Recent events caused me to terminate my employment with my (now previous) employer. I am searching for technical work in my field (programming), with the understanding that if something does not materialize quickly I will need to search for a temporary job, in say food service.

I have submitted 9-10 applications which are directly in line with my career trajectory, and now I want to maximize my chances of landing an interview. My question is this: will it be perceived in a negative light if I show up at these same companies tomorrow and drop off a resume in person? My intention is to make a good impression which will hopefully catalyze interest in my application.

I know that moves like this lower your position at the negotiating table. I'm not too worried about this because I was being paid so far below market value at my previous position that even if these companies underpay me I will still be in an improved situation .

My concern is that I don't want to come off as rude. I won't linger too long, I am just planning on having a brief conversation with whoever answers the door and asking for them to pass along a physical copy of my resume.

marked as duplicate by dwizum, gnat, OldPadawan, scaaahu, DarkCygnus Jun 15 at 17:01

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Jun 17 at 22:10

10 Answers 10

Don't do this!

This is a terrible idea - It's not the 1950s any more.. unless you're looking for retail or service industry roles unscheduled walk-ins are rude, disruptive and incredibly annoying. At best you're showing yourself as someone who is completely out of touch with professional norms or a bit weird and at worst you're just going to get binned off straight away. Personally I'd go straight for a combination of the two.

If the company has an open position that you match with then they'll be wondering why the heck you didn't just apply using the normal channels and if they don't they aren't going to create one just because some random stranger walked in off the street.

Even if (and it's a very big if) you pass your resume to the receptionist and they intend to pass it on to the appropriate hiring manager it may take some time to get there (if at all - misc bits of paper get mislaid depressingly easily in many offices), or be jumbled in with various other unrelated bits. If it does make it to the hiring manager then the most context they are going to get is a "some random person dropped this in".

Then they have one random hard copy resume to integrate into the rest of the candidates who applied in the normal way - which is most likely electronic and that's generally an irritation. A small one to be sure but do you really want any feelings of irritation associated with your application, no matter how small?

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    In addition, there is a risk the resume will get lost between being handed to the receptionist (the only person you can count on seeing without an appointment) and getting into the normal channels. – Patricia Shanahan Jun 14 at 6:40
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    @insidein startups..*maybe* although I still think the risks outweigh the rewards. Microsoft? Not a chance.. you'd never make it past the receptionist and they would just tell you to go apply through the normal channels and send you on your way. – motosubatsu Jun 14 at 6:56
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    They also may just not appreciate receiving a paper resume for a variety of reasons, especially in the software industry. – Dukeling Jun 14 at 8:28
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    One further thought on this great answer. Companies have established recruiting channels. They've put effort into them and rely on them for hiring. Unless you have an inside connection (per @Leon's comment), it's almost always best to just rely on the already-established channels - going outside those in just about any other way will usually result in the negatives motosubatsu listed. – dwizum Jun 14 at 11:40
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    This might be the right answer where you live, but where I live one of the acceptable means of gaining employment was to walk in the door and hand them a resume. Just because some of us are behind the times doesn't make that practice unacceptable. – SiXandSeven8ths Jun 14 at 19:03

Taken from Joel Spolsky, co-founder of and CEO at Stack Overflow; who wrote on his blog:

Study the directions that are given for how to apply. They are there for a reason. For example our website instructs you to send a résumé to jobs@fogcreek.com. This goes into an email folder which we go through to find good candidates. If you think for some reason that your résumé will get more attention if you print it out and send it through the mail, that you’ll “stand out” somehow, disabuse yourself of that notion. Paper résumés can’t get into the email folder we’re using to keep track of applicants unless we scan them in, and, you know what? The scanner is right next to the shredder in my office and the shredder is easier to use.

[Emphasis mine]

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    "the shredder is easier to use", simply glorious... – MonkeyZeus Jun 14 at 13:29
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    Speaking of shredders/scanners... – CactusCake Jun 14 at 16:25
  • Yeah, that's great and all for Stack Overflow, but for a lot of employers where I live, they still handle paper and its still acceptable. Laziness seems to be the excuse for not wanting to take the time to review a resume that a candidate dropped off in person. – SiXandSeven8ths Jun 14 at 19:05
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    If your system assumes that applications are made electronically and all information has come through the same channel, it's unfairness to allow people to decide they don't have to go through that same process. Especially if there is more work to do and more documents to provide. Are you going to call this random person and ask them to also drop off a copy of their passport, their degree, their "why I want to work here" letter? – Nij Jun 14 at 19:16
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    @SiXandSeven8ths, if that's the way they want to take in job applications, then that's fine. The key is follow instructions. Yeah, I'm lazy, I have 100 things to do today and enough time to get to about 10 of them. I simply don't have time to give consideration to someone that can't follow directions. – Seth R Jun 14 at 19:38

A better tactic is to attend events where the people in your industry gather for training and networking. Even better if you volunteer to help the organizers of the event. Best is if you volunteer to be a speaker. Then make it a habit of talking to people while there. You will meet people who might work in the specific area you are working in and generally once they find this out, they will want your resume (and likely ask you to apply through their automated system these days.)

