Stand out and tailor your job application

Receiving an offer for one of my candidates as the first call of the day isn’t a bad way to start the week.  So, you may think that’s my job done for that particular vacancy.

Well, let me tell you! Let’s not forget the guidance through the tricky resignation process. The anxious notice period you spend deflecting any counter-offers via clandestine lunch meetings. The reference and qualification checks and the tense start check call. I also have to update more than 400 applicants who responded to the vacancy.

This led me to think about those people. That is a lot of people. A lot of lives in which I have played a very small part. Some lives I may change, although only one for the better!  But what made this candidate stand out from the crowd?  What did they have over all the others?

Three words… a Tailored Relevant Application!

In today’s world of online job boards and social networks, there are so many places to go to and view current opportunities. But I’ll tell you a secret, other people can see them too. Reviewing each application to create an initial long list and then whittling it down to a shortlist for presentation to the client takes time. However, the initial decision as to whether an application makes it to ‘stage two’ takes about 10 seconds!

If certain criteria are not met, for example, a required qualification being a pre-requisite, specific software experience stated as required, or relevant industry experience listed as essential, you’ll find very quickly that your application has found its way into the ‘no’ folder. If the cover statement mentions the vacancy that you previously applied to then that’s a sure sign that there’s not a whole lot of care being taken in this application.

Your location should also be considered. For example, If the vacancy is based in Southampton and you live in Ipswich. You should alleviate the concern of the recruiter or hiring manager that the job location is not an issue to you for whatever reason. Think about a tailored, relevant application.

For this particular vacancy, 7 CVs were sent to the client, all of which were granted an interview. This equates to just over 1.5% of the applications having the right mixture of experience, qualifications, systems experience, and other requirements. Of course, there will be an element of flexibility but take note of what seems to be essential criteria for a successful application.

I hope the message is clear.

  • Take time with your applications tailoring the CV or covering letter to each specific vacancy
  • Ensure that you highlight essential or desired criteria either in the CV/cover letter, not forgetting the required behaviours and competencies
  • Only apply to jobs that you’re suited to

Follow these simple rules and you’ll have a much better chance of standing out from the crowd.  I’ve got to go now and tell 453 candidates that they were unsuccessful in their applications!

David Waddell is Managing Director at Harvey John.

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