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A Job in Two Clicks

How to apply for a job, it's not as easy as you think

Applying for a job has never been easier, a couple of clicks of the mouse and you can send your application off to as many jobs as you like. You don’t need to sit down with a cup of coffee to go through the application process, it can all be done in the time it takes the kettle to boil. Simple and easy….or is it?

This ease with which computers, email and websites allow candidates to apply for jobs is proving to be the downfall for many applicants in the current market. When I started in recruitment 15 years ago we would receive a number of hand written application letters with CV’s attached. Of these hand written applications, the vast majority were very well presented and some even a bit querky – one colleague was sent a slice of cake and a sachet of coffee with the line – “have a coffee and cake on me whilst you read my application”.

Why am I mentioning hand written letters now, in this technological age? The reason is these applicants had taken time to go through their application process, the candidate had made an effort to make their application specific to the role they were applying for. Most of the handwritten applications were from people who were reasonably closely suited to the role and actually got interviews for the jobs.

There seems to be a real lack of thought from applicants in the market at the current time, which is surprising as now, more than ever, applicants need to be trying to stand out from the crowd. With employers receiving over 200 applicants for roles, as a candidate you need to be standing out from everyone else. The two clicks approach to applying for a job is resulting in many candidates falling short of the mark and not getting an interview as they are not standing out from the crowd.

Whilst I am not saying applicants should go back to applying for jobs with hard copies of CV’s and hand written covering letters, I am saying that the effort required todo that antiquated process is still required today. Candidates must take time to draft a covering letter/email which they submit with their CV, this must be relevant to the job (not a standard letter) and highlight the candidates skills in relation to the job.

By not taking this time and effort, candidates are wasting everyone’s time and increasing their own anxiety and frustration at not finding their next role. The stories I hear from some of my career coaching clients when they first come to see me is that they have made lots of applications and are very depressed at receiving lots of rejections (and in many cases not hearing anything at all). When we review their application process I usually find that they are firing their CV out to any role that sounds vaguely like something they would like to do, have no covering letter stating why they are skilled at the role and in more than one clients case the covering ‘note’ (I can’t call 6 lines of text a letter) was in each case addressed to Mr J. Johnson – the client had not even bothered to change the addressee on their standard letter…….and applicants wonder why they don’t even get a response to their applications and the response they get is a rejection.

Rejection is hard for anyone, but by making large numbers of applications that aren’t thought out or approached in the right way will result in more rejection. More rejection leads to more frustration and desperation which in turn can lead to a view that “I must apply for more jobs” and so the cycle continues.

Part of the solution is to look at the approach you as a candidate is taking through the application process. With a strong, relevant covering letter that is addressed correctly and a well structured CV you will be ahead of probably 50% of the other applicants applying for the role and although this doesn’t guarantee you will get the job, I would say that’s a pretty good start.