The everyman candidate and why they are killing recruitment

July 2015
By: Steve Simmance

Rejoice, yet another 'one-size-fits-all’ CV has landed in my inbox. I know just from looking at the file name that it is unlikely that any REAL effort has gone into its creation. It is all just too easy. Insert name, attach file, and send. When did this type of behaviour become acceptable in the job market?

Not too long ago, I remember people taking concerted time to research companies and fine-tune their CV for specific roles based on their abilities. Candidates used their CV as a pitch presentation, to catch the hiring manager's attention, and communicate why they were the best fit for the job. This approach also included writing and rewriting a carefully targeted and thought out cover letter that conveyed communication strength, interest and suitability to the role at hand.

Now don't get me wrong, digital has been (and will continue to be) a positive change to the industry that I love, although it has also been instrumental in driving the decline of values in courtesy and professional respect that the long gone manual system required. Recruitment especially used to be a real person-to-person industry. Digital has led to a less individual and tailored environment, its impersonal nature providing the inexcusable reason to avoid giving truthful feedback. But does it have to be this way?

Who’s looking at you Kid?

In recent years, recruitment has evolved to become an even more specialist industry, or at least the demands on us have increased tenfold as I’ve observed in my 28 years’ experience. Those 28 years should (and do!) count for something, and can have a significant impact on the decision process of selecting who goes forward for interview and gets the role. Where digital has made the process of job application easy, it seems to me that attention to detail and care have dwindled. Yes, job boards are a plenty, and niche start-up recruitment is easy to offer as a service, but where is the respect for the real expertise of this practice? I miss receiving witty candidate letters, selling their virtues and standing out from the crowd. CVs which offer on-point specific experience and training which proves suitability for the role applied for. Maybe poor recruiter behaviour has bred contempt amongst candidates and clients, but then I always say; “Never lower your standards to those you don’t respect”. Like anything in life, in a world of mediocrity it is easy to stand out from the crowd if you make the effort, and grasp the opportunity to behave with strong professional values that you believe make you the character you are.

Candidates of all ages and levels of experience and skill now feel like they can pick up and drop recruitment expertise as and when they wish. We are their best friend when they want a job. We are nothing to them when they are 'happy' in their current role, dismissed without professional consideration. When they do decide it is time for a change, they hastily set out to update their CV, playing buzzword jargon bingo with the things they claim to have done, firing it off as an email attachment under a reference number. In my experience however it is these very individuals who lack the social skills and a grasp of the fundamentals in corporate politesse - such as a return phone call, replying to an email, a personalised letter – which will potentially be their undoing. Ironically, with so much technology at our finger tips it is so easy and basic good manners are free of charge!

Attitude is so important too wherever you are on the corporate ladder. So why do we accept those who act like they are owed something, and think they are five steps higher up the ladder than reality suggests? The extension of this is the tall tales of what they claim to have done, and what they have actually done. The slight embellishment of activities and achievement may be nothing new, but oversharing on social media has taken it to a whole new level. So why at least not tailor it to that of the individual job that is sought? Yes, it requires a little extra time and effort to write (or at least tweak) a CV and cover letter for every job you apply for. But that’s exactly why you should do it. Do you want to stand out among the pool of applicants or do you want to be just another resume in the pile?

Change now!

This is my rallying call, a mission to arms if you will. If you are not as I’ve outlined then it gives me reassurance that professional business principles are alive and well. If some of this has pricked your consciousness and you identify with these traits, there is still hope.

Why not try the following:

  • Read the ad carefully. Make sure you are genuinely qualified for the job against the criteria set out. 
  • Recruiters are inundated with irrelevant applications; don’t waste your time or theirs if you haven’t got the required experience.
  • We say ‘ideally we are looking for’ in the copy - it means you should have this experience.
  • Don’t waste time with long standard ‘one size fits all’ covering letters. Be precise, specific and relevant.
  • Do explain why we should believe you have the needed experience and what makes you the best person in your covering note – be truthful and honest!
  • Been rejected? Believe you’re genuinely suitable? Then insist on feedback, you deserve it. Your persistence may even get you a second chance.
  • Employer job sites which don’t respond to your application don’t deserve you. There’s no excuse for not acknowledging your efforts, even if you are unsuccessful.
  • Finally - Listen. Learn. Respect your recruitment partner. You'll do great with the right attitude, values and wise professionals around you to get ahead of the crowd.


More thoughts

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Guided by the candid approach of Steve Simmance, who has been an FMCG recruiter for over 25 years, we provide a true counterbalance to the norm, encouraging transparency and reality, factors so often missing in our industry today.

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