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How To Apply For a Job When the Market is F*cked

By October 16, 2020One Comment

Today, the obvious blog topic would be about the impending election. However, I realised this morning that I had no appetite for writing such a piece. Perhaps it’s the God-awful televised debates. Or maybe the number of old, white, unemployed men on LinkedIn telling me to vote for that rat David Seymour. Or maybe I’m just over debating the moral nuances of smoking a doobie or guilt-tripping your nan into topping herself. Regardless, this is (almost) the last you’ll hear about politics from me today.

Instead, I want to explore the shifting sands of the physical action of applying for a job. Not writing a CV, not interviewing. No, I mean that moment when you’ve seen something you can do and you want to register your interest. That moment when you hit “apply”. Since old mate in Wuhan decide to create bat pâté (bâté??), the world of employment has been turned on its head. Many disciplines have changed from being candidate poor to candidate Scroodge McDuck rich. Recruitment has changed from scouring LinkedIn for someone with a unique skill set and then telling them lies to get them to interview, to fending off the hordes of Xerxes as your inbox is pushed to its limit by every tinker, tailor, and candlestick-maker applying to your BDM role. This shifting of the poles has been a boon for some. If you’re a career coach, a CV writer, or anyone who can promise to help a candidate cut through the noise, then you’re currently quids-in. These are desperate times, and understandably desperate people will pay good money for any advantage in the clamour for what few jobs are out there. This, and a recent interview with a candidate got me thinking.

Meeting with an internal recruitment candidate this week, she asked me; “How should I apply for a job? I mean, should i just apply via SEEK? Or is better to send them an email?”

I went to give my typical answer, however Covid has created a new set of rules. And here’s where I think things are changing. Once upon a time in the west, I would have advised sending an email. This is recruiters recruiting recruiters don’t forget. I always felt that a polite, professional, but ever-so-slightly cheeky email is how two quality recruiters who “knew the score” would communicate. This would trump an ad response from the hoi polloi. For my own ads, I always felt it strange when someone I knew- maybe some one I’ve placed, or even someone I’ve shared beers with recently- would just apply to an ad. Surely, they’d drop me the old “what’s this role all about then?” LinkedIn message? Applying to an ad that someone you know has posted felt a bit like your best mate asking before taking a beer out your fridge. Or perhaps your partner asking if you want to go the inlaws on Sunday. Yes, it’s polite, but also superfluous and overly-formal. From a practical perspective, the first screen of a CV might not even be done by the hiring manager, so why risk being left on the cutting room floor by a misclick on Snaphire?

But now things are different.

For the first time in my recruitment career, my life has been made easier by people simply clicking “apply” at the bottom of my ad. No cheeky email. No LinkedIn message. No text. No WhatsApp. No call. And here’s the brutal truth why. May God have mercy on my soul.

I get so many ad responses that in order for me to have the time to review all CVs (including yours), they need to be automatically uploaded onto my Applicant Tracking System, where I can reject or advance you with one click.

No feedback. No chat about the state of the market. No telling you who the client is before we continue. A simple click. And trust me, I don’t like it anymore than you. However, if I act like the recruiter of last year in my current market, I quite simply wouldn’t find anyone a job. And then no one wins. I know this is far from ideal in terms of candidate care, but these are far from ideal times.

So back to the insightful question posed to me. My opinion on applying for a role is as follows:

  • If you see a role advertised that you are qualified to do, and are interested in exploring, send your CV as instructed by the ad.
  • If you see a role advertised that you are qualified to do, and you know the hiring manager, send your CV as instructed by the ad. Then send a short, polite email to the hiring manager highlighting your interest, telling them that you’ve applied, but not requesting they respond to your email.
  • If you see a role advertised that you are absolutely convinced that you’re absolutely qualified to do and it is absolutely the job you want, send your CV as instructed by the ad. Then, send a short email to the hiring manager (if you really must) expressing your interest with a link to your LinkedIn profile (which will be entirely appropriate to the role), again, not requesting a response to your email.
  • If you see a role advertised that you’re not qualified to do at all, how-about-maybe just not applying?

As always, keen to get your thoughts in the comments below. And please, go out and vote. It doesn’t matter who for. Just not ACT.


One Comment

  • Janet Winter says:

    It is a very tough market, at the moment, you are unable to change careers & unless you tick all the boxes, you are not likely to get Interviews.
    Interesting from my experience in the job search, no employers want to train staff either, to learn new ERP systems, or upskill