy to submit the same resume and cover letter for each," the company wrote. "Make your resume and cover letter stand out to hiring managers by tailoring them to not only the industry you're in but also the job position and company, too."

According to Monster, nearly 96% of employed workers were seeking a new job at the beginning of 2023.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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