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.)

{ 69 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    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.

  2. shawn*

    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.

  3. Ask a Manager*

    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.

  4. Anonymous*

    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.

    1. Anonymous*

      Yeah like if you do submit your resume on-line you get any better results. The truth is that if you are really looking for someone to hire you will welcome people who are looking for your position that is available. If you just want see who is interested then, on-line is the best way. It never hurts to stop by in person and show your face. It can make all the difference sometimes.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Well, no — it does hurt, most of the time, because it annoys hiring managers and makes you look like you don’t understand how the hiring process works.

  5. Anonymous*

    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.

  6. Legal Secretary*

    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.

  7. Rachel - I Hate HR*

    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.

  8. Anonymous*

    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.

  9. Charles*

    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.

    1. Anonymous*

      I agree with this. The system of hiring now days is a little skewed in my opinion. I under stand that taking the time to people that are drop offs is time consuming and all but the truth is that this is your job HR directors. The resume is only the first step in the hiring process and if thats all your base your initial decision on then it sucks for everyone else.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Um, no, it’s not their job. They’ve set out a process for candidates to use, and it’s perfectly reasonable to screen out people who don’t/can’t follow it.

        1. John*

          Um, yes, it is. I am well aware that this is quite an old thread, but this begs a response.

          I am an HR Manager. The job of an HR Manager (when it comes to recruiting and hiring) is NOT to lay out some process for candidates to use to apply, it is to manage a company’s Human Capital in the most effective way possible and to grow that capital so that the company has more resources to draw upon. I fail to understand management who would exclude hiring an extremely talented and smart individual on the basis of his/her failure to properly fill out an internet form (which by the way, quite often gets screened out by software that is totally incapable of recognizing creativity or talent and instead bases the its decision on a few keywords). I find that if I want real talent, I have to utilize every resource available, and that includes spending a little time each day talking to walk-ins.

          To those of you who say, you are too busy to deal with walk-ins… pull yourselves together. You should never be to busy to scout potential talent. You can tell within a few seconds of meeting someone if they have the potential to be an asset, and if they don’t, shut it down quickly and move on with your day. If they do, everybody wins.

          1. KellyK*

            I think this might come into play more if you’re hiring for harder-to-fill positions. If you get 300 applicants, 30 of which would all probably be very good and your selection process is just about finding the *best* of those 30, then it doesn’t hurt anything to ditch an additional 5 who dropped off resumes in person. If you only have 100 applicants, most of whom are dreadful, and you’re having trouble finding 5 people you even want to interview, then it makes a lot more sense to consider the random resume-droppers.

        2. anynomous*

          What if there is no stated process in place? What if you’re just interested in working for a company? In my case, an accounting firm? I have found that many small accounting firms don’t even have an employee or career section on their website. But in my case, a smaller firm will fit my life situation. Is dropping off a resume and a cover letter still a bad idea? Thx

  10. Paul*

    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.

  11. Anonymous*


    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.


  12. Anonymous*

    [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.

  13. Anonymous*

    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?

  14. Sam E.*

    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.

  15. Ask a Manager*

    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.

  16. Sam E.*

    @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.

  17. Ask a Manager*

    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.

  18. Sam E.*

    @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.

  19. Anonymous*

    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.

  20. Anonymous*

    While I absolutely agree that dropping off your resume “in person” is not the best solution, that is how I landed my first entry job. It was a huge surprise! While dropping off my resume I ended up speaking to the manager of the department I was applying to, he called me the next day to schedule an interview, sent my resume to HR, I went through the entire hiring process and got the job! I was thrilled because I had been looking for exactly this job for months but to no avail!

