Should You Apply Online or In Person?

Last Updated Jun 8, 2011 10:11 AM EDT

Dear Evil HR Lady,
Would it be beneficial to go personally and hand in my resume to nearby companies rather than submit it online?
My question for you is to whom would you be handing your resume?

The person at the front desk, that's who. Now in a small company this person might be someone who has some input into who is hired. (Although keep in mind, if you are a jerk to the person at the front desk, that person's input will be taken seriously, even if she is a part time temp making minimum wage.) But at a large company, this person will say, "Thank you," and stuff it in an inter-office envelope marked "Staffing" and send it off.

Then the envelope will be opened by an admin in staffing. If you've written the name of the position you're applying for in your cover letter, she'll get around to tracking down the person who is recruiting for that job sometime--it won't be a priority. If you haven't, it will most likely get thrown into a pile and scanned into the resume tracking system. In other words, it is slow.

Now, on the other hand, if you apply through the company's website, your resume is far more likely to be immediately directed to the right recruiter. Or at least, it will be an electronic copy with no chance of scanning errors making your resume unsearchable.

So, where's the advantage to hand carrying a resume in?

Now, this is if you don't know the people involved. If you are using your fabulous networking skills, you'll be emailing your resume directly to the right person. Note that I said emailing, not stopping by their offices. Why? Because it's rude to drop by unannounced. You take up the person's time and interrupt the current task. This does not endear you to a person.

Now, if it is a small business than there may be more of an advantage to hand carrying in a resume. The person at the front desk may be the person you need to speak to. However, the cautions about taking up someone's time still apply. If you are responding to an ad, apply in the way they suggest. Most will tell you to email your resume. If the ad states this and you don't do it, you've just shown that you don't like to follow simple instructions. While this is a plus for some people, it's not for most and you should do so at your own risk.

The basic rule of applications is to follow the instructions on the job posting. People appreciate it.

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