How to lose a role before you even apply


We’re in the midst of recruitment for a number of roles, and the process has highlighted a few things that we wish applicants knew or would take into consideration to avoid taking themselves out of the running before the race begins.

That may seem harsh, and perhaps it is. Finding the right person for the right role, especially in more senior or specialised positions, is an art and a science – especially since there is a wide range of responses to open roles… from underqualified to overqualified, left or right of field and everything in between. And each application deserves consideration on its own merit – perhaps not a screening phone call or interview, but to be given the chance to give us their elevator pitch.

That pitch should come in the form of the application process, ideally straight away in the cover letter and resume. It should not come in the form of an unsolicited phone call to force the recruiter to hear why you are perfect for the role, under the guise of wanting to ask questions about the role.

What about candidate care?

‘Candidate care’ is making sure that every applicant, whether they are successful or not, feels respected and well-treated by the company. Each of them is a potential brand ambassador, and as a business you can help influence whether your brand is going to receive positive or negative word of mouth.

At Businessary, we do feel that providing a strong level of candidate care is an essential part of our recruitment service. We’re not only representing OUR brand as Businessary but also that of the individual client we’re recruiting for. And each of those clients’ brands have their own unique personality that they want to be known for – being friendly, innovative, community-minded, and so on. So we try to reflect that as much as possible in any candidate interactions.

This can be a challenge at times…

Each time we’ve posted a fairly significant role (and to some extent this happens with any role), we get a huge range of responses. And a huge range of personalities that come with the responses.

Inevitably, a high number of candidates want to ring us to make their ‘pre-first impression impression.’

While it’s intended to show initiative, what we often experience is someone who calls and without allowing us to get a word in edgewise (to let them know the process, ask what questions they may have or even in fact tell them that they’ve not reached the correct person!), the candidate may launch into a lengthy monologue on their experience and how they are absolutely perfect for the role. Where it becomes challenging is when you start to get hundreds of applicants that want to call and talk at you.

This is not the interview stage of the role yet!

If you call and spend ten minutes of our time trying to thwart the interview process, not only have you failed to get your resume to the top of the pile, you may have even left a negative impression (especially to those who have done no research on the company they are applying with and refer to the company by the wrong name!)

And if you send multiple applications to the job ad? Well…let’s just say your resume better be stellar enough to warrant a second read or it’s likely to get deleted from the short list.

What can a candidate do to improve their first impressions?

To be really clear: we don’t want people to be afraid to ring us. But if you do ring us, make sure it’s relevant to the current stage of application. Examples of good questions or comments could include:

  • I notice there’s no salary indicated for the role – I’m looking in the ballpark of $150,000, am I in the range or would it be a waste of our time for me to apply?
  • The job ad states that the company is a start-up – can you tell me when roughly they are looking to launch?
  • Does the role have a team or is the role looking to build a team?
  • Could you clarify the level of seniority you’re looking for?
  • The job ad doesn’t state whether industry-specific experience is required – could you tell me if you’re looking for a specific set of skills that could be from a diverse background or if industry experience would be greatly preferred?

And if you really want to wow us?

To get to the interview stage, what we really like to see is a tailored cover letter. Make sure to be really clear up front in case we don’t read further – the first third of the page should give us a summary of what you’re looking for and why you’re applying for THIS role.

Then we want to sense that you are enthusiastic about the opportunity without being disingenuous. A modern CV can be one that the recruiter can actually enjoy reading. It should be designed to suit the role (marketing role applicants we’re looking at you). So for roles that are creative, feel free to do something attention-grabbing, if you are applying for a technical role, don’t hold back on demonstrating that technical capability.

When it comes to the interview, do your research. We can (and probably will) write a whole article on interview tips, but one of the biggest points we’d make is to avoid a monologue (take non-verbal cues from the interviewer!) and come with informed questions to ask – it should be an engaging, two-way conversation.

And with most interviews, there’s always a small element of ‘je ne sais quoi’, a certain something. So for that, we say be genuine, and good luck.