How to apply for multiple jobs at once

Written by: Cameron Collins
Published on: 9 Oct 2017

Many of us have been there. So eager to find a job that we apply for every potentially relevant role in sight, just hoping for the best. Exhaust every job-board and you can have hundreds of applications sent in under an hour, what’s not to like? Eventually the replies start coming in, mostly rejections; some companies don’t respond at all, but every now and then you get that golden message, an interview invite… to a job you may have little interest in.

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It’s a double edged sword, that’s for sure and while the benefits of an increased outreach are undeniable, the spray and pray method just never seems to yield the desired results; so is it even worth it? To be frank, it all comes down to that line between flexibility in job-searching and desperation. It sounds simple enough, but within that line, there are as many factors at play as there are jobs available, so it can be confusing. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about applying for multiple jobs at once.

That fine line

To properly discuss flexibility in job-seeking, one must first consider what flexibility in job-seeking actually is: On a scale of hypertechnicality to chronic desperation, flexibility lands somewhere in the middle. To be hypertechnical is to apply for one job in a hundred, considering only the jobs that meet your exact specifications; in short, it’s that perfect job or nothing. It can certainly work, assuming you’re lucky enough to find that ideal job. However, if your specifications are too narrow you’ll be at risk of over-specifying yourself into a corner, never finding a job that ticks every box. This is a case in which flexibility is required; if you’re having trouble finding a job to fit your specifications, it may be worth broadening your search and giving time to jobs that only good, rather than perfect.

That is, in essence, flexibility in job-seeking: Expanding your search to include positions you may not have considered otherwise, perhaps even utilizing your more transferable skills in ways you wouldn’t expect. Now, about that fine line: If being flexible is settling for a good job, rather than the best job, then one can define desperation as settling for any job, no matter how much you hate the sound of it.

How to go about it

Make no mistake, the act of applying for every job in sight is one that can reek of desperation; however, this method of job-searching can yield some decent results if gone about in the right way. It all depends on whether or not you decide to tailor your application, that is – alter your CV and cover letter to fit the specifications set out in the job posting. To be hyperbolic; CV tailoring makes the difference between taking a deep breath and aiming before you shoot, and closing your eyes and firing around randomly. You’ll always be more likely to hit your targets if you take your time.

For this reason, it’s worth putting some extra time into closely analysing any job applications that stand out to you. For example, a diligent job-seeker would take note of any desirable qualities listed in the posting and do their best to reflect them in their CV. It’s strange to think, but even details as minute as wording can make a massive difference towards you being called in for an interview. An increasing number of organisations are beginning to check CVs and cover letters with ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software, which searches for particular keywords and filters the applications before they even have a chance to come under a pair of human eyes. For this reason, it’s important to take the time to single out keywords in a job posting yourself and replicate them within your application; otherwise you run the risk of being automatically rejected. Words and phrases relating to skills, experience, and aptitudes are the ones you should look for.

Keeping your eyes open

If, for whatever reason, you happen to be looking for ways to trip yourself up, then look no further; the process of applying for multiple jobs at once offers many ways to do just that. If you’re applying for every job in sight, there’s no shortage of easily makeable mistakes that can completely ruin your chances, even if everything else in your application was perfect.

Firstly, you have the terrible err of applying for the same job twice. It’s easily done, especially if you’ve taken to applying for every job you can. Plenty of recruiters advertise vacancies on multiple job boards at once, so if you don’t read every job description in full, you run the risk of making this mistake. Applying for the same job twice can also make you look both desperate and disingenuous. If anything, it makes it extremely obvious that you haven’t read the job description.

Similarly, you be careful when applying for multiple jobs at the same organisation – especially if the jobs are vastly different in nature. Doing so can make you look dispassionate. However, if you have your eye on working for a particular organisation, getting an interview after applying for multiple jobs at once is certainly doable. Obviously, you’ll have to limit how many applications you make at a time; this can vary depending on the size of the company, but I’d say 3 at most is a safe bet. You can also increase your chances by solely applying for jobs in a similar field, which will give the impression that you’re passionate about the kind of work you do.

Finally, you should be careful of sending a largely irrelevant CV. If you don’t read the application in full, it’s very easy to send out a CV that has nothing to do with the job you’re applying for. This can be remedied by either tailoring your CV, or sitting down and figuring out if the job is really for you; whether this be deciding if you want the job, or thinking about if you can even do the job.

So does it work?

Short answer, it can – if you know what you’re doing. Applying for every job you see is a method filled with potholes, just waiting for you to fall into them. Not paying attention to where you send your CV can even lead to you messing up a perfectly good application – one that could have possibly lead to an interview. Just make sure you read every job description, remember which jobs you’ve already applied for and properly tailor each application. Keep that in mind and your job hunt may yield fantastic results. Take your time and you won’t have to apply for jobs you might hate, broaden your horizons and you may find a job that’s just as good as the one you dream about. There’s a lot of jobs out there and almost certainly one that’s right for you. As always, good luck!