For what it's worth, I managed to get interviews right away on two occasions, with 1 CEO and 1 CTO simply by showing up unannounced, 1 hour before the official opening of their small companies.

That way, the probability of meeting a secretary telling me to apply via conventional means was low and the probability of meeting a manager was high.

If you want to try it, you have to look confident, motivated and be prepared to waste an hour standing in front of an empty building. If you see someone coming, smile and politely ask them if they have 5 minutes to spare while drinking coffee. Have your pitch and resume ready.

So no, it's not always a bad idea but it's also a long shot and probably won't work with larger companies. To increase the chances of success, you might want to test it with a company which isn't very high on your wish list first.

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    I show up early in part to get things done before the inevitable business of people coming in with problems and other interruptions. I would be very displeased if you tried to weasel your way to a interview by accosting me as I was entering the building. I'd probably think to myself what an asshole and he must really suck if he has to resort to this to get a job, and then immediately reject you if you did ever manage to apply thru the proper and less annoying process. – Olin Lathrop Jun 14 at 18:39
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    @OlinLathrop: Sure, that's one probable outcome. It's a fine line between being a motivated go-getter or a rude intruder. A few people told me I shouldn't be here or that they didn't have time, the two managers above were pleasantly surprised by my creativity. You say that you come in early to avoid problems, and the motivated person showing up very early could also be a solution if you're hiring. – Eric Duminil Jun 14 at 18:50
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    I guess showing in person can work especially if you have special motivation to work for the company and tell it in a compelling way. e.g. if you show up at some open source company and tell them that you always wanted to work for them because of their values and their service to community. Also in a large company, if the in-person visit fails, you can always apply in another way and have a good chance for nobody to remember the screw up. – akostadinov Jun 14 at 20:06

Doing things that make your application stand out are good as long as they aren’t disruptive. Showing up and talking to people who aren’t expecting you is disruptive. It might be ok if there’s someone whose job it is to receive people (a receptionist), but it doesn’t really make you stand out.

Here’re a couple of things you can do to maximize your visibility without disrupting people:

  • Find out who the hiring manager is and have your packet delivered directly to that person in a mildly unusual way. Focus on unusual, not disruptive. No singing delivery clowns. I have had success using Priority Express to deliver my application.
  • Go to trade events and meet ups where company people you want to meet are. It’s perfectly acceptable to introduce yourself as a job seeker at such an event.

A lot of companies have job requisitions open for jobs they aren’t currently hiring for. So accept that sometimes you won’t get a call back no matter what.

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    The packet delivery thing can work in smaller organisations in industries where creativity and initiative are important - for example, in advertising, PR or design agencies. But these are the exception, not the norm. Probably not a good idea for programmers unless you're sure the company has this kind of culture. Getting to know people at trade events etc can work extremely well but is really difficult unless there's something memorable about you ("Did you know I worked on [famous thing]?") or you're a natural schmoozer. – user568458 Jun 14 at 16:58
  • Creativity and initiative aren’t important in other industries? – kojiro Jun 15 at 10:47
  • Those are just examples of industries where it's more likely to work. It can work in any industry where a company has that kind of culture (e.g. some startups in most industries). I guess a clearer way of phrasing it would be "in organisations that are positive about show-boating or attention-seeking creativity or initiative - for example, in advertising..." – user568458 Jun 15 at 11:17
  • Ok. Your original comment seems to warn people away from either method. Do you think these ideas are harmful or just ineffective? – kojiro Jun 15 at 11:24
  • Neither, they both can be very effective, they're just also both very difficult to get right. The sending-a-package one could be harmful if it's a larger, more conservative organisation with rigid procedures, but could be effective for, say, some startups, or organisations that want that type of person. – user568458 Jun 15 at 12:24

In a larger company, you will little chance to ever meet anyone remotely responsible or interested by just showing up. Larger companies have typically security and badges, and won't just let you walk into the buildings. The security guards potentially have no idea who you would want to talk to, and are not allowed to give out names, so unless you have a specific contact name in HR, and that person is reachable, available, and willing to walk to the entrance for you, you will get nowhere.

In addition, larger companies have larger numbers of open positions, and don't just mail the stack of all resumes to each manager to pick from. You would need to apply for specific jobs, and those lists are on the internet, and not at the security guard shack.

Of course, smaller companies might work better.

As motosubatsu said, Don't Do This! I have additional reasons for saying this, though.

I have submitted 9-10 applications ... will it be perceived in a negative light if I show up at these same companies tomorrow and drop off a resume in person?

You state that you've already applied at these places, so why would applying again help? It's simple, it won't. In fact, it will most likely kick both of your applications/resumes into the "round file" faster.

