Thursday, 19 August 2010

In which job applications make me crazy

I’m going to go out on a slightly controversial limb: I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the reason that graduate unemployment is high has less to do with the number of jobs available than it does the calibre of the graduates.

Our Lovely Intern recently announced her resignation, saying she's been inspired by her sister to take off travelling. Columbia's gain is our loss, because she's absolutely cracking. Great at the job from the word go, she's delivered more coverage for one of our clients than is strictly decent. So, to take her place and help us keep swimming through the workload, we've recently opened applications for an internship at Small but Perfectly Formed Agency.

The quality of the applicants is, to put it mildly, disappointing.

Internships in PR: a guide to glaring mistakes that’ll ensure you don’t get the gig.

- My name and details are on the job spec - it's fairly safe to assume I'm the one who'll be deciding your fate. Address the application to me - not to who [sic] it may concern; not to someone whose name would bear a passing resemblance to mine if mine were hideously misspelled; and not to Dear Sir. That's just insulting.

- If I've asked for a covering letter, write one. If there's just one line in your email saying “CV attached”, you either don’t have an eye for detail or you don’t bother following instructions. That CV? It won’t even get opened.

- Check your covering letter. Then do it again. Then get someone else to. If there are errors, I've discounted you before I’ve even opened your CV. Yes, you'll be here to learn, but also here to help. And if I have to check every email you're going to send before it leaves the building, everyone's time is being wasted.

- If you’re after a job in the communications industry, be able to spell “communications”.

- I'm expecting flawless spelling, punctuation and grammar. The first sign that you confuse there and their, and your chances of success are nil.

- I’m all for applying for a job if you feel you’d be great at it, even if you don’t quite have all the qualifications listed as ‘required’. But you're going to have to really convince me that you’re up to the challenge. If I’ve asked that you have a 2.1 and you've got a 2.2, tell me why I should take that chance: show me the excellent writing and flair I've asked for. Don’t just apply because the position’s been advertised. It’ll be another job that you don’t get, wasting my time and making you feel rubbish.

- On which note, if you've got a degree, be a love and list your result. If you don't, I'm going to assume you drank your way through the three years and were lucky to scrape that Third. Needless to say, you won’t be hearing from me.

Yes, I'm a stickler; I have a horribly rigorous selection process and maybe my standards are a little on the high side. But that’s because that’s sure as hell what’ll be expected when New Intern is actually doing the job. There's no room for anything less at our place, so an application needs reflect the applicant’s normal standards, not a one-off example of exceptional effort.

Because there's no way you can hope to practise PR if you have difficulties spelling it.


nuttycow said...

Being the proud owner of a 2:2 myself, I would advise not completely discounting someone who's er.. got a very *solid* drinking degree.

But yes, you're completely right, anyone working in PR, even at the intern level, needs to have some form of head on them. That includes being able to read instructions and spell communications correctly.

The youth of today, eh?

Blonde said...

NC: I won't discount them, if they can prove that they're up to the job. But they need to acknowledge that fact explicitly. And need to have a basic grasp of the English language - which you do, but apparently a lot of today's grads don't. *Mutter mutter, grumble grumble, in my day, etc*

Chômage said...

So their's a job still going then?

nat said...

I agree with you in everythins you say, except dor the grade part.

In my experience, grades do not mean anything most of the time. I have seen many people with perfect grade whore are just that: Perfect grades with perfect memory, but completely dead inside. Not exactly the best thing for doing great PR.
And there are many people that for some reason or another, do not have excellent grades, but are absolutely geniuses, even if they did drink a lot.
Unfortunately, universities are not always fair, specially teachers.

Chômage said...

Please say that was a deliberate spelling mistake. Ha!

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Last year, before my time travelling, I went through the job search process like I am now. There was one I really wanted, got all excited about, did the covering letter for and CV, sent it off. Minutes later I was re-reading through the application form and saw a few errors where I'd copied and pasted bits around and hadn't joined it all up afterwards, if that makes sense. I felt SO stupid, and there was nothing I could do about it. Never heard from them, of course.

From this I learnt three things:

1. Always check, double check and triple check what you've written
2. NEVER READ YOUR APPLICATION AFTER SENDING IT. Arrrrghhhhh. Unless they interview you, of course.

Blonde said...

Chomage: Just... don't.

Nat: I'm not discounting purely on the basis of the degree, but if someone's hoping to work in comms here, their communication needs to be flawless and they need to show me that. I've not seen any sign of that at all.

PDEWYMO: Loving your work, Mrs. (I'm assuming that's a deliberate error?!)

rafairman said...

What about if you've got the worldly experience of years with a First Class Honours from the uni of life and are fancying a career change?

Where would a mature applicant looking for a change fit in to that?

The Cynic said...

I'm assuming you meant "so an application needs TO reflect the applicant's normal standards". Sorry, I couldn't resist that.

Anonymous said...

But it's handy for you that the applicants don't get their stuff checked by someone else, thus showing you what their work is really like.

Blonde said...

RAFairman: So long as they argue their case and prove an ability to do what I've asked, they're welcome to get involved.

TC: Deliberate mistake; well spotted. You've got the gig.

Anon: That is true. But disheartening all the same.

Brennig said...

dear blonde i have a first in psychology and an mba with distinction. and i want to apply for your intership i am real good at comunication's and want to have a pr job. proper job.

at uni i worked hard on my coarse and was told i was one of they're best students. lol.

love and kisses,


Blonde said...

Bren: I kid you not - that is far more coherent than a good proportion of the applications. I want to cry.

Brennig said...

OMG, really? It took me almost 20 minutes to think down to that. You have my warmest congratulations for dealing with it all. x

jman said...

Are you sure you're not chanelling "Disgruntled, Tunbridge Wells?"

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