    While emailing resume and applying online seems to be the only option left, making the effort and actually getting yourself to the location can sometimes pay off. This of course depends on the industry

  21. Erik*

    Dear AAM, I normally am a big fan of your advice, but I have to say that I am the guy from the urban legend who couldn’t get a job until he showed up in person. Maybe the academic world is different from the corporate world, but here is my story.
    After earning my MA in English literature at a well-known university in Ireland, I returned to my home in the States and began trying to contact the English department chairs for many local colleges to see about teaching entry-level writing and/or literature classes. I sent e-mail after e-mail with a well-written cover letter and resume attached. I only received a few replies and they were all brief rejections. My mother kept pressing me to show up in person, but I insisted that it was really rude to do that and a waste of time for someone who is both a full-time administrator and classroom instructor. But after six months, I was desperate, so I showed up outside the office of one of the English chairs I had e-mailed.
    After I introduced myself briefly, she seemed happy to meet me. She said that she had her spam folder set so that she only receives e-mails from the campus domain name (which I still think is really strange) so she didn’t get my cover letter or resume. She said that I was fully qualified to teach Eng. 101, but that all of the adjunct positions had been filled. She said she’d give me a call if something opened up, as adjuncts frequently abandon her at the last second for better job offers. About two months later she had another professor call me and offer me the job, and now I’m getting ready to teach my first class this coming fall semester. If I had just followed my mother’s advice from the start, there is a good chance that I could have started at the beginning of last Fall semester and be teaching more classes by now. Not to mention that I would already have my course plans fully outlined, so I could have spent this summer dedicated to my PhD applications.
    I’m sorry, but I’m not an urban legend. I have a real pulse, resume, and now, a job.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m glad you got a job, but the fact that this worked for you doesn’t make it good advice in general! You can always find some crazy tactic that worked a handful of times — but if it fails 99.9% of the time, even though it worked that .1%, then it’s not a good tactic to recommend!

      1. Erik*

        Well, I think it is important to note that different industries and disciplines have different cultures. It’s true that academic department chairs are administrators/managers with all of the same duties and responsibilities as their counterparts in the corporate world, but these are not people who got into their fields because they wanted to be managers when they grew up. So I’ve noticed their way of doing things is a little less organized/efficient than I have seen in other industries. Actually, when I stop and think about it, colleges and universities operate differently on many levels than the corporate world.

  22. A.J.*

    I’d sincerely like to know how dropping off your resume in person is a hindrance if you adhered to the application procedures? I’ve talked to a lot of HR people, and they have all said that coming in sets you apart from the rest that they move from one stack to the next– along with following up.

    I see this as terrible advice in addition to being called “a gimmick.” How is showing up to a potential job after you’ve applied properly and looking professional a gimmick? I definitely see how this is from the manager’s slant only because there are many gimmicks to discourage qualified applicants from pursuing a job.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, first of all, “adhering to the application” procedures usually means applying online. It’s been a very long while since I’ve seen application instructions that say to apply in person.

      Dropping off your resume will get you removed from the running at many companies. I don’t know who these HR people are that you’ve talked to, but I’d suggest reading the comments in this thread, and you’ll hear from lots of people explaining why dropping off in person is a bad idea … unless you’re in retail or food service, where the rules are different. Also, these days most companies track applications electronically, so many don’t want to accept hard copies at all.

  23. A.J.*

    Honestly, what do you do then? There doesn’t seem to be anything else out there to set yourself apart, then. As someone who is attempting to change fields with basically no experience, if dropping off a resume in person doesn’t actually HELP– my only option is to be unemployed.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      As I say a lot on this site, the way you stand out is by being an incredibly qualified candidate, writing a great cover letter, and being friendly, responsive, thoughtful, and enthusiastic. If you’re trying to stand out via anything not related to the actual quality of your candidacy (like in-person drop-off’s), you’re losing focus on what really does make a candidate stand out.

      If you’re trying to change fields without experience, the reality is that this is very hard time to do that; it may well be impossible in this market. Here’s a good article that talks about that:

  24. Natasha D. Wade*

    Hi AAM!

    I did a Google search for “dropping off resumes” and came upon this article. I must admit, at first, I was a little perplexed by the perception that dropping off your resume in person can be a disadvantage. After all, like you mentioned, I have heard many a story about people taking a leap of faith and reaping the rewards threefold.

