How to apply for the right roles

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This month we wanted to look at how to apply for the right roles?

According to the latest Labour Market Overview from the ONS:

  • The UK unemployment rate in the three months to September 2020 was estimated at 4.8%, 0.9 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.7 percentage points higher than the previous quarter.
  • “In the three months to September 2020 redundancies reached a record high of 314,000; an increase of a record 181,000 on the quarter.
  • “33,000 fewer people were in pay rolled employment when compared with September 2020 and 782,000 fewer people were in pay rolled employment when compared with March 2020.
  • “In October 2020, 33,000 fewer people were in pay rolled employment when compared with September 2020 and 782,000 fewer people were in pay rolled employment when compared with March 2020.

For the UK recruitment industry that all means more people applying for fewer roles.

And that’s a trend we’re already experiencing here at Barron Williams.

Many of the recent briefs we’ve worked on in the latter part of 2020 have received double the applications they would have in 2019.

However, we’ve not necessarily received double the “quality” to match quantity. 

In other words, good people yes, but not what the client brief requires.

Many are quickly rejected as they don’t meet the requirements of the role brief. Period.

The big one is often a lack of relevant experience. 

If the brief requires certain experience, if you don’t have it, don’t apply.

Sounds simple but people still apply because they want the role, regardless of whether they match the brief or not.

Many feel their skills are transferable, and whilst I would sometimes agree, if a client specifies certain experience, it is non negotiable. 

There’ll be a reason… If they have a clear ‘fit’ in mind, don’t waste time.

The role brief itself shouldn’t be a cut and paste or advert aimed at attracting as many applicants as possible. 

It should tell you whether you’re what they’re looking for. 

For us, it is carefully researched and written to help you self-select. 

It is a description of who we (Barron Williams and our client) want for the role. 

If you can’t score yourself 8 out of 10 to that brief, stop.

Which roles should you apply for?

Many will read a role brief and say I can do that role? 

It takes 10 seconds or less to attach a CV on a job board and “click to apply”. 

However, the real question you should be asking is do they want me to do that role?

If you can’t honestly convince yourself of that, then my advice would be to not apply.

Focus your time and energy on the roles where you and your CV are a close fit.

I appreciate when people are actively seeking their next role there is a temptation to cast the net wide. Apply for roles you think you can do.

At the senior exec level that is a strategy that will quickly dishearten you. 

You could be lucky of course, however, being ‘lucky’ is a difficult strategy to implement.

As a rule of thumb, apply for half the roles but spend twice as long on those you should apply for.

What happens to your odds of being successful when you submit a tailored and clearly thought through application? They improve immeasurably.

Do your homework

  • Research the company and sector
    Speak to contacts who may know the market.
  • Be proactive about your application
    Call the recruiter or headhunter and discuss your fit to the role. Understand their process and gain as much information as you can. Help them to help you.
  • Treat every interaction as part of the interview process
    We want to know what you’ve been doing lately and how it relates to the role that you’re applying for. We’re assessing you against the role and other candidates. Constantly!
  • It’s good to talk
    If the company are not named, speak to the recruitment consultant and establish as much information as you can. Apply and follow up with a call, or call to find out more info, then apply. Be proactive!
  • Tailor your CV to the organisation and the role brief
    Always… Always… Always… A ‘generic’ CV says, “I’m a genius, come and get me”.
  • Talk the same language
    Use the same terms, and even acronyms. Every industry has its own set of jargon. Translate your experience and past successes into terms that resonate with your target audience. Make it easier for the consultant and HR to present you on a long list. Put some effort in.
  • Demonstrate that you have read and fully understood the role brief
    Clarify, develop and challenge in your discussions with your consultant – This is two-way! Be open with the consultant. Work as a team.
  • Accompany your CV with a well composed covering letter/note
    Clearly explain why you are applying and why you are a good fit to the role and organisation – Two concise paragraphs, never more than one page.

Focus on quality

By applying for the right roles and spending the time to submit a strong application, you are increasing your chance of getting a search firm to call you.

That is the sole purpose of your application.

Act accordingly.

We know the brief. 

We know the client. 

We know exactly who and what they are looking for.

This is your foot in the door. A chance to talk. A chance to truly demonstrate you are the right fit. If you are, we’ll talk, we’ll pitch the role and client to you. But only if you’re a good match to the brief.

At the senior exec level your CV can’t simply be a list of everything you’ve done or are capable of doing, accompanied by some good adjectives. 

On any given day, it’s about the brief in front of us.

What the client needs vs. what you’ve done. Are you what we’re looking for?

If application numbers are high that CV has to work even harder to rise to the top of the pile, but it will if you present yourself as a genuine fit.

Don’t kid yourself if you’re not what the client is looking for.

Be selective.

Be honest.

Would I hire me to do this job?

If not, move on.

If the right role is not currently advertised for you right now, then go find it the hard way… Use your network (or get one)!

Don’t forget your network

It’s where good people who know you, live. They’re nice, they’ll help you.

Leverage your network. Talk to people. Recruiters, yes, but not exclusively!

Tell good people what you’re looking for. They’ll help you find it with information and introductions.

The higher up the corporate ladder you are, the more likely you are to find the best roles via your network. By definition, exec opportunities are fewer – Try and set out to hear about them first!

Talk to ex-clients, suppliers and others who ‘know’ your market(s) and sector(s).

Too many senior execs neglect their network while they’re securely in post. Mistake…

It doesn’t take much effort to keep in touch, offer help, ask for help, etc.

If you have the luxury of biding your time before you start a new role search, then cultivate your network now rather than waiting until you need that help. Make it part of your routine.

To recap… Main points. Don’t apply for roles you shouldn’t. Spend time on roles you should apply for. Show you’re serious from the outset. 

And finally, if the right role isn’t there for you to apply for, use your network to make sure you get to know about it when it appears.

If you’re looking for a senior executive for your organisation, please use our Client Upload Form or Call Us now.

If you’re looking for your next role, then please feel free to Upload Your CV or Call Us for an exploratory conversation. 

Barron Williams

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