Special Report Your Job

Wanted: Lousy job, low pay

In a tight labor market, even less desirable job postings solicit thousands of responses.

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By Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney.com staff writer

Emily Smith says she has applied to hundreds of jobs in her area, from a nursing assistant to gas station attendant.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Desperate for a job and willing to take almost anything with a paycheck? Take a number.

Between the increase in overall job seekers and the reduction in the number of jobs available, competition for even the least desirable jobs has become much steeper.

Traffic to job search site Indeed.com is up 26% in the last quarter and jumped 98% from last year, according to the company.

"People are so thirsty for anything that resembles a job out there," said Dave Sanford, executive vice president of client services for Winter, Wyman, a staffing firm based in Waltham, Mass, "that candidates are applying to every opening that is even remotely possible."

Those doing the hiring are having a tougher time weeding through all the resumes to find qualified applicants.

For example, when IT Manager Mark Callahan was looking to fill an entry level position at his company, he received over 100 resumes overnight - 90% of which were unqualified for the job.

"It was a lot of work weeding through resumes," said Callahan, who was hoping to hire a desktop support technician at his company, NTWebs.

"Probably eight or 10 were qualified and of that I brought in five people to interview," Callahan said. But, "what really surprised me," he said, "was that the kinds of resumes I was receiving was for the most part, way off."

Emily Smith, 31, could have been one of those applicants. She is really an administrator by trade, but out of work and desperate, Smith says she has applied to hundreds of positions across various industries, including a housekeeping supervisor, nursing assistant, gas station attendant and "so many babysitting jobs it's not funny," she said.

Still no bites. "I have asked several potential employers how many resumes they have received and the answers range from 200 to over 3,000," she said. "How do I stand out in a list of over three thousand people when the job market is impersonal and the field is flooded with applicants?" she asked.

Smith still believes she'll have better luck outside her area of expertise. "As an admin or secretary you have to have someone move or die to get a job."

Application influx

Many job candidates are submitting resumes to openings that they aren't perfectly qualified for, Sanford of Winter, Wyman said, which is a big problem for those on the receiving end of the application process.

"Hiring mangers have to literally shovel through thousands of responses," he said.

"As a recruiter we're faced with a humongous amount of applications," said Pete Ronza, a compensation & benefits manager at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. "We could write the ad in Russian and it wouldn't matter."

Ronza says that many applications don't have a chance because they don't fit with the job requirements. "We sympathize, but we have to find the best person," he said.

Paul Forster, co-founder and CEO of Indeed.com recommends that job seekers focus their search on only those jobs they are a fit for: "don't apply for jobs you're overqualified for or under qualified for," he said. "Companies notice candidates with the skills and experience they're looking for. If you don't have these, your resume will be ignored."

He also says that in today's competitive market, cover letters must be customized to the company or individual recipient. "Try to show how your qualifications and experience relate to the company's needs."

In addition, spend time on the company's Web site and read up on company news, Forster suggests. If possible, find out who is interviewing and learn about them. If you know anyone who works at a company you are applying to, ask them for advice.

Candidates have to find ways to differentiate themselves, rather than just blanketing the job market with resumes. "Don't resort to the shot gun approach," Forster said.

Have you found a job recently? We want to hear from you. Send us an email and attach a photo. Tell us where you got hired and how you landed the job and you could be profiled in an upcoming story on CNNMoney.com.

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