I recently met a young graduate who had submitted 850 job applications – yes, eight hundred and fifty – over a period of three months. That is quite an impressive submission rate.
Graduates and recruiters appear to be stuck in a vicious circle.
The odds appear to be loaded against graduates, with too many chasing too few positions. Recognising this, they play the numbers game, applying for far more roles than they can possibly care about.
The recruiters, seeing ever more applications hitting their inboxes, retaliate by applying more (automated) filters to reduce the numbers to more manageable proportions. As a consequence graduates pedal even faster, pushing out ever more applications in the hope that one will breach the recruiters’ defences and result in a job offer. Or at least an interview.
From my experience of talking to graduates, 850 applications is unusual; 200 to 250 applications is more “normal”, but even that represents a lot of time spent applying. Or does it? Is the process too simple? Is it just too easy to Copy/ Paste “standard” text before hitting the Submit button?
I propose a radical alternative, in order to break out of this vicious circle of ever increasing applications and ever more stringent filters; this “arms race” which is of benefit to neither side.
Graduate recruiters should stop accepting electronic applications, and insist on handwritten applications only.
If this sounds draconian and a retrograde step, that’s exactly what it’s intended to be. It is intended to make the process difficult. By doing that, it encourages graduates to think carefully before investing the time needed to make a worthwhile application.[Photo courtesy of University of West England – http://www.myfuture.uwe.ac.uk]
I can already hear recruiters and graduates groaning in disbelief – after all, handwritten applications will take much longer to prepare. Exactly. A handwritten cover letter with a carefully worded explanation as to why the applicant is so well-matched to this position – surely that is more valuable than ten Copy/ Paste generic clones?
It is time to get back to the point where graduates slow down and focus attention on the applications they care about, and where recruiters only have to process a manageable volume of applications.
The effect of this should be a significant reduction in the number of applications – surely good news for both sides? Graduates would spend less time applying. Recruiters would spend less time searching the haystacks for needles.
Surely a win for both sides, and an end to the arms race?