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Friday, June 12, 2009

dropping off your resume in person

A reader writes:

What type of cover letter should you write to go with your resume when you are going to drop off your resume at several different companies? I have several years experience in the loan processing field and want to go to companies in this field and ask if it is ok to leave my resume with them. I am not sure if this is a good way to get a job as I have never had to do this before, but I am hoping it will help me in my pursuit of finding a job.

Well, to answer your question before I rant about what I want to rant about, use the exact same sort of cover letter that you'd use if you were applying any other way.

Now that that's out of the way: I really don't recommend this tactic at all. Most companies include specific instructions about how they want you to apply, and it's pretty unlikely that "in person" is included. Plus, many companies only accept resumes electronically because they get put into an electronic screening system. Third, this is unnecessarily gimmicky; save yourself the time, apply online, and if you're a strong candidate, they'll contact you.

Yes, yes, everyone has heard a story about someone who went by to drop off their resume in person and got interviewed and hired on the spot. It's still, in general, not a good use of your time. (Everyone has also heard the story about the guy who sent a shoe in with his application, asking to "get a foot in the door." That guy is a cheeseball. Don't be him. Don't be any of these urban legends.)


Anonymous said...

I'm somewhat surprised to hear from the manager that this method of job searching is absolutely not acceptable. With due respect that different employers have some guidelines and preferences when it comes to hiring/selection process, this still could potentialls save them some money spent on advertising and going through piles of resumes....There's an Employment Support Program called "Job Club" that teaches based on stats and research of employers that cold calling and visiting employers in person has worked for may job applicants in the past. Do you suggest that the times has changed so much that visiting employer in person and being prepared to market yourself is something of old days?
I really would like to know your thoughts on that.

Anonymous said...

You asked for numbers, here's some

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the link didn't seem to worked. One more time.

Unknown said...

in general i don't meet with walk-in applicants. the main reason for this is because the average job seeker isn't nearly as qualified/a good fit for whatever position they are interested in. it just wouldn't be a good use of my time. i'm busy, can't waste time.

Ask a Manager said...

Anonymous, I'm sure there are some industries where it's different, but yes, I definitely do consider it it something from the old days that isn't welcomed/effective anymore. Again, I'm sure it's not true in all industries, but that's my experience.

Anonymous said...

imho it's okay to drop off your resume in person if: 1. There is a help wanted sign posted on the window and 2. Publicly advertised cattle call/Job Fair or 3. Someone in a position of authority asks you to do it.

Other than that, I agree with AAM. I expect applicants will follow directions and not try to usurp my hiring process. There's a method to the madness, if I wrote an ad that read submit your resume via email - submit it via email. Site via site. Fax via fax. Bring it with you, do it.

Why I don't want people just wandering in, making demands on my and my staffs time... look, we don't have extra time. We barely have enough time to get the work done as it is without someone showing up with a 'I'm here!' resume.

Frankly, it isn't fair to the job seeker either. Say they take the time to drop their resume off in person unannounced. We'd take it, but they're isn't anyone to meet them, greet them, talk to them about the opportunity. How is this a good use of their time? And how is this a good representation of either company or candidate? I liken this scenario to showing up unannounced at my MIL, you get what you get when you don't call in advance.... and that can be downright scary.

Anonymous said...

I think it's important to note that this is not true in many industries, especially those with high turnover or general labor. I am a shift manager in a restaurant and when I was putting in applications I found this to be by far THE most effective way to get a job. Just a thought for those of us not in the professional world.

Legal Secretary said...

I actually HAVE dropped off my resume in person, was interviewed right then and did get the job. Back in the days when we looked in the newspaper for jobs -- I saw the ad for the job on Sunday, but Monday was a holiday and I knew that my resume wouldn't arrive at the office until Wednesday. Since I was pretty sure this office would not be closed on the holiday, I took a chance and dropped off my resume in person on Monday, interviewed on Monday and by Friday I was hired. Loved that job! Was sorry when my family had to relocate and I had to leave the position. These days, most of the ads I answer I find on the internet and the ads are constructed such that it's difficult to determine who the potential employer is.

