As of last month I no longer fit into the ‘youth’ age bracket, so don’t worry Mr Osborne, I won’t go messing up your youth unemployment statistics. Nonetheless, I’m not blissfully ignorant of the difficulty of finding a job these days, at whatever age, and I’m not naive enough to think it will be easy. I’m always bowled over by those radio interviews with unemployed people, who talk of having applied for hundreds of jobs, without success.
Not wishing to diminish their efforts (I can’t stomach the thought of submitting hundreds of applications with no reward at the end) I genuinely do believe that it’s quality that matters, rather than quantity, in the job hunt. I wonder to what extent, if at all, cover letters, application forms or CVs are being tailored to the specific role being applied for, in this mass-attack approach.
Of course, I’m not in the best position to preach about job-hunting success right now, facing imminent unemployment, but I know that I spent tens of hours on my application for my current role. The application form took research; I had to track down people already working there to get the insider skinny. I drew on all of my contacts when it came to preparing for interview; someone in HR, someone who worked at a school, someone in finance. If they could offer any help at all, I took it. Preparing for interview was like studying for a final at university. Time-consuming, stressful, boring and difficult. There is absolutely no way that I would have been offered that job if it was one of ten application forms I’d completed that day.
All of this is a very long-winded way of me saying that, when it comes to job applications, I am slow. Originally I had a plan to complete three applications a day, on a day devoted to the task. In reality it’s nowhere near that many. This week I spent nearly two days on just one application. One. And, let’s not forget, there’s no guarantee of even being called back for interview, let alone of getting the job. I hope I’ll get speedier as I go along. I’m already noticing the same questions cropping up on application forms. The problematic one is “why do you want to work here?”. There’s no chance of copy and pasting there.
When I finally pressed “submit” on my first post-termination application, it was a relief. I’ll readily admit, I’d been procrastinating, scared of sitting down to the task. Scared of failure, of course. Having done an application, just one, meant that I’d got the ball rolling. Now I just have to keep going.