    After reading the article you recommended, “Are Your Skills Really Transferable?,” I have gained more clarity as it is something that I am experiencing now in my professional journey. I don’t have the exact qualifications and it’s my job to get those qualifications so I can market myself effectively. Good news is…I’m almost there!

    As someone looking to penetrate a new industry and also, as a professional who helps others in their job search, the frustration is very understandable. There’s a lot of people out there with the sheer will, fire and capability to dominate a new industry…eventually. We just all have to understand that it might take a little longer to get there and that’s quite alright. Patience is a virtue. :)

  25. daniel*

    Applying online is ridiculous. It is just another way for an employer to not dell with a well qualified person actually being proactive and searching out employment. All of you managers and those of you in HR are lazy worker who don’t want to actually take the time to do your job and find out about a potential employee who is more than likely walking in because they have heard the same lie before. Apply online and we will call you. The truth? You all are too lazy to make calls when house of us apply on line, fax, or any other way that doesn’t put us in front of you. So, with THAT being said, if you want us to stay out of your hair so you can paint your nails at your desk in peace, talk on the phone to whom ever you want to we time at work with discussing the hideous growth on your husbands or wife’s face, or gossip about other co workers to your friends on Facebook, then do your job and actually follow up on those resumes like you are supposed to. Otherwise, be prepared to have us come in with our resumes ready to take the position you want to keep one so it looks like you’re hiring when you’re not. Number one rule in business right now. Make the most amount of net profit, with the least amount of skilled labor, even if it comes down to outsourcing the whole division to Cambodia with 12 year old kids doing the work for 2 cents a day.

  26. Blanca*

    Hmm… this is one of this few occasions where I am going to disagree with you.

    I absolutely adore your blog, think you are reasonable and sensible and find all your advice valuable, but regarding this particular post… I would not say it isn’t a good idea!

    Obviously I wouldn’t present myself at Google or Facebook offices or, even worse, at PwC or KPMG offices, but after working as a Flight Attendant for several years I decided I wanted an office job with a “normal” schedule and I started looking for secretarial jobs.

    In my hometown there weren’t much and the only one I saw that fit my timetable was asking for a candidate with 3 years’ experience… and I had none!!

    In addition to this, already 100 applicants had sent their resumes through the job site (the offer had 2 or 3 days) so I had little hopes.

    As I had nothing to lose at all, I decided to go in person. It was an English School (language school, as this was all in Spain) and one of the owners was there when I entered (I didn’t know she was the owner). She didn’t interview me there but we had a 10 or 15 minute chat and I left.

    A year later I got a phone called to schedule an interview with the co-owner.

    If I hadn’t gone there, showed my interest (applying online means pressing a button, while actually going there requires more time and effort) and that I was smart, polite and proffesional, they would have never hired me!!

  27. Anonymous*

    I drop off resumes out of convenience sometimes. My field is not very technologically advanced so it is very rare I see a job posting requiring online, email, or otherwise electronic application. They all want hard copies mailed to them. I currently work in a downtown area and do a lot of walking from building to building during the day, and most of the places I have applied are right in this area. It is easier for me to just drop off a hard copy of my resume with an office receptionist rather than go to the post office, pay postage, and worry about my application getting there timely and in one piece. I’m never expecting to run into anyone and have a makeshift interview, but something about handing my resume directly to a person working in that office gives me peace of mind. I may need to rethink this after reading this article, but perhaps my field is too old school to be annoyed by something like this anyway.

  28. Anonymous*

    Every job I’m applying for asks for the resume in person. I’m in customer service so I assume they want to see a dress and hear a voice, like reviewing cattle or something. Still, if I don’t fit their company’s image, we can skip the pointless interview.

  29. Anonymous*

    Based on several of the posts, it appears that there are more than just a few “exceptions to the rule.” If you’ve already followed instructions by applying for the position as directed on the company’s / agency’s website, I see nothing wrong with doing a follow up visit (professionally dressed) or even calling unless it states otherwise. As a matter of fact, in some industries like sales and debt collections it can be to your advantage because you are demonstrating that you have the skills necessary to be successful in that field. There is nothing wrong with asking the hiring manager if they are currently available to discuss the position or if you can set up an appointment to discuss the position, but don’t expect that you will be able to. Don’t push the issue. Instead, offer your card and a hard copy of your resume. Make sure that the hiring manager knows that you respect his or her time. You can aim for assertiveness without coming off as demanding.

