My Headhunting Blog

Desperate for a Job? – Don’t let it show…

DesperateAs a headhunter I rarely advertise for candidates, but I’ve got a couple of jobs I’m working on that I thought I might try some job boards – you never know, I might get lucky….

These jobs were posted a week ago. They’re both good sales jobs with good companies. The pay’s pretty decent and both come with a company car. They’re both in busy areas where the skills and experience required are likely to be in abundance. I’ve used Monster, CV Library and Reed……

A week in and I have plenty of applications, but not one meets the simple criteria required. NOT ONE! And only one comes from the geographic area described (in each case spread around 4 counties – so not small). I’ve collected the CV’s together in one place, and I get the distinct aroma of desperation! These candidates are looking desperate and I’m afraid than rather than helping their cause, it’s becoming a hindrance:

  • They’re clearly seeing a job and applying more in desperation than in the realistic chance they might get an interview.
  • Where they can be bothered, most have a covering letter that is obviously cut and paste in the hope it looks personal, but they’re couched in terms that are so generic that it can’t be the case.
  • It doesn’t help that these covering letters are written to “Dear Sir” or “Hello”. My name appears in the ad quite prominently – the least they could do would insert it so it at least appears personal.
  • I have some very senior people applying for jobs that they did very successfully thirty years ago. True or not, I get the whiff of people who have given in and trying for anything.
  • They don’t live in the area to be covered, but rather than address that in advance (‘cos it would be the first question any sane recruiter would ask – if they were insane enough to waste time on making a screening call) it’s ignored and they hope can get dodge through and impress at interview (it can’t be anything else).

I know people will be finding it difficult to get a new job, and I don’t wish to just give them a hard time, but they’re not making themselves look attractive in the job market. I can imagine things at home might not be easy, so reporting “Been busy today dear. I’ve applied for 21 jobs” might give them a sense of purpose, and perhaps even relief that their significant-other-half will see them in a positive light, but I get the clear sense of people stuck on a treadmill and no way of knowing how to get off.

Here are some simple things to do:

  1. STOP IT. Take a day off and give yourself a good talking to. What do you want and are you being realistic? Break the cycle. Freshen your mind.
  2. Don’t chase everything. You’ll just get knackered and disillusioned.
  3. Define what you want. Bring some focus and WORK ON IT. Dig around. Look on new websites. Write to potential employers directly (why don’t more people do that?). Use the Advanced Job Search tool on LinkedIn (come on, you do know where that is? It’s your job to know).
  4. Personalise your approach. You can cut and paste, but then insert a name and a paragraph that’s specific to the job for which you’re applying. At least make it LOOK like you’re trying.
  5. Focus your efforts on getting the job you want. Don’t just apply so you can tell everybody down the pub on a Friday night that “I’ve applied for over a hundred jobs this week, but not got a reply from anybody. Those recruiters are a waste of time”.
  6. Do something different. Here are 6 ideas. And here are a few more. Don’t laugh. I can introduce you to people who got a job after they read those suggestions.

Some of the applicants are clearly clever and bright, but for all sorts of reasons they are also desperate and it’s showing. It’s doing nobody any favours, most of all the job hunters.

In the meantime, I need to remember that advertising roles isn’t always a good use of my time. Back to the phones, talking to people and shaking my network.


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About the Author

Martin EllisMartin is a headhunter and recruiter at Recruitment South East Ltd., who he joined in April 2014 when they bought his old company. Before that he was a senior executive with a FTSE 100 company working globally, mainly to regenerate stalled business, or those that need a little extra TLC to get them moving again. He worked all over Europe, USA, Africa and Asia, so sees the world from many perspectives.View all posts by Martin Ellis →

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