By: Grant Verhoeven
Give me some job application feedback … Pleeease!!!
This is what one applicant asked for in response to his unsuccessful job application to Airways to be an air traffic controller.
Applicants had a less than 2 per cent success rate, as only 12 of the reported total of 493 applicants were offered a position.
So what happened if you got through the first stage? You then had to complete four online assessments within three days. Pass this stage, and I am guessing a proper face-to-face interview (or three) would follow, and then if you get through all that, congratulations, you have been accepted, with a catch: your employment begins with unpaid workplace learning for a whole year.
Who likes rejection? Who would want to do this job? Apparently heaps of people!
I have a friend that just loves planes and would love to do it, but unfortunately because of a medical condition he can’t fly solo. More on him in a moment.
Personally, I hate getting the thanks, but no thanks, email when applying for work. Don’t you?
“Due to the high quality of applicants, you have not been selected to progress.” Grrrrrrr.
So, if they are calling for applicants, why not give us the courtesy of a decent explanation as to why so few are successful, and why we weren’t.
Why did we get a ‘no thanks’ response?
1.They want to cover their butt. Sorry, I mean make sure they don’t get in trouble.
Having been on many interview panels as an employer myself and as a guest interviewer for other companies, it opens up a can of legal worms trying to explain to a dejected applicant why they haven’t been picked. The solution: generic feedback that you didn’t match the requirements – which gives the unsuccessful applicant no idea on how to improve.
2. Often there are very small margins.
Sometimes the difference between being selected and not being selected is so small it is hard to explain. Again, the solution for employers is to play it safe and give only generic feedback.
3. Work overload.
Unless they hired another new HR team, businesses just don’t have the time or resources to give individual feedback to all 400+ applicants. Even if each response only took five minutes, that would equate to more than 33 hours for an individual response to 400 applicants. What employer would want to lose a team member from their usual day-to-day tasks to respond to each and every applicant for almost the entire working week?
So what can we do?
I have helped thousands of people prepare, launch and move into the next step in their career. Rejection is often part of the game. Here are three of my best recommendations:
Get help from a professional
Would you do brain surgery on yourself? No! So why try to go it alone?
Why put in an application that may not be putting your best foot forward – because of your lack of experience or knowledge in preparing a CV, cover letter or filling in the application form – when people out there know how to do it properly and can do it fast? You might say “of course he would say that” but I have seen the difference – and when I went through redundancy in my mid 30s I experienced how much time a professional can save in succeeding in the job hunt process.
They will also give you honest feedback on what information you should be submitting, and what you should omit, to give you the best possible chance of success. And no, don’t ask your friend or dad who last applied for a role in the 60s.
An actual professional can give you professional, expert advice, tips and structure. Part of their expertise is knowing what employers are looking for in an application, so they know how to word your application to ensure your unique strengths are made to shine.
Sure, it will cost, but what is it worth to invest in a qualified careers professional who can take the pain, stress and frustration out of putting in an application – and, possibly secure you the role by making your application stand out from the rest. For a $95k starting salary – 10 per cent? Two per cent is $1900, or $36 per week. Over a three-year tenure, that’s about $10 a week invested in your success, and getting to the front of the queue. People spend more on a Lotto ticket.
Network like your next job depended on it
Don’t just apply to advertisements cold. Once the ad is up, everybody is applying. So, network: go to events run by the advertising company; have coffee with relevant connections; connect to people on LinkedIn – it is who you know, and who knows you. And do not just do it when you need a job. Do it while in your current role – even if you are loving it and not thinking of leaving, you never know when things can change.
Manage your expectations, and keep improving
I worked with nursing students applying to DHBs around the country. The success rate for applicants varied, but as a general guide the success rate was around one in three in the initial round. You need to know the industry and the chances of success so you can manage your expectations. Also, if you are unsuccessful the first time, pick yourself up, focus on improving your application (maybe even think about upskilling to improve your application and make you the best pick), and try again. Rejection can be the very best feedback and motivator – just ask Colonel Sanders who started KFC: his recipe was rejected 1009 times before anyone accepted it.
So, are you thinking of a change this year, and keen to avoid the pain of lots of unnecessary rejection emails? Then make sure you find out about our game-changing career development training, coaching programmes, resources, and tips at Sparked Careers.
And to all those budding air controllers – perhaps take the approach of a friend of mine who went the extra mile to ensure his success by building his own simulator and learning all the language for flight controllers via Google and listening online.