With a new study claiming that an average of four people chase every job vacancy in the UK it’s time to think about how you can make your job applications stand out from the crowd.
The study which was conducted by Unison reveals that the Isle of Wight is the most competitive place to find a job in the UK with an average of 24 people applying for every job. Close behind is Hackney in London with 20 applications per vacancy. The average number of applications for London as a whole is said to be 10 applicants per vacancy.
I have to say that in my experience these figures vastly understate the level of competition for jobs. Anecdotal evidence from both employers and recruiters suggests that, for some jobs, the figure is closer to 50 applications per vacancy and it’s not unusual to have many more than that.
So what can you do to make your application stand out from the crowd?
Well, if you are serious about your job search then the good news is that many of those applications are of quite poor quality or don’t match the job requirement. Recruiters sifting through a large number of applications for a job will typically spend no more than 30 seconds per CV making snap decisions on a candidate’s suitability. Having a CV full of grammatical and spelling errors is a sure way to get your job application consigned to the bin. Next up would be the “essential skills” which are usually specified in the job advertisement. When a job advertisement says “must have previous retail banking experience” or “must speak fluent French” then these are almost certainly non-negotiable; if you’ve been working in telecoms and speak only basic French then don’t apply for these jobs!
When my coaching clients tell me they’ve applied for 50 jobs and had no interviews I always ask to see the details of jobs they’ve applied for. Invariably the reason they haven’t been successful is because they’ve been applying for jobs where they don’t have the required skills and experience. My advice is to choose just a few jobs where you are absolutely sure that you have either all or most of the skills specified and then really spend time on those applications. That means sending out an error free CV and covering letter and making quite sure that all of the key requirements of the job are clearly reflected in your application. A recruiter does not have time to wade through a 10 page CV trying to discover if you have the right background. Make the recruiter’s job easy by keeping your CV short and easy to read. Where possible use bullets rather than long winded paragraphs. Use the covering letter to highlight why you are exactly the right candidate and if necessary customise your CV to the specific job, bold key words, be sure to include experience and achievements that are relevant to the job. These simple steps will ensure that your application will stand out from the crowd.
Spend this extra time on just a few carefully selected job applications and you will start getting more positive responses to your job applications.