Posted On 15th June 2012

There are adverts on the London Underground which declare “Your newspaper is rubbish”. This is not intended as a personal affront to passengers’ choice of reading matter but is a play on words, asking people to take their papers away so that they don’t end up blocking doors, creating a slip hazard and so on.

The current economic climate means that there are a lot of job applications clogging up the system. No-one would mind if they were all relevant and targeted to the role but often many aren’t. Especially in this era of applying electronically, people are able to take advantage of “one click” applications, using a CV uploaded to a jobs board. Even though there is often a space for you to enter a further statement, few people seem to do so, or merely dash down a few lines, and while there is usually an option to edit or upload an alternative CV, many people don’t.

It is in this light that I have been introduced to CRAP as an acronym. It stands for the title of this blog – Click, Review, Apply, Pray. What does this mean? You see a job advert you like the look of and click on it to learn more. You read it over and decide you’re interested. You apply by clicking on a button which says something like “apply now”. And then it is in the lap of the gods.

If you have used this approach to job applications it may well be that by now you’re despairing of having applied for tens or hundreds of jobs and having got nowhere. The problem is that if you’re doing this, you really are leaving it down to luck and in a competitive jobs market this is in short supply. Without any pre-engagement of the employer (and if you have previously built contacts with the employer, I assure you, you will not be applying through the online portal with the rest of the world), there is nothing to make your application stand out and it may not be clear what makes you suitable for the job. In brief, your application is CRAP.

I learnt this the hard way too. When I last made a job hunt, for the first couple of weeks I thought it was great that I could so easily make applications with a pre-uploaded CV and a simple online form. Every one of the applications I made in that way fell on stone. In the process, I am sure that I missed out on some interesting opportunities that I would dearly have loved to get an interview for.

Fortunately, for me, I worked out fairly quickly that my speedy applications might be the root of the problem. So I learnt to be more discerning. Firstly, I assessed the jobs more carefully, working out where I really could make a case for my being at least a good candidate for the job. Then I planned the covering statement and I would write it in a word document before copying and pasting it into the text box provided. I would also upload a variation on my CV if need be. Only then would I click on the “apply now”.

The change in my fortunes was clear: my applications attracted much more interest. And that wasn’t just luck.

The story doesn’t end with my getting a job through my improved online job applications – I got my new job through networking. However, by making better quality applications, I was able to get my foot through the door and get a chance of exploring some interesting opportunities further. I can tell you that doing that was far more effective and better for my morale than making lots of CRAP applications.

Heidi Nicholson [contact-form-7 id="4" title="Contact Page Form"]