Toxic Custard newsletter Working life

Advice for job applicants

I’ve been really busy this week, and haven’t had time to prepare another blog post, so here’s some borrowed content for you.

This is from a good friend. She works for a company I won’t name, and is in a position where she does a bit of hiring — or at least, filtering through the CVs that arrive in response to job ads.

Dear Applicant, I’d like to interview you, really I would. You are interested in the role; you have invested time in applying, maybe you are visualising yourself working with us, chatted to your friends about it. I’ve looked through your CV, I can see your background and qualifications, I can see why you think it might work out. I’m sure you could make a contribution. But I have a pile of CVs here and I have to cut them down.

So here’s why I won’t be inviting you for interview.

Maybe it’s no covering letter. Has someone told you a covering letter is old fashioned? Have you applied for lots of jobs lately and can’t be bothered? But your covering letter is a chance for me to see how you put a piece of content together, as well as how your experience fits.

Please don’t give me a CV that says your objective is to gain a role in journalism, or event management, or PR, or editorial, when you are applying for a role in Marketing. It makes me think you don’t want this job. I work for a great company, we’re doing exciting things and I want someone working for me who is thrilled to be here.

Please don’t tell me you have a keen eye for detail. This is a very risky sentence to write – it pretty much guarantees a typo in that exact sentence. Instead, demonstrate your keen eye for detail. Give me a CV with no errors at all. Get someone ruthless to go through it and spot everything. WordPress is not Wordpress or Word Press. My company name only has one A in it!

Don’t list your mother as your referee.

Don’t list what you’ve been endorsed for on LinkedIn, it’s bogus. My friends keep endorsing me for stuff I know nothing about (thanks friends!)

Don’t explain in the covering letter how the job is really below you but you will accept it as long as the salary is OK.

LastPass is not a software platform that makes me want to hire you. Just give me the software you can actually use and that might be useful.

If it’s your secondary school results, or more than 10 years ago, I don’t need the detail.

So here’s what I’d like you to do. Tell me what you can do for me. You’ve got my detailed job ad and position description – give me a couple of sentences talking specifically to that. Have you got the skills and attitude I need, have you picked up the main points in the job ad, have you had a quick look at the company website.

Oh, and you’ll never guess what I do with the applications that begin “Dear Sir”😃.

(Reproduced by permission)

  • Footnote: by default it’s impossible to spell WordPress with a capital W but no capital P when publishing in WordPress. Turns out WP automatically corrects it. There’s a plugin or fool the software to override this behaviour.
  • I don’t normally accept blog posts from other people. I certainly don’t accept them from the astounding number of marketing types that write to me offering me blog posts on topics I have no interest in.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

4 replies on “Advice for job applicants”

I have applied for over 100 jobs this year and it is getting harder.

I lot of the roles I seem to get I don’t even interview for I just get told to turn up and meet someone to start work.

I do try to use actual examples of work I have carried out in filling in key selection criteria. It is difficult as I get offered the same roles all the time.

I have been ill most of the year and do not need to look for full time work until next year, but am finding it even harder to find part time work I can do at home.

I want to know how long rejected resumes are kept for. After being rejected, can I remove a degree from my resume and apply in the same firm again after 2 months?

Will they compare my rejected/previous resume with my latest one?

@Tim, wow, 100 this year. Keep at it – something will come up.

@Jacob, I suspect some people will spot it if the same applicant comes up again. It certainly wouldn’t pay to be loose with the truth on your qualifications.

Dear Sir,
Why shouldn’t I list my mother as a referee? She would endorse me for having a good I for detail if she had a LinkedIn account!
Yours sincerely,

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