Sunday, 16 August 2009

Application Advice

I've so far managed to keep fairly quiet about my new job. This is mainly because I want to keep it.

There are, however a few things that I am unable to not pass comment on, and since the blog was originally about my quest to find employment it seems appropriate to say a little bit about it.

Well... I am responsible for overseeing a new operation for the company, and part of this has involved recruiting a number of people.
As was probably to be expected in the C.E.C, the response was astronomic. Within 10 days I had received over 250 applications and they were still flooding in.

Since the recruitment was one of the main priorities, I couldn't really do much else until I had decided on a way forward so I was able to dedicate all my time to processing the applications. Yes, all 250 of them. I read every single one and added details to this stupid spreadsheet I thought was a good idea at the time. It took an entire week.

In all honesty, the standard of candidate was very high, many applicants were educated to at least degree level. The standard of application, however, left a lot to be desired.

I did wonder how I struggled to find a job for so long when my own CV would have easily been in the upper 5 percentile of the applications I viewed.

I found out that 30 people applied for my job, and I am eternally grateful that I was the one who got chosen but it could just as easily have been someone else had my CV not been up to scratch.

To stand a chance in this climate, you need to make sure your CV gets through the initial sift. If you are up against 100 other people and yours is riddled withn spelling mistakes, it doesn't matter how perfect for the role you might be, you will probably not get shortlisted.

Next year when my role is more established and I have to run this recruitment process again, I won't have an entire week to dedicate to reading hundreds of CVs, so my shortlisting technique will be far more ruthless than it was this time round.

It's all about making sure yours doesn't end up on the cutting room floor, so I have taken the time to put together a list of Dos and Don'ts for anyone out there who would like some advice on applying for jobs.

If anyone is scoffing at my cheek for thinking I am some kind of expert after a mere 4 weeks, I should point out that I have recruited hundreds of people in the past few years so I do know a little about it...

10) Be Brief
If the qualifications or experience are relevant to the job, and they are laid out clearly, you can get away with three pages. You cannnot get away with sixteen.

9) Think about the Format
  • Print your CV out to check how it appears on paper as well as on your computer screen. It does not look good when you have a new heading at the very end of the page. Or worse still, an entirely new page for the words "References available on request".
  • Bullet points are good for highlighting key info.
  • If you are going to start underlining headings, underline all the headings. Don't suddenly start putting them in bold instead on page 2.

8) Don't forget the attachment!
If you are emailing your CV, don't forget to send it! Not everyone is as nice as me and probably won't send you a diplomatic reminder.

7) Make it relevant
If you have a CV you wrote when you were applying for a job as a receptionist, and you are now applying for a job as a waitress, you might want to consider rewriting parts. Your photocopying skills are probably not hugely important and it will just look like you couldn't be bothered to edit your CV, ergo you are not hugely bothered about the job. Bye bye.

6) Proof Read
Use the spell checker and get someone else to read it to ensure it makes sense. Spelling your own name correctly creates an especially good impression. Don't use American spellings. Unless you are American, of course.

5) Pick a Font. And STICK WITH IT.
Your name, address and postcode do not need to be in different fonts. This does not make you look creative. It makes you look MENTAL.
Don't use wacky fonts or ones that might be used at a children's play centre, unless perhaps you are applying to be a children's play worker.
Likewise, you do not need to use a font that looks vaguely like handwriting, even for your signature. You are not writing by hand, you are writing on a computer.

4) Don't be Scared to get Personal
In my opinion, the CVs that stand out the most are the ones where you can get a sense of the applicant's personality. Having a section at the end entitled "Other Interests" is a good place to do this.
One candidate wrote that he shared the same sense of humour with his sons, so he loved spending time with them.
An older candidate said she felt she had spent too long working behind a desk in an office, and wanted to get out and work face to face with people for a change. I thought, "good on her" and invited her in for an interview. She got the job.
If you have any unusual interests or hobbies, put them in, it will make people want to know more about them, and they will remember you.

(As an aside to this, the following are normally irrelevant to your application: Marital status, date of birth, number of children. Including this information puts you at risk of being discriminated against by someone who doesn't realise that it is illegal to do so.)

3) Don't be too Desperate
Make the recruiter feel like you really want to work for them, not just anybody. If it's been a while since you received your P45, do say you are available to start immediately. No matter how much you may want to, do not write "I really need a job", or "I'm looking for any job, ideally one that requires no skills or experience, as I don't have any".

2) Do Your Research
Don't address your cover letter "Dear sirs" if you've quite clearly been told the recruiter's name is Barbara, or some other obviously female name.

And at Number One, yes this really did happen...

1) Txt Spk
Unless of course you want to receive a "Thanx but no thanx" letter, lol.

I expect to hear all your success stories shortly...

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