The importance of reading a job spec carefully

Written by Dave Cullen

Recruiters receive a high volume of emails from jobseekers enquiring about potential vacancies or applying for advertised roles. Unfortunately, due to the considerable volume of competition in the market, not all applications will be successful. The types of unsuccessful applications that a recruiter receives include the following four categories:

  • Applicants with CVs and cover letters containing spelling and grammatical errors
  • Applicants who possessed much of the required criteria for a role but lacked some critical element like sufficient education or experience
  • Applicants who possessed all of the required criteria but due to the depth of competition, they lost out to a candidate with greater career achievements
  • Applicants who were generally unsuitable for the role

Always read a job spec carefullyThis last category of candidates exists because they have failed to adequately read or understand the job description of the role for which they are applying. Recruiters carefully produce job specs to meet the very specific needs of their client. The description of the role, responsibilities, the required skills, experience and qualifications are all outlined to help separate the ideal candidates from those who are entirely unsuited for the position.

A jobseeker, who fails to fully identify the requirements of a job, will almost certainly fail to reach the interview stage and are guaranteed to receive a rejection email or phone call from the recruiter. Applying for a job that you are unsuited for wastes the recruiter’s time and your own.

There is clearly a difference between believing you could do a job and being able to actually do it. For example, applying for the role of a Business Development Executive that requires 2- 3 years’ previous field sales and cold calling experience when you have only worked as an inbound sales rep, is probably not recommended.  Pay attention to the essential criteria of the role. If done correctly, a job application should be a long and carefully measured process. It is essential that you customise your application to each role you apply for. This means, understanding the role so that you can sufficiently tailor your CV and cover letter accordingly.

A candidate who continues to apply for roles for which they are unsuited will almost certainly bring their employment search to a grinding halt. Furthermore, the increased likelihood of rejections will gradually begin to erode their confidence and cause further frustration. Being unemployed is an opportunity to assess your previous experience, set yourself new professional goals and build a career path plan. This means being realistic about what is currently achievable in your career in order to help set a viable course for success in the future.

You could also build your career plan based on the kind of company and conditions you would ideally like to work under. Culture, work-life balance and potential for future career advancement are all powerful influencing factors in determining the role, industry and type of employer that many jobseekers pursue.

If you discover that you are currently under qualified for your dream job, perhaps you might consider the areas you need to improve upon in order to one day achieve this position. Perhaps participating in an internship or a further education programme would be beneficial to help bolster your candidacy.

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