The Great Application Race

My day job used to be sifting through hundreds of CV’s on behalf of our clients ensuring their suitability for the given role. Now I spend my time managing that business so don’t often need to unless I’m recruiting myself.

LIFE FACT: CV writing is a skill, it is not innate. So as I’m sure you can imagine I have seen some things! I will do a specific article on CV writing but for now:

Don’t put anything on there that someone could use to discriminate – Yes, yes I know discrimination doesn’t happen anymore – but let’s assume that there are some people out there who unwittingly make assumptions, so:

  • No date of birth. If your email is ‘’ change it – they may assume that’s your year of birth!
  • Don’t put dates of qualifications – duh they can work out your age from when you did your CSE’s or GCSE’s!
  • Make sure your phone number is right – it happens all too frequently, equally if you can’t accept calls during work time say so on the CV. There is no harm in writing ‘please only text or email during working hours’.
  • No Mrs / Miss – your marital status is your business!
  • I don’t need to know your nationality or your skin colour – Putting “White – British” on your CV isn’t helping anything.
  • I don’t need to know you are a doting parent of 14 kids and that you have a goldfish called Bob (yes someone did have a goldfish called Bob.) Unless it’s directly relevant to the role, I don’t need to know.
  • If you write “I like reading and socialising with friends” all I hear is I read the odd newspaper and get drunk most weekends (sorry! But I do!). If you want to write about your interests make sure it’s something I will remember.
  • Lock down your social media – don’t think that employers all believe the right to a social life and personal space – they may well check you out on Facebook, do you really want your bare ass on the MD’s computer screen prior to an interview?

Anyway, I digress…

The advent of the internet has given job seekers the luxury of searching hundreds of jobs in mere milliseconds, the smart phone has allowed you to apply for a job while queueing at Marks & Sparks in theory the world of work should be your oyster. But I bet many of you feel like you are in pursuit of the impossible or even worse are on a perpetual merry-go-round of interviews and rejection emails.

LIFE FACT: The advent of these wonderful tools while giving you access to the world has also had another effect – more people are applying for jobs. Ergo the competition increases even if it’s just a numbers game jobs that used to get 30 applications can now get hundreds in the space of a few days!

Put yourself in the position of the employer. When faced when this mountain what would you do? Many will look at the first 50 (I would say grab but these things are no longer printed just available to view on the screen) problem being if you are applicant 52 your CV may never get seen.  So how do you avoid being the last one to the party?

My advice:

  • Always get someone who is good at writing to proofread your CV and generic cover letter, this means someone who will be critical, you need the honesty – Spelling mistakes can be the first thing to drop a CV out of the running, not all typo’s are easy to spot (form instead of from etc!) – F7 should be your number one go to key on the keyboard (FYI that’s the shortcut for spell check on MS Office, also make sure you are checking in UK English not American! Assuming you are in the UK of course).
  • Sign up for job alerts on ALL the main job boards (Reed, TotalJobs, CV Library etc. etc.) – Yes you will be inundated with jobs. Narrow this down by making searches and email alerts meaningful, salary should be realistic yes there should be a lower and upper limit; leaving it open will mean every job will hit your inbox.
    Make sure the location and reasonable travel distance is set up – don’t do a whole county /country search. Generally keep it to 15 miles (more if you live in London as public transport is so much easier or likewise if you live in the sticks!).
  • ALWAYS adjust your cover letter – Have a good generic that covers everything, my preference is to address any bullet points in the advert you are applying to in the cover letter – it demonstrates attention to detail and basically makes the argument for an interview!
  • Chase it up – Don’t be afraid to chase up the application a week later. One of the biggest pitfalls I’ve seen is that this new technology while allowing employers to have a greater reach can create a lot of admin to keep everyone in the loop – this includes polite rejections. A polite call to make sure they don’t need any further information reinforces your interest and (if they haven’t looked at your CV yet) may well get them to pull you up on their screen.
  • Make friends with the local agencies – Agencies can be perceived as slightly out of date and expensive way to recruit but for certain businesses they are a necessity and take a lot of the leg work out of the process for the employer. The key to making besties with the local agencies is to check in weekly by phone or face to face whichever suits, if they recognise you they are more likely to think of you first when the job order comes in – I’ve seen on many occasion someone get offered a role because they walked through the door as the order came in. Be selective, if you are a specialist in your field search out a recruiter who understands the industry – they will probably have the best links. And don’t get upset if they don’t put you forward for a role you think you are perfect for – there may be other info they are privy to but can’t divulge.

Following these steps make your job search more specific and your approach to applying more tailored. In this instance less applications of a higher quality will mean less rejections and a higher chance of getting that all important interview (and yes interviews are different matter that we will get to soon!)

So best of luck in your job search – this is about working smarter not harder!





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s