  30. Carl*

    Something about this idea of submitting resumes online is irritating me. As a developer, I know how people use software to search through documents; they plug in key words and the like. Unless there’s some ultra-powerful language interpretation software out there that exceeds the power of Google’s, I don’t see how anyone can find a truly qualified candidate by a keyword search.

    With that said, I’ve experienced that nobody wants to have a resume dropped off anymore. All electronic, so it’s “easy.” But this perpetuates the problem by making it too easy for candidates to apply, thus piling on more and more resumes.

    The idea to make it easier is great, but as they say, the easier any profession is — and the easier it is to make money from it — the less money there is to be made. And, when there is less money to be made, the quality usually goes down. Hence, the self-perpetuating cycle of people needing more sophisticated software to search through applications.

    I prefer people that let me drop my resume off in person. If I were a business owner or manager, that tells me the person was more dedicated than the person who made a few clicks on their computer.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t do keyword searches — I read every resume/cover letter individually — but I sure as hell require electronic submissions. Having a paper application handed to me is inconvenient and inefficient; many of us hardly use paper for anything these days.

  31. Jer*

    I have experience with this. When I was first looking for a job, I submitted my resume to everywhere online. Unfortunately, when I first started I was sending the exact same resume to everybody. Moreover, my cover letter was like a cover note.

    “I have skills *listing same skills on my resume*.

    I’m a good match for the job. I’m interested and enthusiastic for said job.”

    Something like that … short and sweet I thought. With a two page resume on top of that listing almost everything I had ever done.

    (I should note here that the 2 page resume is what my college advisor told me to do and they really didn’t stress cover letters as very important)

    I was going nuts and with each passing months; more and more desperate. This led to daily follow up calls *I had to speak to the hiring manager by any means necessary*, gimmicks, and then finally just showing up in person without an appointment.

    After all what did I have to lose? Although, I only showed up in person if I had all the qualifications the ad was asking for.

    Nothing seemed to work. Of course, why would it work? I was going about it completely the wrong way. Finally, through a friend who knew I was looking told me about an opportunity. They needed somebody really bad and at this point I had lost all faith that I would ever be hired for anything. So I followed up only once thinking, well that’s the last I would talk to those guys … imagine my surprise when they called me back and hired me.

    It wasn’t a big position but hey at least it was something. A year later, a job seeker came in with his paper resume and his sales pitch. The only problem, the boss wasn’t there to hear it!

    I had things to do and the only person that could hire him for our department wasn’t there. Plus it’s a very small department too so I tried to get him to come back on the day the hiring manager would be there but he really wanted to give his speech to us right then there.

    I had work to do and I didn’t really have the time but I notice that same desperate look in his eye, I had the year before when I was searching for a job. So I let him give me his long speech, even though as he was giving it to me, I felt …

    This is completely stupid! I can’t hire him, nor will I be able to duplicate his enthusiasm for the job as well as he’s giving me right now even if I do remember to tell my boss later.

    He left feeling happy he got to talk with someone but I felt sorry for him because I knew he just wasted his elevator pitch on me.


    never again I told myself that I would just walk into a place of business and just hand in my resume … unless of course the ad asked me to.

    Sorry this is long, but I thought I would share my experiences and background at the very least I hope it was a fun read.

    1. Kirill Nadtochiy*

      It was very helpful, thank you. Does your company not have a receptionist? If I come into a company to hand my resume in person with an elevator pitch, I would expect them to tell me if the hiring manager is unavailable. A few days ego I came into B/E Aerospace and I filed an online application prior to doing this. I was greeted by a receptionist who called the HR who came out to greet me. I had the opportunity to shake his hand and give him my resume. He talked with me for a few minutes, looked at my resume and asked me a few questions. No job offer, but he has my resume and a face to go with it.

