Musings of a Recruiter – the one about job boards.

Back in the dark ages, (well, 1991) when I first started in recruitment, things were of course very different. We used to handwrite our advertising submissions for the local paper and fax them over to the advertising team – jobs day was initially a Thursday and then became a Wednesday at the lovely old Bristol Evening Post. By jobs day, I mean the one day a week when there was a jobs supplement in the local paper and which used to kick start the wave of new candidates for our clients. Candidates would apply for the roles by a) posting a CV to the office b) calling us (yes, by phone!) and c) just calling in to the office to register, discuss the role, find out more. Our planning for advertising available roles was based around Wednesday or Thursday – that’s one opportunity a week to advertise the jobs.

This was of course before email and social media and before job boards existed (Total Jobs, Reed, Monster and the like).

Now, a client gives us a new brief and we have the role advertised very quickly, on all the major job boards, through social media, and on our websites. Literally, typing a few carefully crafted paragraphs and within half a dozen clicks of the mouse, the job is out there for all to see! Within a few more minutes (but always within 30) we get the first responses to that new job….and that’s where the fun and frustration begins…..

I wonder how many candidates actually read a job advertisement from start to finish, including the “how to apply” requests from the recruiter. I also wonder how many candidates have a single clue how their application looks when it arrives with the recruiter (ie what format is it in, what does the attachment look like, what is the first impression for the recruiter?) I also wonder why we get so many applications from candidates who simply do not have the skills and experience that are detailed in the job advertisement. I wonder why candidates don’t send a covering letter with their application. It confuses me when the simple instructions in the advertisement are not followed. I get perplexed by the lack of attention to detail in the submission. I wonder if candidates just apply to every single role advertised, regardless of whether they actually have any relevant skills or experience at all, and regardless whether they have just applied to that recruiter for the previous four roles advertised!

In truth, I don’t actually spend my life wondering too much about all these questions, because, having been a recruiter for 26 years, I do actually know the answers to some of them. That doesn’t mean I find any of it less challenging, or that I don’t regularly say out loud to my friends in the office “I just don’t get it, where is the relevance?” or words to that affect (and frankly, not always that politely!)

So here’s some advice for job seekers, candidates and applicants, based just on using job boards to find and then apply for roles –

Please read the whole advertisement, from start to finish, and follow the instructions given in your application, including supporting information, a covering letter – whatever is asked for by the recruiter.

Take a bit of time to think about how your application with look when it arrives. By this I mean, if you are using a job board that has a template saved about you, make sure it’s up to date. So, if you were a Butchers Assistant at Co-Op when you were at University and that’s what you put as your Job Title on when you first registered on the site, but actually now you are a Social Media Manager for a retail brand – update your profile! And if you were earning £5.75 an hour back in 2012 when you first registered on the site, but now you are looking for £25k – update your profile. When you send an application through Reed, your summary page is the first thing a recruiter sees (I’m using Reed as an example, many of the job boards use this system!).

Attach your own version of the CV, DO NOT RELY ON THE JOB BOARDS TEMPLATE VERSION! – and make sure it’s updated, relevant to that particular job! If you have used the Indeed template for creating your CV, think again! The format is dreadful, the dates are always hard to understand and it does you no favours at all in terms of your application. Your CV should be relevant and tailored for each job, not just a “one size fits all” please.

Please tailor your covering letter to the job for which you are applying, don’t just send the same one over and over again – and please get my name and company name right!

Keep a note of where you have applied and for what. I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve asked a candidate to confirm which role they are applying to (because it’s not clear in the application) and I’ve been told “I don’t know, I’ve applied to loads” – that is not acceptable! Finding is job is your responsibility, and we are here to help of course, but you need to help yourself too!

Having worked as both an in-house recruiter and as a recruitment consultant in agencies, the same comments apply to both…one of my clients for whom I work as an in-house recruiter has a really great application system by asking for very specific information to be provided when a new candidate applies. 50% of applications (and we get 20+ a week) do not provide this information. Only about 10% of those have a strong enough introduction/covering letter for us to be interested enough to take it further, because the ones who HAVE provided the information are immediately seen in a better light because they gave us what we asked for!!! As a recruitment consultant at Moxie and Mettle, we get over 300 applications a week! I’ll let you work out the maths on the number of people who don’t get through the first part of the application process!

I’m writing this genuinely hoping that some of this is useful to candidates out there, I mean that sincerely.

Some of this is not obvious if you don’t use job boards yourself to advertise roles, and I do think the publishers should do more to help people understand how their stored and saved data is being used. However, as mentioned above, ultimately you are the one looking for a job and it’s your professional reputation at stake…so be professional, find out more, be inquisitive, do your research, ask some questions, maybe even do that old fashioned thing and pick up the phone! Give yourself the best chance of getting the interview, it’s so easy to stand out from the crowd.

Hope that helps, look forward to receiving all your fantastic, perfect, relevant applications and to helping you get your next great job.

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