why am I getting calls about jobs outside my field of interest?

A reader writes:

I am currently looking for jobs online and have posted my resume on several job sites. I have received messages from potential employers regarding jobs for sales positions, but my resume states that I am currently looking for work in the clerical/administrative field. Why would a potential employer contact me for a position that I am clearly not interested in? Do I return those calls to these employers and politely decline, or do I leave these messages unanswered? 

Why do they contact you? Because they are lazy and possibly incompetent.

Seriously, I’m not just being snide here. They’re not looking for sales professionals — they’re looking for warm bodies.

Do you need to return the calls in order to decline? It’s your call — you might find yourself having to fight off a sales pitch, or you might make a contact that could eventually prove useful, although I’m skeptical that they’re a particularly attractive employer.

Anyone want to argue this one differently?

{ 12 comments… read them below }

  1. Kelly Smith*

    I ran into this on earlier this week. They had not "read" my resume because there was less than a 10% match. They were looking for Help Desk roles. Earlier in the year I argued with a person over the job description – I could read it they could not. My feeling was that they flooded the client with candidates hoping that one would stick.

  2. TheLabRat*

    I'm also mostly looking for admin and clerical jobs and there are a LOT of scam jobs out there that are calling me for sales jobs. These range in scam level from 'provides a legit service to customers but runs their sales team like a pyramid scheme" (American Life Insurance) to "we scam everyone including customers and employees (Maximum Security Alarm Systems in California)" At best you get a week's paycheck out of one of these places before you fail to meet their (really aggressive) quota and get fired. You decide if that's worth it to you.

    I don't bother calling any of them back. But one thing you can do to at least verify that the companies aren't scams (and therefore decide if you should call them back to decline in the hopes that some decent networking may arise from the offer) is google the company name with the word scam after it (add job if you don't turn up anything on the first search). Read every applicable hit you come across; you can gauge the scam level by how the complaints are written.

    Because of the frequent and unwanted calls I've been receiving from the American Life people, I've also taken to googling the telephone numbers they leave behind (both the caller ID and the line they offer via message for callback) along with the name of the person who called.

    On the upside, I now know that American Life is a scam in terms of how it treats it's sales people, at least I know who to boycott as a customer.

  3. Anonymous*

    I had my resume up on dice while looking for programming positions over a year ago. I still occasionally get e-mails for short term positions on the opposite coast requiring an immediate start and skills I don't have. I always assumed there was a quota they had to meet.

  4. Sabrina*

    I never ever respond to those. And in fact in over 4 years of looking for a job only once have I been contacted through a job board for a job that was legitimate. I no longer have my resume as searchable. It's not worth it to me to get spammed all the time. And I agree often these are scam jobs or ones that are backed by legit companies and are still pyramid schemes. Hello Primerica! You don't have to respond. I still get phone calls from them, I don't return them or if I make the mistake of answering the phone I politely decline.

  5. Chuck*

    OTOH, many people are now in jobs/careers that they would not have even considered had not someone presented them with the opportunity.

    Nearly everyone is working in a job that is not 100% related to their college major. Ergo, people do take jobs (and are VERY successful) in professions that may not initially look like a match.

    Yes, there are fraudulent con artists out there. But there are other legitimate opportunities that deserve consideration.

  6. Taria Shadow*

    I've never had a company contact me from my posted resume that was a job I actually wanted. The sales companies that use this tactic have such high turnover that they are just looking for warm bodies (as AskAManager said), or scams (as multiple people had said). I also run employment ads for my current (non-sales) company, and we never search for resumes – we place an ad and see who submits resumes. Most of the time, it's not worth responding to these "sales position" queries.

  7. Anonymous*

    Alison, maybe your strategy is appropriate for small companies, less desirable or hard to fill jobs, but when I get more than 200 applicants that meet my qualifications with a short job posting I find more rock stars than I can handle. I say it's misleading to keep a job posting up and drags the process out when you don't cut the flood of resumes off.

  8. Ask a Manager*

    Absolutely, cut it off if you know you're not going to consider anyone else; you don't want to be misleading or cause applicants to waste their time. I'm just a fan of maximizing my chances to get the best candidates possible. (But I agree, if it's a low-level, low-skill job, you may get exactly what you need in just a week.)

  9. Anonymous*

    In a different economy, I got legitimate contacts from people hiring in my field through a profile on a targeted job site used only for hiring in my field (k-12 education). Generally, these were for jobs in less desirable parts of my state such as extremely rural ranch country, although one suburban district clearly was trying to fill some kind of unusually large interview quota in the middle of summer.

    In this economy, I've had a searchable resume on that site for over a year and no contacts. Even the rural ranch areas are getting enough applicants these days by posting job notices.

    Employers are generally not having a hard time getting enough applicants when they post a job unless there's something very wrong with it, so why would they do the extra work of calling someone who wasn't even interested enough to apply when they have a big stack of resumes from people that were? On the other hand, "employers" that are actually scams continue to need a giant pool of new people and may not be able to get enough of them by posting the same ad every week. After all, if they don't intend to actually pay you, they have pretty much no reason not to hire as many as possible.

  10. Anonymous*

    It's spam. The reasons for receiving these contacts are no different than the reason we receive requests for help from nigerian businessmen. Just ignore them.

  11. Jobs*

    Choose the job sites you use very carefully! Not every site is a legitimate job site, or a good site.

  12. The Serial Candidate*

    I have to counter AAM’s initial response… A number of candidate search systems down here in Australia tend to work on a fairly loose search algorthm, often pulling up a resulting hit on a document even on a singular mention of a keyword or phrase.

    For example, a keyword search on “Python” would still pull up your CV if you had mentioned it once within it, for example.

    Unfortunately most of these keyword search systems have not been updated well enough to consider word boundaries and so some issues can occur. Your CV would light up like a Christmas tree if you, like me, were a web developer, and you had “JavaScript” throughout your CV, and the search was for “Java”.

    Point of the matter is, the search criteria is somewhat lazy, and as a result, the recruiter can in turn be just as lazy with not sifting through the results. This may never happen due to the possible enormity of results generated, as a result the emails from these CVs get shunted to a mailing list and sent through with an email relating to a role that is more than likely unsuited for you.

    Until recruiters become more selective about their search criteria, or until candidate database searches can be made tighter, and also focus on the relevance of such hits within a CV, then these types of emails will just keep on coming.

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