I know that "long-shot" roughly means "improbable", but I am not sure what a long-shot job is, at least in the context of searching for such a job. Is it a really odd job, a job where the appliant has very few possibilities of being hired, or something else?

  • by the way, I found the expression in the following passage of Surfaces and Essences by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander: «Advising a friend who’s applied for several long-shot jobs of which one has suddenly come through and needs an instant reply or it will be lost forever [...]»
    – mau
    May 2, 2014 at 8:44

3 Answers 3


A "long-shot" in terms of a job search is similar to any other "long-shot" attempt at something. It is a job that the speaker could apply to, but has little chance or expectation of getting. As an example, consider a generally unremarkable fresh graduate from college saying the following:

[Major multinational company] just fired their CEO and is looking for a new one. It's a long shot but I think I'll apply!

In this case the speaker is probably being humorous, but you could use this term to describe applying for a position for which you are somewhat, but not completely qualified, in the hopes of impressing the hiring manager and/or recruiter enough to get the job anyway.

Point of clarification: as @Chokkeliet mentioned, "long-shot job" sounds odd and is not necessarily a phrase that is often used, however you can describe a job as being a "long-shot"

Another expression you may sometimes hear in place of "long-shot" is "Hail Mary" which I believe is a reference to a Hail Mary pass as explained in this section.

Hope that helps

  • 2
    I got a long-shot job once. I really didn't have the proper credentials, but they were desperate for a quick hire, and no one else had applied, so they hired me. I think you've described it well.
    – J.R.
    May 1, 2014 at 21:40

From wikitionary:

long shot (plural: long shots)

(idiomatic, nautical) Something unlikely; something that has little chance of happening or working. The term arose from the accuracy of early ship guns, which were effective only at close range and unlikely to hit the mark at any great distance. We can try your plan, but it's a long shot and it probably won't work.

Though, in general, I'd consider "long-shot job" to have at least two clearly different meanings (as opposed to a job that is a long shot). The first is it means that it's a job (read: occupation) that's really hard or difficult to get. The second is it means that it's a job concerned with working on things that are hard or difficult to complete or finish.

Unless, however, a "long-shot job" is some kind of slang that I've never heard before...

  • You're right, broken is a little too brash I'll edit my answer.
    – Chokkeliet
    May 1, 2014 at 21:43
  • Thanks for the edit! I'll just re-write part of my old comment here: This reminds me of Jim Butcher, who uses longshotauthor as his Twitter profile name.
    – user230
    May 1, 2014 at 22:25

A "long shot" is a gambling term, typically used in referring to horse races.

In the U.S., wagering on horse races uses a "parimutuel" system for determining the value of a winning bet. Increased wagerng on a particular horse will cause the amounts paid to winning bettors to decrease; diminished wagering on a particular horse will cause the amounts paid to winning bettors to increase. The more a horse becomes unpopular among bettors, it becomes more of a long shot, and the odds paid on a winning ticket might increase to 20-1, or 30-1, in other words winning ticket holders might be paid $42 or $62 on a $2 wager.

Usually (but not always) the actual probability that a horse will win the race correlates with the wagering odds, due to the "wisdom of crowds." So the term "long shot" refers to an improbable event; and also to the fact that, if wagering is permitted on the outcome of the event, an increased payment is had if one bets on the improbable event and it occurs.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .