To apply please email your CV and cover letter to email@example.com.
This, it seems, is how every job advert has concluded since the world began (plus or minus the internet).
But today, a poll conducted by the Association of Graduate Recruiters suggests that fresh grads are failing to make the cut simply because they aren’t putting enough effort into their applications.
Frankly, I have trouble swallowing that one.
Graduates everywhere pour hours into reducing their fairly fascinating lives into bullet points of key skills and job-ready excellence, to be gobbled up and chewed out by softly spoken HR elves.
I’m not talking about casually whipping off a list of exam results and work experience. I’m talking about anxiously tuned, obsessively bespoke Savile Row stuff that traditionally descends into debating nail-biting minutiae:
One page or two? Font? Margins? Twitter handle? Would it be helpful to let them know that my last summer job involved filing, photocopying, laminating and binding, or will the catch-all “general administrative duties” suffice? If I get rid of the Rusty Languages section (read GCSE French) so the whole thing fits on one readable page will they brand me a tongue-less Neanderthal? And will writing the words “I’m friendly and have a good sense of humour”, immediately suggest that I’m a terribly dreary individual?
The perfect CV hangs in the ether of the job-hunter’s dreams: highly prized, desperately sought-after and rarely sighted among cascading application deadlines. Like some Tibetan butterfly that briefly appears within reach before whisking away on a breeze of grammatical, chronological, and typographical confusion.
But eventually after all that fuss, I’m not sure CVs, as we traditionally understand them, do much for the jobless graduate or the demanding employer. Of course, they have their place in the initial stages of the job-search gauntlet, but they are becoming an increasingly insignificant part of the game. Or, at least the notion of a CV is evolving.
The modern job hunt is a cacophony of CV cheerleaders waving pompoms and shouting “Get Creative!” balanced by the bark of time-pressed employers eager for recruits to “hit the ground running”.
We are told to print our CVs on crisp packets and present ourselves as infographics. (How many per cent good at photoshop are you?) Today’s graduates are asked for internships, portfolios, showreels, blogs, vlogs, and cocktails of aptitude tests. LinkedIn serves as braggish public testimony to online CVs, as the world demands varied proof of real-time ability rather than neatly assembled examples of transferable skills.
The modern workplace, the young graduate is constantly reminded, has little space for the uninitiated and the slightly daunting reality is that employers appear to be looking for proof that new recruits can do the job they’ve never had.
Perhaps, after sufficiently impressing some HR chieftain with your hire-me-flash-animation, you’ll be invited to an interview. There, you may very well find yourself talking to a would-be boss who hasn’t the faintest clue what you studied, where you interned, or how well you can play the cello. Your humble CV will sit in front of him-or-her, still warm from the printer, unmarked, creaseless, and almost certainly unread.