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How you’re making your job hunt harder than it needs to be

October, 2021
Adam Richardson

Job hunting is time consuming but the good news is that by planning before you leap you can save vast amounts of time while improving your experience and results. 

The most common job hunting mistakes

The two most common mistakes we see people make when starting a job hunt are: 

  1. applying for too many roles, sometimes even submitting a CV for any and every potentially relevant opportunity; and 
  2. not tailoring every application. 

Applying for every role may seem like the best way to get an interview but in reality it will work against you. Helping a candidate secure a role is time consuming so recruitment consultants focus their efforts on the people who they are likely to place. 

If you have applied for every role under the sun, it is a lottery as far as the recruiter is concerned as to who will place you, whereas if you select between one and three recruitment consultancies then the time investment is sensible. 

How will recruiters know if you’re applying for numerous jobs even if you don’t tell them? Most recruiters (agency and in-house) will be advertising the same roles on the same jobs boards so there is a good chance you will apply for the same role via multiple agencies, often without knowing it. 

When the recruiter calls you to discuss the role it may quickly become apparent you’ve already given permission to another recruiter to put you forward… Or, much worse, you may not realise that another agency has put you forward for the role, so your CV goes to the in-house recruiter from multiple agencies making you and them look disorganised and incompetent. Another give away that you are using a scattergun approach is that you aren’t tailoring your application for each role…

Tailoring applications is time consuming but it makes a MASSIVE difference to your chances of making the longlist and then the shortlist for roles. Recruiters (in-house and agency) are hugely busy at the moment and unless your covering letter clearly relates directly to the job description and signposts the reader to the right part of the CV they will likely move quickly onto the next application without looking at your experience. Furthermore, because tailoring covering letters and CVs takes time, a recruiter is likely to assume that you are being selective about which roles you are applying for meaning they have a good chance of being the person to place you if they follow up quickly. 

How to job hunt successfully

Step 1 - Develop a clear vision of what you want: candidates whose applications are scattergun typically lack either a clear idea of what they want or confidence in their applications. Spend time thinking about your long-term career aspirations and then plan backwards to work out what your next role should entail. If you are still unsure then speak with a recruitment consultant. When you start applying act decisively and focus on one avenue as it will give hiring managers and recruiters confidence in your commitment to the process. 

Step 2 – Choose 1 to 3 recruitment companies: look at the jobs boards, LinkedIn and search google to make a shortlist of recruitment companies who specialise in your sector and that you might want to work with. If you select just one then you will probably be treated like royalty as they know that if they can find you a role they are guaranteed a fee. Select more than three recruiters and you may become an after-thought, used if you’re lucky to bulk out longlists or shortlists. 

Step 3 – Email a recruiter direct: recruiters do look at applications submitted via job boards but if you want to stand out then email them direct. In your email mention where you learned about them, how many recruiters you are looking to work with and the specific role you are applying for. Attach you CV and covering letter, both tailored specifically for that role. That first contact is key to ensuring they think of you as a top candidate so make your initial contact good.

Step 4 – Interview the recruiter: not all recruiters are equal. When a recruiter calls to discuss your application then it is your chance to vet them. You want to get a feel for their knowledge of your sector, the clients they work with and the sorts of roles they recruit for as well as any additional support they can offer such as interview practice and preparation. You should also ask them about how they work e.g. how often they will contact you or you should contact them, as well as finding out what other relevant roles they have on at that moment. If you lack confidence in them then tell them you will get back to them when you start actively looking for roles. You can even ask them to remove you from their system if you really don’t trust or rate them.

While the scattergun approach to applications may make you feel you are covering the whole market, it also often results in a dispiriting feeling that your CV is simply disappearing into a black hole. By taking a structured approach as outlined above you should be able to easily keep track of and follow up on applications, and if you are not being considered for opportunities you can always ask the recruiters you are working with for an explanation. 

If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: or call 0330 174 6801.

About the author:

Adam Richardson - Managing Director

Adam has over 20 years’ experience recruiting procurement and commercial professionals across the construction sector.

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