Serial applier says “what?”

Applying to as many job boards as you can is a common job search mistake many job seekers make. Click through to find out why this is a mistake, and how you can do 3 things to maximise your job search instead.

Sending Out As Many CVs As You Can

Working in a couple of different recruitment agencies taught me many lessons in human behavior; some positive, and some downright self-destructive. The self-destructive activity that I’d like to talk about is “serial applying”, which is a surprisingly common behavior exhibited by job seekers. The more I saw this common phenomenon, the more it enthralled me, and after asking some job seekers in the market a couple of basic questions regarding this behavior, it became clear that the negative effect this activity has on these job seekers’ chances at finding employment in this market, was not as apparent as one would think.

The reason job seekers are unaware of the negative impact of serial applying is a bit childish to be honest, but it needs to be said. “Serial Applier” is a label that is bestowed on a job seeker by recruiters. It becomes a running joke in a recruitment office, so when Jane Doe applies for ten jobs with the same recruiter, or recruitment company in, say, a week, then every time her CV comes into the inbox again, there is a comical reaction, such as: ”Jane Doe again guys, she must be super human, LOL”. Then after the laughs and high fives, Jane Doe’s CV goes straight to “Deleted Items”. What are Jane’s odds of finding a job via recruiters now?

The “Serial Applier” label is applied by internal recruiters and HR people as well, but instead of laughing with others in the office, they laugh on the inside. Jane Doe is just as screwed though – just saying.

Here are the three main things to consider when applying for jobs (so you don’t become a serial applier):

  1. Know your audience – Do your homework before answering on a job ad. Learn as much about the company and the hiring manager advertising the role as you can. If it is a recruitment company that is running the ad, then find out who their consultants are that specialize in your line of work, and then find out more about the consultant that is working on the role advertised. When you do this, the odds of you sending your CV to the same person more than once is way less, plus you will have more information to use to start building a professional relationship with the recipient of your CV.
  2. Be proactive – Don’t just sit in front of a computer and send application after application through on job boards. That’s not being proactive- it’s being reactive really. Also, you are playing a false game of “improving my odds through volume”. You are more likely to pick up a nice new shiny “Serial Applier” label. Before you start applying for jobs that are being advertised on job boards, think about the competition. If you are seeing the ad, then hundreds of other eager job seekers are seeing the same ad, and they are likely to apply as well, so what differentiates you from them. Talk with your peers in the market to find out more about the job, the hiring manager and other information that could help you build a better case to apply with. The other thing that happens when you talk with your peers is that you will be tapping into a job market that isn’t publicized- up to 80% of job vacancies aren’t advertised at the time you are looking. You will only know about these opportunities if you talk with the right people- normally your peers.
  3. Follow up – This is where many, many people drop the ball. Once you’ve applied for a job, it is very important to keep the communication going. Sending your CV is only the beginning (when applying to an ad), so you need to follow up after sending it. To do this, you need to know who the recipient is (see 1.), and you need to know how to contact him/her. The object is not to pepper his/her phone every day to get answers, and also not to ask if they received the CV. The first follow up contact should preferably be a phone call, and the reason you state should be something like: “I had a look at the ad you wrote for the Stable Boy job at ABC, and I want to compliment you on it. It showed me exactly what you needed, and how the role fits into the rest of the business. ABC sounds like a great company, where magic is likely real, and from what I saw in the ad, I just had to apply- thank you for the opportunity. Aside from the recruitment process, it would be great to meet with you for a coffee to learn more about the business and why it is so successful, so would you let me buy you a coffee next week at some stage?”

The three things above should be common sense, I know, but I see so many people missing the mark and getting labeled Serial Appliers, that I wanted to – as they say – tell the world.