Despite the odd sneer from younger relatives, I’m not a complete dinosaur when it comes to the digital age – I have a modern mobile phone, fast broadband at home, an HDTV and a hot pink digital radio! I’ve also emailed friends, used Facebook and Skype, tried online dating and I’ve put my profile on Linked In. But I’ve never played computer games, never tweeted and I’m not really up to speed with the latest buzzwords or trends. So I do get it (sort of) and I genuinely think this new digital world makes life easier in so many ways.
In one area however it has proved to be much harder and, if the press coverage is to be believed, the situation I was in earlier this year will soon be familiar to thousands of others: looking for a job. At first I thought the internet would make finding a job a whole lot quicker. I could search for full time or part time jobs, jobs in a geographical area, in a field of expertise or at a specific salary level or I could find websites dedicated to the sort of roles I was looking for. Obviously I had to do some work too – craft my CV for different roles, come up with interesting cover letters and do lots of preparation for any interviews – that’s all standard stuff when applying for jobs. But what I hadn’t anticipated was the complete and utter anonymity of it all. If memory serves, recruitment agencies pre-internet would usually interview you and get to know you because that was how they built up candidate lists. Nowadays a click on the computer sends your CV and voila, a candidate list – no need to talk to you, let alone actually meet you. So yes, using the internet to find roles was definitely quicker but the complete lack of people contact was an isolating and depressing experience.
Once you start, you’ll find most of the jobs advertised are via individual Recruitment Agencies or via aggregated sites like reed or totaljobs. I applied for many jobs using these sites and I can honestly say that only 2 or 3 recruitment agencies took the trouble to call me or asked to meet me so that they could go through my CV. Of course I followed up my one-click submissions by telephone only to be told that they couldn’t discuss my application right then but would call back – which they seldom did. I asked many Agencies why they didn’t contact me when my CV clearly matched the role spec and I was told ‘there are too many candidates out there to contact each one’, which isn’t helpful.
Some agencies send you an automated ‘Dear Candidate’ email on receipt of application and helpfully tell you that ‘if you don’t hear from us within x days then your application has been unsuccessful’ so they don’t even have to bother to send you a rejection email. Worst of all are those agencies who don’t bother to contact you at all – either to acknowledge your application or to reject it. Another wonderful benefit of these email responses is standardisation! I don’t think there is anything more soul destroying than receiving a ‘Dear John’ email rejection from an agency that you’ve never even spoken to. Even worse is when you have spoken to an Agency and they still send you a standard rejection email and don’t even acknowledge who you are by name! Email communication is cheap and quick no doubt about it and a rejection is a rejection no doubt about that but personalised email communication isn’t a new technological advance – rejected applicants are just not important enough to spend any time on.
Another unhelpful technological step-forward is that internet-advertised jobsites aren’t always up-to-date. I applied for quite a few jobs that were filled weeks before but the agency simply hadn’t bothered to remove the advert – I wasted my time and a lot of effort for nothing.
The application counter is another great ego-booster. On some sites you can see how many people have applied for a job and when you’ve spent hours crafting that CV and letter only to see that 40 or more other applicants have done the same thing, it can be very disheartening. One role I applied for had 970 applicants!
One upside is that employer-advertised jobs always get a response. Some employers prefer to recruit directly and in my experience they always take the time to reply to you as an individual and let you know progress regarding your application. I managed to get more interviews this way than through any recruitment site.
So for those of you about to come on to the job market, prepare yourself: you probably won’t speak to anyone or meet anyone for most of the jobs you apply for. Apparently a CV now tells them everything they need to know – the uniqueness that is you, is irrelevant. How this will work then when droves of public sector employees, people with reduced benefits and private sector redundancies all come on to the job market, I really have no idea – and nor do they.
Categories: Just Thoughts