  32. Doug*

    My career counselor via my Alma Mater’s career center just suggested this. She said “Well, nothing else is working, what do you have to lose by doing this?” Should I ask for a new counselor?

  33. A*

    What if the job posting provides a mailing address to which a hard copy of the resume is to be sent? I hate the idea of mailing my resume and even sleuthing for a fax number seems like a lot of effort for an antiquated method of getting my resume to HR.

  34. Anonymous*

    Outside of healthcare, sales, and retail, there are several fields with different practices and norms. The reality is that most mid-to-large private sector companies and governmental organizations will request an electronic submission of application materials.

    Personally, I work with students who pursue positions in fields related to human services, non-profit organizations, and small, local private sector companies. Sometimes, career resources and common career advice can be a pain because it is painted with “medium-large private sector” colors.

    Nonetheless, this “in-person” rule is no longer applicable as a general rule in the aforementioned fields. Organizations have different values, different approaches, and different levels of capacity and so it is best to learn about the organization (and field) first then to make a decision.

  35. Jesse*

    I had to reply to the initial post here and I think Ask a Manager is missing the point. You cannot convey your personality in a resume the way that you can in person, and for many their personality and presence is one of their biggest selling points! Everyone puts the same things in their resume. Everyone is passionate, and energetic, and driven, and blah blah blah. You know how I know that? Because I read through hundreds of them each month. They blur together after a while. If you apply in person and you are highly qualified then you are simply a qualified person applying in person. When non qualified people drops by my office to drop off resumes it becomes pretty apparent what their status is. Also, I recommend dropping off a hard copy in person and still submitting one electronically, just making a note on the electronic one that you dropped off a hard copy but would like to provide one electronically for their convenience. That way if they do everything electronically you’re not disqualified. It shows ambition to go the extra mile and stop by. You obviously have a lazy approach (and I sense strangely bitter) to the hiring process and are naive if you think that 90% of the other guys out there aren’t using the same creative language to describe how talented they are at doing whatever it is that they have done.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, a good resume does not include the same language as everyone else. A good resume focused on what results the person has achieved, which — if it’s a strong candidate — will be different from most other people. And no, most hiring managers do not want candidates dropping by in person, for all the reasons stated here. You’re in the minority on that.

  36. Daniel*

    I understand what you are saying about following directions, but I’m torn. While there is an option to submit online I’ve never seen any notice stating that submitting it online is the only acceptable option. I’m a engineer and for one company that I’m very interested in I’ve decided to make a cold call based on the fact that I wrote and tweaked a cover letter for each position that I was qualified for. When I went to submit my application there was only an option to submit my resume but not my cover letter. Thoughts?

      1. Daniel*

        So then what are my options? I’m pleased with my resume but I’ve addressed each requirement in my cover letters. I know the hiring manager and a senior technical recruiter are on LinkedIn. Should I contact them via email or LinkedIn?

  37. a ninny mouse*

    I tried that before and it never worked for me. Most of the people were snakry liars. They would lie about who they were and the name of the company.

  38. Parisi*

    There are two companies in particular I would love to work for. They are 40 minutes from home. I did apply online, exactly as they requested. I was rejected by both with neither one granting me a phone screen at least.

    I plan to visit both, politely drop off my resume to the receptionist, and explain that I applied online already. I won’t mention I was rejected. Then I leave, never to return unless called in.

    I feel I have nothing to lose but my time. I’ve wasted time on far less important things.

  39. JT*

    I realize that my inability to find a job makes my posting less irrelevant; but your opinion on dropping a resume off seems to be one size fits all.

    I have a Ph.D., Wall St. experience, good grades, and a stellar work performance record, but have found trouble gaining employment. Do you realize most of my job interviews have come from contacts and job fairs, and rarely from “following the protocol”?