Rachel - former HR blogger said...

Dropping off your resume in person only works in retail and entry level positions.

I HATE when people drop off their resumes in person at my office. I never meet with them. The quality of the candidates is almost always lower when they come in person.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if this applies to US situation, but in several countries that provide basic unemployment benefits, a person on such benefits may be required to take "job seeking courses" or apply for X jobs per week to keep their benefit. They will be, not encouraged, but outright told, to hand out unsolicited CVs to unsuspecting companies and making time consuming follow up calls. If they don't, they lose their benefits.

Then the governing body will sometimes take up more of the hiring manager's time by sample-calling companies on the list of "jobs sought" - that the unemployed has been forced to provide - to check if they have handed in CVs where they said they did. In some countries this has led to people without high school diplomas applying for jobs as consultant surgeons and lecturers in math etc (after exhausting all the work places where they meet the requirements) in order to qualify for the benefit.

Needless to say, the governing bodies don't care a jot about the embarrassed job seeker, nor the stressed out hiring manager who will have to go through piles of unsuitable CVs. As long as they don't look like their soft on the unemployed nothing else matters.

Anonymous said...

...they're... *tired*

Charles said...

Why all the animosity against drop-offs (especially from some of the commenters here)?

I understand that no one should expect to "just show up" and get an interview; and yes, I would exclude someone who did expect that. I also understand that many organizations today want applications only via their online database.

But, would recruiters really be justified in excluding someone who took the time to research their organization, then took the time to scout out their location to drop off a resume to let someone know that they were interested in working at their organization?

When they dropped it off, if the receptionist or whomever stated that it would be best to apply online and the candidate agreed to do so would you still exclude them?

The reason I ask, is that after a few months of reading several of these HR/Recruiting/Management blogs I get the feeling that there are many in the position of hiring that seem to use what I would consider to be "irrational" reasons for excluding folks who might otherwise be good candidates.

Paul said...

I've only worked in low end jobs posted to Craigs list (not counting military service) And this is the way I generally stand out and get ahead of the pack as my low experience makes it that much harder to even get talked to.

That said I would stop when applying for mid or upper level jobs as those jobs are far more likly to want people who can be ran through a database.

Really this only works for ground level jobs and jobs in places with high turnover.

Anonymous said...


Good thoughts, but like Charles suggested, I am surprised that everyone is anti-dropping off a resume. They obviously have not had to get a job in today's job climate with little help from contacts (or at least it's unlikely).

I'm in a new Canadian city trying to get a job, and it's BRUTAL. I have a degree, a diploma, and work experience in 3 different fields, and I'm having trouble getting jobs in those fields even! I can't even get interviews!

The problem is that employers are getting millions of resumes, and inevitably they are going to take someone with more job experience in the area than me. I have a substantial education that I've spent years on - and I'm passionate about - but that counts for 6 years of wasted time in the real world right now. It's a joke to try to find a job within my area of interest. I have exceptional writing skills and a typing speed of 80wpm, among other skills, but that appears to mean nothing to most employers.

"Would recruiters really be justified in excluding someone who took the time to research their organization, then took the time to scout out their location to drop off a resume to let someone know that they were interested in working at their organization?...I get the feeling that there are many in the position of hiring that seem to use what I would consider to be "irrational" reasons for excluding folks who might otherwise be good candidates." - You are exactly right Charles. Recruiters appear to be using a method that is not the best. being presentable and eager to work for a company is sometimes more valuable than not fitting every qualification 110%. I realize that recruiters don't have much time, but they should at least be open to resumes submitted in person and give them a quick overlook. If someone showed up who was eager and presentable and displayed company knowledge and had a killer resume (even if not fitting 110% of qualifications), this individual should be at least given a chance (interview).

I suppose I don't know what it is like in HR. However I know what it's like as a job seeker, and it f'n sucks. The economy, of course, is shit right now, but all the same, I have no idea how I'm supposed to get a job when I put out 100 resumes online the "proper" way, and get at best 3-5 interviews. It's that bad.

