I recently was in search of a freelance graphic designer for one of my clients. In order to be eligible, as the ad clearly stated, you needed to have had experience in the retail sector (and I don’t mean sales), be capable of producing print catalogues and have experience with annotations via an online system. Additionally, you needed to be available to work onsite for an established period of time. These are not requirements that have been given to us because our client wants to be picky; they’re simply requirements that they need to have in order to successfully do the job in a timely and fuss-free manner.
So what kind of application responses do I get? The reality is that the majority of responses that I receive for the role have clearly not read the ad. Within minutes of looking at their application, I can see clear and obvious reasons why they would not be suitable for the role; no experience in the retail sector, no experience in catalogues, applications from interstate and overseas (fine for permanent but for short term freelance, it poses a red flag).
One applicant sent in a cover letter that stated that they had read the requirements for the position and believed they were a ‘perfect fit’. The applicant, while I'm sure they have many great skills, had been a UX / UI Designer for the past four years (web, not print), no retail experience, no catalogue experience - at least none that her application or work environments would indicate. It becomes pretty obvious that this person has either a very loose definition of ‘perfect fit’ or they’ve just not read the ad and they’ve sent me a standard cover letter.
I have to be honest, in those moments I sometimes have to bite my tongue when I reply. I get it; people want work and they want to find a job sooner than later. I certainly don’t want to come across as being heartless or lacking any form of compassion and empathy for those on the job hunt. Having said that, have they considered how it comes across from the other side? We’re under pressure to find the right match for our client. We’re working through countless applications. When you see an application that is so far removed from what is being asked for, you have to wonder what has gone through their minds to believe they are the ‘perfect match’ for the criteria stated.
I’m not writing this piece to vent a rant (well, not entirely). I’m writing it because I think there is value in understanding what it is like from the other side although I have no doubt that there are countless recruiters knowingly nodding their heads while reading this shared experience.
What’s worse is when we politely decline the applicant and get back an attitude-rich reply, demanding more information as to why they’ve been unsuccessful. As a general tip, if your recruiters decides that they will take the time to reply and their response contains the words, ‘as the job ad states’, then it clearly indicates they know you have not read the ad properly.
Recruiters don’t enjoy telling people that they’re not right for a role, however, without some occasional tough love, people are going to continue to apply for random jobs without reading the job ads and, in the process, completely ruin their chances of obtaining work through that agency.
The simple solution is this; if you’re applying for a job ad, ensure that your application, your cover letter, your CV and your folio all are aligned with what they’re looking for in the job ad. Ensure that your application absolutely screams that you’re the right person for the role. This may mean taking a moment to tweak everything so that it matches, however, taking that time is going to be absolutely worth it if you know that the hiring manager is going to open it and immediately see why you’ve felt you were a perfect match for the role.
Should you have trouble making that match, consider if the job you’re applying for is actually the right position for you. There is nothing more damaging for your own brand than to constantly apply for positions that you’re not suitable for nor have any real chance of landing due to being completely inexperienced in that area.
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