    Showing up in person indicates someone has researched the company and taken time out of their schedule. I will be the first to admit it rubs some managers the wrong way; but I’ve talked to several peo9ple who’ve successfully found offers this way. There are thousands of applicants with perfect gpa’s, experience, and polished resumes. If I can’t stand apart from an appearance, how can I expect to be unique with an electronic avalanche of applicants who built robots at 5?

    I’ve had friends of HR tell me that they leave MIT with hundreds of stacks of resumes they don’t give a second look at. Not all managers think like you. We are all human. A clean appearance, nice dress, and a smile can take you further than a paper trail can in many a manager’s eyes.

  40. Melissa*

    I am surprised and saddened buy some of the thought processes of hiring managers or HR. I have been looking for an HR position in my area and have hand delivered my resume along with following the online directions. Some have been thoughtful enough to speak to me and some not. I can understand time management however, I cannot understand why you would not want to meet potential talent with resume in hand, observe their personalities, appearance and etiquette. I also recruit educated individuals in a particular field, provide assistance to HR and work as a Liaison between agencies (building relationships). I think what some people are missing here is the value to love people. To want to meet new people and see value in them whether they fit the position or not. It takes personality and drive to approach someone for a job especially if you do not fit the qualifications. I always keep in mind that I do not know what this person is going through. It takes about three minuets to take the resume and say thank you. When people want to speak to me I always take time!! What you give is someday what you will get.

  41. K*

    I’ve recently resigned from one job, and then I found a very nice job advertisement on linkedin. It turned out the company is based just next door. That is why I came up with the idea to go there in person (with CV and CL tailored to this company and its vacancy), hoping that my application will be spotted, unlike 300-400 others sent via linkedin. Now, I’m not really sure if that is good idea. Any advices?

    1. Kirill Nadtochiy*

      I recently graduated with a B.S in Aerospace Engineering and currently looking for work in my field. My approach has been to firstly file my application as prescribed by the company, but then also to make calls and occasionally visit in person. There are a number of reasons why I do this:

      1. Companies may have positions that they are not advertised, having the ability to know about potential positions would be recognized in my favor. If I know that a company just got a deal to be a supplier of electrified monorail systems for an automotive company that just opened a new plant, then any HR person would be doing their company a huge disservice for not taking a minute of hist/her time to listen to what I have to say.

      2. Following up in person gets me noticed and face to face with a hiring manager rather than a hiring software that can’t extrapolate true ability. Some employers in my field have already made this information available to my faculty – implemented HR software weeds out resumes if CATIA (structures analysis software) does not appear, but most of us Aero people have been learning a similar program and can learn CATIA very quickly. In addition, finding a person that knows a software is easy, but finding a person that knows the theory is tough. With CATIA you could know it like the back of your hand, but if you input garbage then you get garbage out. So I sometimes come in person and demonstrate my ability, derive a stress equation right in front of HR if I have to.

      3. To show you are a potential fit for the company environment. As unfortunate as it sounds I believe that people judge by appearance, especially HR, and unfairly so I might add. That’s why when I go to meet with HR, I wear a suit and practice my handshake (metaphorically speaking). Most HR does not know anything about engineering, they invite people for an interview based on a candidate’s resume matching a set of criteria, given to HR by other engineers. Thus, when you are invited to an interview, the questions are mostly behavioral to see if you are a good fit for the company culture, not to test your ability. This of course is not always true, in some cases HR people are also engineers and they ask you specific engineering questions. If I get the chance to answer engineering questions then it’s my time to shine.

      Entry level engineers where I live, especially aerospace engineers, struggle to find work because they are always at odds, first with the software, secondly with HR people, thirdly with economy.

      1. Only a very experienced HR person who is also an engineer in that field can recognized a great candidate for a structural analyst position from a C level aerospace structures graduate from our school. Just to give you an idea of our school standards, Aero students have the highest average SAT scores out of other engineering departments while having the lowest average GPA.

      2. Only those HR people that are familiar with our school understand our student’s abilities based on their grades.

      3. Most companies value experience. With recent cutbacks in military spending in America, plenty of experienced engineers are on the market to pursue work in civilian fields.

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