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I can totally understand it. No question. In a reasonable world, a world where the job seeker's need for a fast, easy job transition would take priority, these three facts would prevail:1. You could expect enough real jobs that match your skills and background to be posted online so that you and others like you could easily snag one of them.
2. Or, you could turn to a recruiter, a specialist in matching candidates to open positions, to find the best job for you and then smooth your path to an offer.
3. Or, that you could send your resume, scattershot, to a large number of jobs, some of which you don't qualify for very well on paper, but that you could probably do, and the recruiter - internal or external - would give you the benefit of the doubt and interview you.
Sadly, none of these three beliefs hold water in today's job search environment. And if you believe any one of these three commonly held understandings and act accordingly, you will be acting out of denial and wasting precious job search time on dead ends.
Here's the true state of affairs about conditions 1, 2, and 3:
1. There are a prohibative number of people applying for each job posted on a job boards. That means that recruiters are obliged to spend only about 6 seconds on each, or, if they use an applicant tracking system, your resume will likely never be seen by a human being. Sometimes there are so many resumes that contain the right keywords that the recruiter simple breaks off the search after finding 10 or so matching resumes. Even the keywords they search for can be designed to limit the number of resumes retrieved. These may be words or phrases that are non-obvious (and not even good for determining a good candidate match), but that allow the system to discard a large number of resumes, simplifying the recruiter's task.
2. Recruiters, what they are not: They are not your personal job placement partner who will make every effort to find a job that will match your credentials and requirements. Who they are: service providers to organizations. Recruiters, whether contingent or ratained, are compensated by those organizations. Their incentive is not to find the best person for the job, necessarily, but to find the low risk candidate - the one currently employed, holding a similar position in a similar industry with a record of steady progression and tenures of ~ 7 years maximum and 3-5 years minimum per company. Here's the thing: They are completely uninterested in whether you can do the job if you don't have exactly the right background. Completely uninterested.
3. Increasingly, the search technologies that process resumes posted on job boards or submitted via company websites are more sophisticated. They can perform Boolean searches and therefore can determine whether you've front- or back-loaded keywords that are not used in context. So it makes no sense at all to submit a resume to a job whose written job requirements don't quite closely match yours. Even if you are sure that the recruiter will receive your resume directly, s/he will be unlikely to try to massage your not-quite-matching background to the job requitements, even if you know - and maybe even the recruiter knows - that you COULD do the job given the chance. Remember the risk avoidance point made in #2.
Giving up a state of denial is not something most of us care to do. We'd much rather believe the first three things above. But, when you embark on a job search, if you are able to reject those beliefs and instead focus on more productive avenues of job search, you will come out way ahead.
I'm sorry for the harsh truths in the last 3 points. But please don't shoot the messenger! My job is to get you your next great job as quickly and cost effectively as possible. To find out about what really works in job search in 2013-2014, click below for my 6 Pillars of Job Search eGuide. Best of luck to you!