Also, I have to say that the author of this post needs to qualify his general statement about "not bothering to apply in person for ANY job because it's a waste of time." There are jobs, as commenters have indicated, that favor this process (secretarial, high turnover positions, retail, entry-level, etc.) You have to be sneaky about it though, you have to find a way to slowly move up in the company with only using 1 minute of peoples' time. Eventually you'll get someone who gets interested and might give you a chance. It's tough though, and I would say it wasn't worth the effort, if I didn't apply for 100 resumes in the last two weeks and get 5 replies.

Ultimately I'm disheartened that I've spent years SPENDING money to get a good education, and I'm getting no value out of it; at least right now. The system is definitely full of holes.


Anonymous said...

[also continued]

Also, I should say that I respect the blogger's opinion and I recognize his position. I understand company employees are all really busy and there is no time to converse with random unqualified individuals. However I think that in the customer service field it should be reasonable to take a second to acknowledge a potential qualified employee.

Anonymous said...

Okay so Cold Calls are outdated, I get it. There are so many companies that may have jobs coming available soon is it okay to go inside and ask if they have a website specified for their employee search?

Ask a Manager said...

Anonymous, why not just do a google search for their website on your own? You're going to look sort of un-resourceful if you show up in person to ask.

Sam E. said...

The ideas presented by the original poster seem one sided towards a management prospective. Of course managers, don't want people coming into their office but how does one stand out with little or no work experience? Granted actually showing up isn't the only way to do this but it is certainly one way. Maybe it wouldn't help but I have a hard time believing that it could possibly hurt. The advice might be fine for someone with several years of experience who would really stand out but for someone fresh out of college with little experience I think it could be smart to try everything possible. When considering whether or not to follow a strategy the primary concern shouldn't be how much it could annoy a manager.

Ask a Manager said...

Sam, they're slanted toward a management perspective, because that is who is doing the hiring. You need to see things like the hiring manager would.

Sam E. said...

@Ask a manager,

It seemed to me the essence of the post was that people shouldn't drop off resumes in person because doing so could possibly annoy a manager. This is a legitimate point but the question shouldn't be does doing X make a managers job easier or harder? The question should be does doing X give an applicant an advantage?

The post would have been better had the manager considered from an applicants prospective how other ways of standing out could be more acceptable/effective. The post condemn's dropping off a resume but then doesn't give practical advice about what an alternative could be other than posting a resume on a website.

The problem is many people's resume isn't enough to make them stand out by itself and the idea someone with an unimpressive resume should just give up trying to stand out in any way strikes me as anti-pragmatic.

In short if you're probably not going to be hired based on a resume alone I think doing something is better than nothing and the poster seems to be suggesting the latter.

Ask a Manager said...

Sam, the problem is that it often makes you LESS likely to be considered, because it shows you don't follow directions or understand how to value a hiring manager's time.

The way you stand is out by being a great candidate, the specifics of which we talk about in many other posts. Not by using a tactic that has nothing to do with your qualifications for the job.

Sam E. said...

@Ask a Manager
Well that is definitely one perspective. However, I still don't see how it could really hurt an applicant who wouldn't stand out in the normal hiring process and is already doing everything reasonablly possible to drop off an application in person assuming doing so is not inconvient for the applicant.

Anonymous said...

In my job seeking a lot of ads say to email or bring in person. For my field, financial work, my emailed resumes are obviously not getting into the A pile, not passing the initial screening or whatever. So with the invitation to drop off in person, I'm at least getting a feel for the company culture and can ask the receptionist what it's like to work there and get a conversation started. Then they take my application into the back where I assume some comments to someone higher up can follow. That's my logic and so far neither way has worked but it seems like dropping off in person is okay, especially when managers are annoyed with getting hundreds of emailed resumes they're not even going to bother printing and holding in their hand.

I've also done hiring in retail and computer technology and of course an emailed resume isn't even going to get looked at when you've already met some nice people who bothered to drop by in person.