An open letter for Job applicants

I though I might go sideways with this post.

When I am not making fun things I have a real job, and one of my responsibilities is the recruitment of staff, luckily its a small company where colleagues tend to stay a while, so its not something I have to do very often, but when I do I find its the most depressing process. Looking around the web I have seen several posts about the difficulties of getting a job, how to get an employer interested, but nothing from an employer. So here goes time to stick my head above the parapet

I run a company engaged in the supply of technical equipment for theatres shows and events, and one of the things we have to deal with is very large quantities of electricity, therefore I need to employ people with technical ability and qualifications to back it up. You wouldn’t think that’s a problem.

The first issue is the Further Education sector in England and I am sure its the same all over the world, who churn out technical theatre graduates, with degrees that aren’t worth the paper they are written on. The universities and colleges all run acting courses and  need technicians to operate the lighting and sound in performances in order to let their actors shine. Therefore they create course’s for self styled technicians, where they learn all about the art and craft, and nothing about the nuts and bolts, like electricity, a bit like training a mechanic but forgetting to talk about the engine. As a result they are unemployable in the real world but with a very inflated view of the worth and ability.

We are currently advertising and I am now receiving Job applications. Firstly if I ask for qualifications its because you need qualifications to do the job. I don’t just offer that large salary because I am a nice chap, I am recognising the fact that I have to pay for qualifications. Knowing what a plug looks like doesn’t make you an electrician, so whatever the job if the advert says you need a specific qualifications there is a reason and if you don’t have it don’t bother applying, which gets rid of 80% of the applications. I understand if your unemployed you have to make so many applications to keep your benefits and don’t get me started on the blood sucking parasites that are Job Placement firms fiddling their figures to get tax payers money, but to stand a chance of a paid job apply for the work you can do, or have the reasonable potential to do. As a simple rule the higher the wage the less training an employer expects to do. If they are paying £50k there is a reason.

Having started on the application make it fit the firm your applying to. Sounds like a lot of hard work when your applying for a few, but a generic application where you change the job title applied for at the top sticks out  like a sore thumb. When you forget to change the job title from your previous application, like the one I have just received is even worse, It shows a lack of attention to detail and why would I employ you?

Do your research. As a minimum look at their web site to make sure what you think they do lines up with the reality. In my case why would I look at CVs emphasising your credentials as a studio sound engineer when we don’t have a studio, just because we do sound. There’s more than one sort of audio and as a professional I expect you to know that.  So look at their website, sounds obvious  but very few people bother, so its an easy edge for you to get.

Correct spelling on applications isn’t an optional extra, spell checkers are available.  I am wanting to employ someone who will represent my firm in a professional manner, you may never write anything down when your working for me, but if you cant represent yourself to start with how are you going to represent me. I still get text speak application’s. They aren’t hip, or cool there binned.

Probably the bit that causes me to discard the most applications are the lies on your CV which are blindingly obvious. Applicants assume that I have never been in their position, forgetting that I got to where I am by doing their job first, and  the exaggeration’s can take on fisherman proportions, my apologies if your a sensitive fisherman. We all like to over emphasise our role, myself included, but when applicant tells me that their are responsible for the complete technical provision for the Rolling Stones at Glastonbury festival its a lie. I am prepared to accept that were there, they probably had a student summer job and helped unload the truck, they may have even plugged something in, but lighting designer is stretching it too far. If they were that good why would they apply to work for my modest firm in an entry level position. Maybe that’s an extreme example to illustrate a point, but lies shine out, and if you are going to spin things at least make it believable. I am not trying to employ superman I just want someone who can do the job, ideally with potential.

The use of humour is an interesting one. I like most people think I have a sense of humour and appreciate its careful use. I have just seen an application where I was given a list of relevant accomplishment’s followed by ” and I make a good cup of Tea”. I liked that it showed someone slightly irreverent with a sense of humour and it would have got him an interview if he had the qualification’s, and he is still probably worth keeping on the list. In small companies you work closely with people and need to be able to relate to each other. A sense of humour is always desirable, it might be difficult in large companies so tread lightly. As an aside Bosses always like being made tea especially in my firm.

Hobbies on a CV is another fascinating area. As an employer I want someone I can relate to, so when a young man tells me as one did that he spends his free time “hanging around in the park with his mates and retail therapy”  he goes down in flames. Neither do I want to know that they spend every evening and weekend on some very time consuming hobby refighting battles or such like, which whilst its fascinating makes them unavailable for evening and weekend work, a bit of a problem in the entertainment industry. If you claim to read books it helps when asked if you know the titles of a few. We all watch TV but would I put it down as a hobby on my CV, you be surprised. Socialising with friends is code for drunk, never good. This is an opportunity to showcase the real you, or as much as a prospective employer should see, but be prepared to discuss it if you get an interview, its what makes you different from the crowd. But not too different, and remember to cull your face book pictures we do look.

So in summary choose your applications carefully, applying for jobs you could reasonably expect to get based on your abilities, if the job needs qualifications make sure you have them and if you don’t and its where you want to be, get studying. Make you application personal and fit the level of the firm your applying to it, or maybe ever so slightly above, after all they are lucky to have you. Finally remember the firm spent money, often real money advertising the job, they didn’t do it for laughs they need someone, so it might as well be you.

Wish me luck its the interviews next


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