Spray, and Walk Away!



There has been plenty of discussion in the blogosphere (oh… using lingo in my second blog!) about the practice of agency recruiters using the “spray and pray” or “flick and stick” approach to recruitment. So many are quick to start talking agency recruiters down for this approach. However, if they didn’t get a bite every now and then, they probably wouldn’t do it now would they? I must confess even me as a (newish) internal recruiter took the bait a few days ago…. And the result was a poorly prepared candidate who was not aligned to our business values or the role and it really damaged my relationship with that agency. I’ve learned my lesson, and I hope the agency did too (I bet they don’t though).

My personal favourite “spray and pray” came from an agency recruiter I have never met (who shall remain nameless) at 1.14am last Saturday morning with a range of CVs and profiles of accounting candidates. I chuckled – we don’t even have a finance department in New Zealand.

However, I could talk about this practice all day (and possibly will in the future) but for today the question: Why do we not talk about the “spray and pray” tactics used by some candidates as much? These are the candidates who apply for your role (or multiple roles) 3-4 times across a number of job board categories, with no cover letter or at bare minimum a generic one. On top of that if you ring them about their job application most of the time they blindly confess they have applied for so many jobs they can’t remember anything about yours!

Some recent examples of this approach:
• An application with a generic cover letter addressed to “insert name here” with generic highlighted sections in it and (the best bit) signed yours sincerely “your name”;
• A candidate who applied for all 3 advertised roles – Executive Assistant, Sales Advisor and Retention Advisor position and inserted the job title into their CV summary saying that’s what they wanted to do long term;
• A CV stating they wanted an early childhood teaching position when they applied for a sales role; and
• In my time in agency land we had one candidate that applied to every single role within 5 minutes of it being posted – regardless of what it was – with no cover letter and just his CV!

While I know that there is sheer desperation for work from some people in this economic climate – if you really want to get working – stand out and prepare! As a candidate this “spray and pray” approach to applying for jobs not only reduces your call back ratio, when you do get a call back from an employer you aren’t always prepared for it and I can only assume that you blow it most of the time!

Some quick advice for candidates (particularly if you’re applying at Youi!):
• Prepare a well written cover letter addressed to the name on the advert (if one) or the organisation outlining why you meet the job requirements and a little more about you;
• Attach a well laid out CV to your application, and if you include an objective, cover statement or summary make it relevant to the role applied for;
• Keep a notebook or list of all the jobs you have applied for and where. Having a short summary or a few comments next to each job will help you to make any answers you give on a phone screen far more relevant; and
• As a side note if you are job seeking always answer your phone professionally, even if it’s a blocked number.


Going forward, I’ve learned my lesson about this approach. If you’re a candidate hopefully you can take some of these hints and put them into practice going forward. If you’re an internal recruiter or hiring manager think carefully about accepting that floated CV. If you do take the bait, you’re only encouraging and enabling the “spray and pray” tactics to continue…


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