If they see 2 copies of your resume, they'll most likely get rid of them both as a penalty for wasting their time with redundancy. They have potentially hundreds of applicants for this one job, so they aren't going to waste their time on someone who is actively trying to make more work for them.

You don't mention if you applied directly the first time, but if you applied via a 3rd party recruiter, you will definitely get kicked out of the running. They don't want the possibility of the {recruiter, temp agency, other people finder company} hearing that they hired someone directly who was also offered through the service. That's a lawsuit waiting to happen, as it would probably be breach of contract. At best, the recruiter will refuse to work with them in the future, and they may let other recruiters in their sphere know about the situation, too.

Also, even if you don't get hired, that recruiter will likely hear about you re-submitting your application directly and then not work with you.

Recruiters get paid by finding workers for companies. If they do work to find a company for someone, or vice versa, and then they don't get paid for it, they get mad, and for good reason. If they do this too often, they go out of business, so they are going to fight this pretty much every time.

From my own experience in Iowa, USA, looking for either a computer tech or computer programmer position: My parent's used to ask me why I wasn't out handing my resume to every company in the area. Well, for years, I was. That quickly ceased as more and more companies pointed me to a website or the 1 recruiter company they used who had their own website. Even if I offered the resume right then, they would usually not take it.

That was almost 15 years ago. Almost no one takes a paper resume anymore. I even tried putting my resume and portfolio on a business card sized CD to make it "stand out", and no one ever looked at it.

Use the sites and other online resources companies offer, as that's the only way they expect to find people, unless they know someone personally who will fit the role. Trade shows are good for networking, but they aren't looking for employees, they are looking for customers.

A hiring fair is a completely different animal. You'll likely see long lines of people at every booth, a variety of styles of resumes, and you might get 1-5 min for an elevator pitch. Unless you had an absolutely stellar pitch and really connected with the person, they'll forget you before they talk to 2 more applicants. Paper resumes may work here, but the presentation/elevator pitch is the key to getting remembered and staying out of the shredder.

Job hunting is a pain, no matter how you slice it, and there are more ways to kill your chances than to help. As someone who struggled to find steady work that didn't disappear for economic/"no more work"/"company shutting down" reasons for over 15 years, I sincerely wish you good luck!

The last 20-30 years or so has seen an extreme increase in amount of middle-men in filtering of recruitment and employment decisions.

  1. By doing as you ask... what it would look like is that you would basically try to sneak in between.

  2. Those people and companies won't like that, because that threatens their livelihood.

  3. Also the people deciding how the filtering works won't like that, because you threaten their filtering power. Deciding who gets to be employed where is a very big social power indeed.

I'm also a programmer, and I've successfully gotten three new jobs within the past 5 years so I'm fairly familiar with the general hiring practices within the field. One of the keys to remember is that each step only leads to the next. Your resume won't never get you hired, but it might get you the interview that will. Being proactive and showing up in person without an invitation might seem like a way to get noticed, but it will mostly seem like you're willing to waste their time. Instead, continue applying to more places - don't let off the gas until you've got an offer in hand that you want to accept.

I recommend applying to each and every job where the technical requirements overlap with your experience and the amount of experience they're looking for is within 50% of your own (so if you've been working for 4 years, applying somewhere that wants 6-10 years experience is fine). The key is that most of the jobs that are available are not posted, so frequently you'll get "well, we don't know if you're right for this position, but we've got another position that you'd be a good fit for". This is especially true for recruiters, who want to build up a large base of candidates so they don't mind entering you into their system even if they don't actively have a position available.

  • "Your resume won't never get you hired" You're a programmer who uses double negatives? – Acccumulation Jun 14 at 18:24
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    @Acccumulation, in ruby usage of !!something is not unseen :) But perhaps ruby is not an exemplary language. Now I remember seeing not not something in ansible where a boolean is needed. – akostadinov Jun 14 at 20:11
  • @Acccumulation it occurs in many languages other than English. And not only programming ones :) – mathreadler Jul 8 at 7:33

In Europe it used to be a good idea to show up with a CV in hard at your target company as it showed personal initiative which would give you an edge compared to those resorting to standard electronic delivery.

Now both the personal delivery and the standard electronic delivery (email, Facebook etc.) is a bad idea due to GDPR. A CV/resume will contain personal information, quite often also sensitive personal information, and that now has to be handled with extra care. Managing CVs in piles on a desk or as emails in a mailbox will be impossible to do in a compliant manner so that's now out. What remains are dedicated CV management systems with fine-grained access controls and the ability to securely delete everything related to a person when necessary.

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    Having a few friends working for EDPS, they seem to be surprised to all the things people blame on GDPR while all it basically does is enforce existing good practices. I am not saying that its a good or a bad idea, cause I'havent got a clue... But, honestly, for most companies with sensible practices, GDPR should not even change anything. – nick Jun 15 at 8:38

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