By Robbie Wojciechowski

A couple of months ago, I wrote about how recruiters needed to consider a major overhaul if they were to really start getting people engaged, through the door, and into jobs. But it’s often the process recruiters put in place that stops many of us from engaging with job applications properly.

During my time applying for jobs over the last year, I’ve spent hours filling out forms with the same data about my employment history and school records. Every time, it’s the same listless process, dragging and dropping information that I’ve replicated a hundred times.  It’s got to the point where I’ve built a document with all my scanned academic certificates, just in case one untrusting recruiter comes around asking for them. A point where the information that would have at one point been the pride and joy of my working history, now just reads like a couple of dates that I can’t really feel, understand, or establish as part of my own narrative.

At the heart of the problem is recruiters wanting tailored applications. I can understand their reasoning, but it’s this lack of awareness of the job application process that can be frustrating. While some recruitment departments are recognising this, others (especially those of big institutions) are in dire need of an overhaul.

Over the last six months, I have probably applied for over 80 jobs. In that time, I have probably written 30 essays, made 10 films, and recorded my voice answering questions on countless occasions. Each one of these applications has taken a huge amount of my time. With each one having to be carefully crafted to fit the specific job description. There’s the emotional labour to consider, as well as the ability to break from other work to make these commitments to applications.

This work so often comes before having been given an interview face to face, meaning that these long hours spent perfecting essays, often go to waste once they are followed up with a rejection letter.

Alongside this, new techniques are making the job application process far more terrifying and much less personal. Video interviewing is one of these recent changes, but often these are not two-way conversations, but responses delivered into communication platforms, built to offer analysis on your responses. One interview I did at the BBC used just this system, recording responses, alone, in a room, for a panel to analyse months later.

I believe these are a step in the wrong direction. It’s the comfort and understanding of a face to face interview that can be an important part of recognising whether a workplace is right for you. Likewise, it’s the warmth and understanding of people, instead of apps, that make the recruitment process less alienating. In my own responses to these video interviews, I’ve often found them tricky to set up, reliant on up to date technology, hosted through poorly built apps, and full of the discomfort of being in front of the camera.

We need to be aware that young people are just as busy as any of recruiter is. We need to be aware of the difficulties many young people face in being put up against the competitive job market before them. And importantly, be aware that not every brilliant candidate, will be the one who has the time to type essays out as part of a general application process.

3rd October 2017