After a fruitless job search — endlessly scanning Monster.com and Craigslist and tweaking resumes and cover letters — he grew more curious about his competitors. So he created a fake Craigslist ad for an administrative assistant position and, in one day, received 653 responses from applicants with a wide range of education and experience. He wrote about what he learned from the applicants for Thought Catalog.
"I usually apply to two types of jobs, the first being teaching positions or publishing positions or any position I can use my master's in English for," Auld tells NPR's Neal Conan, "and those other jobs being those lower-end, entry-level kind of positions that everybody seems to be applying for nowadays."Here's the ad he posted:
Administrative Assistant needed for busy Midtown office. Hours are Monday through Friday, nine to five. Job duties include: filing, copying, answering phones, sending e-mails, greeting clients, scheduling appointments. Previous experience in an office setting preferred, but will train the right candidate. This is a full-time position with health benefits. Please e-mail résumé if interested. Compensation: $12-$13 per hour.He got 653 responses. Of these, 37% had 3+ years of actual experience, 22% had 1-2 years of experience and 41% had either less than a year's experience or none. 39% had a bachelor's degree, 3% had a masters, 24% w/an associate's and 34% had a high school diploma/GED.
Mr. Auld's conclusions for his job search?
1.) Employers won’t notice me by my résumé alone. This one I kind of knew already, but I need to actually follow through with my lesson. Am I really going to stand out in a tidal wave of 626 applications? Probably not. What I should do is figure out methods to grab the employer’s attention, whether it’s finding out if anyone I know works with the organization, seeking out a personal recommendation, or calling to double-check that the employer received my résumé (even though we all know how daunting actual phone calls can be). I need to find additional ways to let the employer know that I am the right man for the job. Anything to make the employer say, “Ah, yes, Mr. Auld,” and not, “Oh, right, Applicant #24601.”
2.) When job searching on Craigslist, apply to positions immediately. 49 percent of responses to this non-existent position were submitted in the first three hours alone — that’s 317 emails. I know that when I apply for jobs, I like to imagine my résumé near the top of the pile; this helps me sleep at night (in addition to scotch). Because of this experiment, I’ve decided to not bother submitting to Craigslist positions that are more than one day old. As for other sites, I’ll probably discard any postings that have been up for more than one week. “But Eric, why?” you ask. Because, gentle Reader: that’s just how I roll.
3.) Expect the application review process to take a while. I repeat: 626 résumés in one day. That’s all I have to say about that.I have, at times, considered doing a similar experiment. Between the deception required and the financial commitment ($600 for an ad on ACS Careers), I decided not to do it. But it's instructive to see the inflow when someone has. Fascinating.