Applying for jobs: How to play the long game well

Applying for jobs: How to play the long game well

Anyone who has ever applied for a job will know that their dream role isn't just going to fall into their lap. Opportunities in careers such as pharmacy and therapy can be few and far between, which means that the jobseeking process may be longer than you had hoped.

This can be a demoralising prospect, particularly when you've gleaned an unrealistic idea from the media about waltzing from education to a fantastic job before the ink on your degree is dry. It can be the same even for those who already have some work experience under their belts, too - competition has never been fiercer and everyone wants that job that makes them love their 9-5 as opposed to wishing the days away.

Even if you have been in the application process for some time now, it's important not to let it get to you and to keep going. You never know if The One might be just around the corner, after all.

However, it's also a good idea not to panic and to take a logical and structured approach to looking for work. In case you're in need of some fresh advice or simply a few reminders on what's best to do versus avoid, we've compiled the following five points to help you.

1. Always add a cover letter

There are very few cases nowadays when you don't need to accompany your CV with a good cover letter, as they can help to put your experience and skills into context. It will allow you to target your potential employer and role in a specific way and inform the company about why you are the best choice for that position.
A cover letter will also mean you need to do less work on your CV for each application, as long as you address it to a named individual and use the space wisely by highlighting your most outstanding accomplishments.

2. Take a focused approach

Well-meaning friends and family may tell you to just send out as many CVs as you possibly can in the hope that one of them might stick, but this approach can actually be detrimental to your career search.

A carpet-bombing approach risks you sending out generic applications and cover letters, whereas employers are more likely to respond favourably to those that have been carefully worked on and tailored to the company and role in question. 

What's worse, you might be applying for jobs that aren't really what you want, which is a waste of everyone's time. Applicants who do this may find they rarely hear back from companies because their generic CVs are overlooked in favour of people who put the work in - and they may be viewed as desperate if their application lands multiple times on the same desks.

3. Keep CVs concise and relevant

Many jobseekers seem to forget that their CV isn't an autobiography, which results in them running the risk of a potential employer getting bored before getting to the bottom of it.

Remember that your CV needs to feature only what's relevant to the role you're applying for so readers can tell whether you're suitable more or less instantly. You might have started your working life in 1998 with a Saturday job at the local bakery, but details of that role won't be necessary if your chosen career path is in the pharmaceutical industry.

Check that readers can see the crucial information within ten seconds of picking up the document and that critical details to really sell you are included in at least the first quarter.

4. Never, ever lie

It used to be fairly routine for people to stretch the truth in their CVs, but this was before the days of hyper-connectivity and employers being able to easily verify the details they are given.

The reality is that it's just not worth the risk, even if it's just a small white lie about a hobby. What if you were asked to elaborate in detail at the interview? Or what if you said you had a particular skill and were hired, only to be exposed during your probation period? This could do real damage to your career.

A famous case in 2012 saw then-Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson forced to leave his job after he was found to have fibbed about having a computer science degree - proof if it were needed that lies can come back to haunt even the biggest executives.

Instead, be honest about your achievements and work on making them sound irresistible to employers.

5. Never, ever quit

If you really, really want a job in hospital pharmacy or any other industry, then you need to keep plugging away until you can achieve that ambition. Yes, it's hard if you've been applying for ages without so much as a peep in response, but remember that there is likely to be someone waiting in the wings to replace you if you stop.

Like we said, a scattergun approach isn't advisable, but continuing to work on searching for the best roles and carefully tweaking your CV and cover letter is.
In the meantime, should you get to the interview stage, remember to politely follow it up with a query email asking about progress in the selection process and requesting feedback if you learn you haven't been successful. Even after a good interview, keep sending out those applications and have the next one lined up.

Being proactive can reduce the temptation to lurk by the phone waiting on applications and lessen the chances of you losing heart with it all.
Sooner or later, with enough legwork, it should all pay off and result in the start of a great career.