21st Century Life

The soul-crushing process of job applications

Job-hunting? Or maybe you are, like me, freelancing. In which case, the job-hunting is never done.

Looking for new opportunities is awesome. Finding interesting and – at least YOU think – a perfect-fit job is the fun and giggle part of the hunt.

If only they could see the glow you get when you read a description that screams: ‘you’.

Unfortunately, however, you have to go and write it down, tailor your application to each super-duper new “Oh my god I just WANT that job” opportunity. You have to come across as totally devoted to the job, whilst still making them want you, ie being aloof enough that they think you’re a catch; excited without being cray-cray. It should be “you” without being the REAL you (god forbid), and of course, all this within a page or less.

Whilst I have no problem talking about myself – heaven knows I spend enough time doing just that over drinks with friends – the process of talking about myself so as to appear in the best light for potential clients/ bosses makes me hyperventilate. I literally have nightmares about what I should write, or not, and of course, I always come up with the perfect cover letter just before finally dozing off. Which means I never remember it the next day. All I have left is the very fuzzy feeling that I FINALLY got it.

It happens every time. And every time, I think about the pesky cover letter for so long that I end up putting something “boring” together at the last minute – read: when I just can’t take it anymore, the day I set aside for “applications” (I do write it in my diary!) or even the deadline day.

When I say boring I mean the kind of letter we ALL write, or have written at some point. The one you can’t even be bothered re-reading, it’s that sleep-inducing. I don’t know why anyone would believe these would grab the recruiters’ attention. However, sometimes, there is a very “good” cover letter you just think is totally you. Except, these never get a return email. There is such a thing as being too full of personality. It reads as: sounds fun, but how on earth is this person going to adapt to us?

And so, the next time, you’re back to the blablabla, tick all the boxes but want to hang myself bull that got you your last gig.

There are endless resources that claim to teach you how to write the perfect application. The one that’s going to lend you THE job you’ve always wanted. The truth is, your application is going to be read by a human being. And sometimes, that human being just can’t be bothered, had an argument with their mates, or is thinking about the weekend when they’re reading what you spent so much time agonising over. And so, it might be that the super personal letter makes them tick. Or they just want to get it over with and you seem to fit the profile, so they’ll pick you.

Who knows?

Even having been on the other side of the table and having read hundreds of applications, and having had to make a decision, it really depended. Sometimes I’d put something in the no pile and re-read it the next day and wonder what was wrong with me.

It might be soul-crushing to apply to jobs, because ultimately, we put ourselves on the table. But we keep at it, because the next table might be the one that lights up with big “YOU’RE IN” flashing lights.

And then, there’s the fact that, well, this girl needs to eat.


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