I’ve spent the last couple of months putting together my new External Communications and Content Team at Uniting. It’s been a long, difficult and frustrating process, I have to admit. Not made easier by the antics of some candidates. Having recently been a job seeker myself, I have a lot of sympathy, but here are a few pointers for people applying for jobs from an employer’s perspective.
Apply for jobs that are relevant to your experience.
Seems like something of a no-brainer, doesn’t it? And yet… I’ve seen a number of applications where the candidate had absolutely none of the required experience, not even vaguely in the same field. My favourite example of this was the applicant for a media advisor who felt that his work in a MacDonalds and a seafood restaurant made him the ideal candidate. I know that people are applying for jobs to be eligible for Centrelink etc, but surely it would make sense to apply for things you might actually get?
Read the job ad
If the employer has put something about required experience or educational experience, there’s probably a good reason. Read the ad and make sure you understand what the role entails, so you can clearly articulate how you fit. If there is a contact name, address the cover letter to that person. If you are applying for several jobs and using a template cover letter (and I get that you would do that) at least put some tailoring in (such as the name of the organisation) so that it’s not so obvious.
Write a decent cover letter
I hate writing cover letters, I admit, but sitting on the other side of the desk, I really see why they matter. If I’ve got 30 applications to plough through, and about 15 minutes to do it, the cover letter gives me an idea as to whether it is worth opening the resume. If you have written some general statements about being a “team player” and “having the skills and experience required”, it doesn’t help me at all and you have already created a little bit of friction with me. Respond to the key criteria, highlight important experience and give the employer a reason to look further.
Don’t make it all about you
Maybe this is a community sector thing, but applications that scream “this is why you need me” put me off. I want to see that you have understood the organisation, its purpose and values, and have put some of that into your application. Yes, I want to know why your skills and experience are a good fit, but I’m also interested in why you want to work for this organisation and what sort of contribution you will make.
None of this is rocket science, but I say it in the hope that it’ll help in some tiny way to make a difficult process (for both parties) that little bit easier.