Saving – and wasting – time: applying for jobs, properly

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By Chris Owen, Director, Hoffman Europe

Before I go on, I need to be clear: this is *not* a snarky whingey post. Despite the theme and the title, I’m going to make this as constructive as possible.

Here’s the thing.

I recently posted a promoted job ad for a Senior Account Manager / Account Director as, well, we need more great talent as we’re growing rapidly and have great clients. This is the only Trojan horse in this blog.

Senior Account Manager/Account Director job description

I received several applications based loosely on the words “account”, “manager”, “senior”, and “director”.

But none were from B2B Tech PR backgrounds — despite this literally being stated in the first line. Every single application had the job title, but from different industries — most predominantly sales.

The result was an exhausting waste of time going through wholly irrelevant CVs — but checking in with each to see if I’d missed anything and they did have B2B tech experience after all. Some replied, many didn’t, and too many tried to bluff it.

HOWEVER. If one of these had stood out and been relevant with the right experience, then I’d have jumped on a call. Not because it would have stuck out like a sore thumb, but because that’s inherently what should come from responding to a job ad.

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So, here are four tips. Helpful ones. If I think of a fifth, I’ll add it …


AKA: Read the Bloody Job Description. Don’t look at the job title and waft your CV over as a couple of the words match. It wastes your time, and it wastes that of the person looking for help. It adds to everyone’s frustration.

Read the room

If someone asks you for more info on your experience which you don’t actually have, just be honest and don’t try and wing it. Don’t say “I think I could easily get up to speed with B2B tech PR as I have a history in sales roles for cars, which have technology in them”. This is just insulting to people who’ve spent their careers developing their skills.

Don’t stereotype

Make sure your application doesn’t cause the recipient to immediately sigh or roll their eyes. We know that “no two days are the same”. Two days are only the same for a Labrador — chasing a ball, panting, sitting, eating, panting, sleeping. Repeat. If you revel in variety, say which bits you like most and how you tackle those you don’t and why this relates to the job in hand.

Research the company

“I’m perfectly suited to The Hoffman Agency’s sales environment” simply shows you’ve copied-and-pasted text from one application to another and haven’t bothered to check if we’re a sales company. If you’re perfectly suited, then it’ll be easy to say why up front and your challenge will be keeping it short and sweet. Of course, if you’re not, then see ‘RTBJD’ above.

One last thing

Look, I know it’s really tough out there, and I am grateful every day that I have a job — especially one I love, which challenges me, and which allows me to work with some of the cleverest, smartest people in the industry for clients for whom we’re proud to deliver superb results. I’m proud our work wins awards — it continues to push each of us, and it reinforces why we need to be at the top of our game to stay ahead.

And if you’re a perfect fit, it’d be great to work with you. But if you’re not right, it’s obvious immediately. Conversely, if you are right, it’s obvious immediately too.

But not everyone is perfect for every company, and not every company is perfect for every candidate. That’s just the way it is! If you want to do well in your career, have a certain personal criterion met by your future employer, you simply have to invest some time — do it for yourself and to not waste other people’s time!

This goes for every role open, and every job post online.

So, make yourself stand out because irrelevant applications will always be too prevalent — which makes the best, most suitable candidates stand out. It’s a win win.

Hope this helps. Happy hunting.

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